For the latest model year, Fiat has deep-sixed the 500's naturally-aspirated engine. It's all turbo, all the time.
Essentially the same quasi-convertible model that has been on sale in Europe for the last couple of years, the 500c features a power-sliding cloth roof that opens up the cabin to sun and fresh air. Opening it couldn't be easier: simply push a button on the dashboard.
The 500c is powered by a turbocharged 1.4-liter MultiAir four-cylinder gasoline engine that produces 135 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 150 pound-feet of torque between 2,400 and 4,200 rpm. Front-wheel drive and a five-speed manual transmission come standard, and a six-speed automatic is available at an extra cost.
Fuel economy checks in at 28 mpg in the city, 33 mpg on the highway, and 30 mpg in a mixed cycle with the manual transmission. Going automatic lowers mileage to 24, 32, and 27, respectively.
What's different compared to the hatchback?
While one might assume that the only real changes from the fixed-roof Fiat 500 would come in the form of a sliced off roof and some added reinforcement for roll-over protection, there's more to it than that.
For starters, the Fiat 500c has a slightly longer windshield than the hatchback and is designed to provide passengers with a maximized outward view. As you would imagine, the design is also intended to conceal the reinforced upper-cross member which Fiat says is intended to help retain spirited driving dynamics.
Even from the side the profile is a bit different as the Fiat 500c's pillars stand out more, and of course the soft top is a bit more slender than the hatchback version. Changes continue to the rear of the 500c, as a roof-mounted and color-matched spoiler is added to improves aerodynamics, and also integrates the center high-mounted stop lamp.
Trim Level Breakdown
The 500c comes in two trim levels named Pop and Lounge, respectively.
The 500c Pop is the entry-level model and comes with a manual transmission, 16-inch alloy wheels, seven standard air bags, air conditioning, CD/MP3-compatible radio with auxiliary audio input, chromed exhaust tip, power windows, power door locks, power heated mirrors, speed control, Bluetooth with USB port and eco:Drive. Other features include iPod control capability, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, configurable Electronic Vehicle Information Center with trip computer, miles-to-empty, average fuel economy and a tire-pressure monitoring display.
The 500c Lounge takes the basis formed by the Pop, and adds front- and rear-fascia chromed accents, chromed mirror caps, fog lamps, 15-inch aluminum wheels with all-season tires, premium cloth seats, Sirius satellite radio, automatic climate control, and Bose Energy Efficient Series audio system with six premium speakers and subwoofer and a security alarm. A 7.0-inch HD TFT display is newly standard for the latest model year.
Standard safety items include dual front, front side and full-length side curtain airbags in addition to a driver's knee airbag and traction and stability control systems.
Open-air rivals to the 500c include the convertible version of the MINI Hardtop. Those willing to pay a bit more can opt for the Mazda MX-5 Miata, which doesn't offer the practicality of rear seats but features incredibly pure rear-wheel-drive handling.