The 500C only seems unreasonably expensive when seen in the context of the Fiat 500; compare it instead with the loosely assembled collection of oddball others you might want to describe as rivals and suddenly it doesn’t seem so pricey after all.
Nevertheless, Fiat dealers up and down the country will have been deluged by customers asking to explain why they’re being asked to pay a large premium for a piece of folding fabric, even if it can be chosen in three different colours.
The answer is air-conditioning as standard (it’s an option on the 500 Pop) and body coloured bumpers. It’s not a long list, particularly to those who bought the car specifically so they can open the roof on a warm day because they prefer their air be fresh rather than conditioned. To Fiat the cost of engineering a sliding fabric roof must be a very small fraction of what rivals must have stumped up designing and packaging a true convertible roof.
In answer to this some might simply say well done Fiat. And there’s no doubting its roof solution has merits beyond its simplicity. It poses no great air management problems for Fiat and even if you forget to flip up the little front air-dam on top of the windscreen, you can cruise all day without being buffeted by the air. Put the roof up and refinement levels are such that you might as well be in the hatchback.
It’s a frugal way of getting about too with the 1.2 offering a 55.4mpg combined consumption figure. It should be said now that a Mini Cooper Convertible still gets within a whiff of 50mpg despite an engine producing nearly twice the power. The TwinAir records a 68.9mpg average, but few have got close to this impressive sounding figure. The diesel claims 72.4mpg on the combined cycle.
The 500 also suffers from a tiny 35 litre fuel tank, which is only a couple of litres more than you get in a Smart, so at the 37.8mpg we averaged on test, that restricts your realistic driving range to around 290 miles.
If the hatchback is any guide, the 500C is going to cling to its second-hand value like a ship-wrecked sailor to a passing plank. In fact because that roof will make the 500C even more desirable, we wouldn’t be surprised if, combined with its comparative scarcity, it wasn’t an even better performer on the second-hand market.