Without a doubt the most annoying idiom in the English language is: “If money was no object…” After all, why should your taste for the finer things in life be curtailed simply because you’re not adequately endowed in the wallet department? Well, fortunately this daft phrase no longer applies to the car you’ve always dreamed of owning – now you can have one of the most covetable convertibles on the planet for under R200 000, or if you prefer, the most techno-savvy, safety-conscious supermini for the same price!
So, to sum up, with the addition of these two new ‘top-end’ 500 models there’s now a Cinquecento to suit every taste and budget: first up is the eco-friendly 1.2 with a launch price of just R135 500, followed by the 1.4 Pop with an equally mouth-watering price tag of just R157 800 and now, the flagship twins – the 1.4 Cabriolet and the 1.4 MTA Sport, both retailing for just R197 600 (all VAT inclusive).
Unveiled to the world for the first time at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show, the new Fiat 500C pays homage to the original 1957 Fiat 500 and its fabric roof, but also offers innovative solutions in terms of mechanical design, engines and comfort. All this in line with the most authentic Fiat tradition of giving people access to segment firsts in content and technology.
Using the saloon version as the starting point, the introduction of the soft top does not change the winning characteristics of the model such as its four comfortable seats and boot capacity, but it does add new functions that heighten enjoyment. These include easier access to the boot even when the soft top is fully open, thanks to a clever system of parallelogram hinges.
Another strong point of the original cabriolet version is its exceptional climate and acoustic comfort. Thorough aerodynamic research means that the turbulence experienced with the roof open has been reduced to a minimum, allowing full enjoyment of the fresh air and the company of fellow passengers.
Even rear passengers have received special attention, as proven by an air-flow speed of 7 m/s with the roof open. In addition, when the soft top is down, the spoiler is arranged so that the third brake light can always be seen. From the side, the car stands out for the outline of the pillars which present strong arches in contrast with the shape of the soft top. The soft top really defines the upper lines of the 500 Cabriolet and gives it a more slender look compared with the saloon version. Staying with the side view, the alloy wheels also stand out: one option is 16 inches, with a cross-spoked design that has echoes of the original 1960s spoked wheels; another is 15 inches, with a more fluid design (both wheels have the classic cup-shaped locking nuts embossed with the 500 logo).
Another important feature of the new car is the boot: this opens upwards without protruding from the shape of the vehicle (this means there is no need to step away when loading luggage).
But it is the soft top of the Fiat 500 Cabriolet that stands out for its elegant electrically-controlled movements and its impressively finished and carefully selected technical features. Available in three colours (ivory, red and black), the clever soft top is matched to the numerous body colours (six pastel, three metallic and two pearlescent).
The automatic electric soft top can be controlled either by buttons near to the interior ceiling light or from the remote control. In addition, the soft top can be operated throughout its horizontal travel (as far as the spoiler) at any speed. Vertical movement can be engaged at any speed under 60 km/h.
The soft top is also easy to use: to open it, just press the button for at least half a second to trigger the movement that then continues automatically up to the spoiler (a midway point can of course be chosen by pressing the button again).
Finally, there an optional wind-stop can easily be positioned behind the rear headrests (fixed to the parcel shelf).
The interior of the Fiat 500C is equally exclusive, and boasts top quality materials. In particular, the new sporty seats are upholstered in a high-quality fabric which constitutes an important feature of the car for its feel and durability.
The brilliant 1.4 litre 16v engine delivers 73.5 kW (100 HP) at 6,000 rpm and a maximum torque of 131 Nm at 4,250 rpm. Developed with high performance and low consumption in mind, this engine puts the Fiat 500 (in both Cabriolet and MTA guise) at the top of its class, with a top speed of 182 km/h for both models and acceleration 0-100 km/h in just 11 seconds for the Cabriolet and 10,5 seconds for the MTA.
Fuel economy is impressive too: in the combined cycle, the Cabriolet consumes only 6,1 l/100 km (combined cycle) with a manual six-speed gearbox. The 500 MTA is even more impressive – 5,8 l/100 km in the combined cycle.
- Fiat 500 Sport MTA – R197, 600.00
- Fiat 500 Cabriolet – R197, 600.00