It is easy to become bogged down in an ‘is it or is it not a convertible’ argument with the 500C. On the one hand, the roof opens as far as any normal convertible; on the other, the Fiat retains its B-pillars, door frames and immobile rear side windows, so you cannot possibly ever feel as truly exposed to the elements as you would in a normal convertible.

Then again, in this approach there are advantages to the owner in terms of torsional rigidity, reduced weight gain and the maintenance of the original’s gorgeous lines and, to Fiat, doubtless a massive cost saving.

Nic Cackett

Nic Cackett

Road tester
You can't feel as exposed to the elements as in a normal convertible

The good news is that, unlike conventional convertibles, the 500C’s weight has not ballooned by a substantial three-figure number of kilos; even with its additional cross-bracing it’s a mere 40kg heavier, providing the hope of all but unaffected performance and economy, while Fiat already claims its CO2 output is near identical to that of the standard car.

The other substantial change to the 500C sits unseen between the rear wheels, where an anti-roll bar has now been fitted. This is a modification first seen on the Ford Ka (whose platform it shares with the 500) and follows the widespread view that Ford achieved a somewhat more optimal ride/handling balance than Fiat.

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Fiat does not say whether the 500C also inherits the Ka’s softer rear springs, but such is the change in its dynamic behaviour that we would be surprised if it does not.

The mid-life facelift saw Fiat reluctant to tamper too much with its winning formula, and as a result kept changes to the exterior to a minimum with restyled lights and bumpers leading the way, while the engine line-up lost the diesel unit which punctuated the relaunched 500's range. So now Fiat's retro throwback returns to petrol power the way it should be.

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