Review of the 2012 Fiat 500c Lounge Convertible
- Delightful Ride
- Lots of Airbags
- Needs More Motor
There isn’t another $25,000 car on the market today that will garner as much attention as this convertible Fiat 500C. Paint it Giallo (yellow) like our test car, and the petit bumblebee’s cynosure quotient jumps off the map. We had happily driven the 500C for the better part of a week, thinking that the sliding top was fully opened when parked just aft of the rear seats. After all, that’s where it stops sliding when you hold the button down. It wasn’t until my wife saw a Kohl’s commercial on TV starring Jennifer Lopez in a 500C with the top fully retracted that we realized a second push of the switch would fold the rear window flat and drop the roof a further foot. In this position, however, rear vision becomes problematic, as the parked top blocks most of your view in the interior rear view mirror. Granted, Fiat includes rear park assist at no extra cost, but that back-up aid does not help you survey traffic when traveling forward.
If you are content to drive with the top fully open but the windows raised, you will experience almost no buffeting in the cockpit. You’ll enjoy all the joy of fresh air motoring without the debilitating drawback of wind fatigue. Another benefit of the Fiat convertible’s wall of windows design is the inclusion of side curtain airbags both front and rear. This safety measure is made possible by the 500C’s structural integrity in retaining fixed roof framing above all 4 side windows. In a car as diminutive as the 500, you welcome as many airbags as Fiat can give you. And airbags aplenty are standard: in addition to the side curtains bags, multistage front airbags combine with front seat mounted side airbags and reactive head restraints to keep you whole in the event of a collision.
A couple of annoyances carry over from the sedan to the convertible. If you’re switching lanes in heavy traffic, the B pillar obstructs vision to your immediate left, so you must rely entirely upon the small exterior mirror for information. The standard heated seats are a welcome feature, but the warning light indicating their activation is impossible to read in daylight. If you set the cruise control at 65mph, it will cause the transmission to hunt between 5th and 6th gear on the slightest of inclines. But these are negligible problems in a car that offers so much joy of ownership. What this Fiat needs is a smile-o-meter. If it had such a gauge, you can be sure it would be pegged most of the time, because you’re always happy when driving a 500C Lounge.
2012 FIAT 500C LOUNGE
PRICE AS TESTED: $25,250
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 27 MPG City /32 MPG Highway