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2012 Fiat 500C Drive and Review By Larry Nutson +VIDEO

2012 Fiat 500c Convertible (select to view enlarged photo)
2012 Fiat 500c Convertible

SEE ALSO: Fiat Specs, Comparisons and Prices - Fiat Buyers Guide

2012 Fiat 500c - “C” as in Cabrio
by Larry Nutson
Senior Editor, Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

Convertible owners buy convertibles for one primary reason. That is, to put the top down and enjoy the open-air. The coolest feature of the 2012 Fiat 500c convertible is that you can fully open and close the top while underway at speeds up to 50 mph.

No need to pull over to the side of the road. If the skies start to sprinkle, mild panic will not set-in. Simply close the top while cruising along.

2012 Fiat 500c Convertible (select to view enlarged photo)

I spent a week in a Bianco Pearla with Bordeaux soft top Fiat 500 Cabrio. The JLo color combination as seen in the “My World” TV spot. The 500 top slides in tracks along the upper door and window frame. The top has a multitude of opening possibilities. Eight inches like a sunroof; or, just behind the driver’s head; or, back behind the rear seat; or, all the way open and down above the trunk lid. It’s variable blue sky.

2012 Fiat 500c Convertible (select to view enlarged photo)

The 500c is offered in two models. The Pop priced at $19,500 and the Lounge priced at $23,500. The hatchback comes in three models with the Sport being added.

The two models, 14 exterior colors, 12 unique seat color and material combinations, plus a choice of two interior environments and three exterior soft-top colors allow customers to personalize “their own” Fiat 500C.

2012 Fiat 500c Convertible (select to view enlarged photo)

I covered the 500 in two previous articles that you can find here on The Auto Channel.

2012 Fiat 500-Technical Details and My First Impressions
2012 Fiat Hatchback Road Test and Review.

The 500c is cleverly designed with a multi-position power-retractable cloth top and fully stamped body-side silhouette. According to Fiat there is 70 percent less header shake then key competitors and the new Fiat 500c delivers leading interior sound quality (quietest at 45 mph, 70 mph and lowest powertrain noise). In addition, its longer windshield and minimized header design maximize rear-seated passengers’ outward visibility, while minimizing cabin turbulence. And for easy access to the cabrio’s trunk, premium “parallelogram” liftgate hinges conveniently position the liftgate out of the way, while the power-operated cloth top simultaneously retracts.

Differentiating the Fiat 500c from the hatchback model is a slightly longer windshield that is designed to provide passengers with a maximized outward view. In addition, the windshield elegantly conceals the reinforced upper-cross member that ensures the cabrio’s rigid body structure during spirited driving.

2012 Fiat 500c Convertible (select to view enlarged photo)

Metro-friendly, that’s the 500c. It’s city-friendly proportions make for easy maneuvering and parking. With the push of a button you have an open-air view of any cityscape or the rolling hills and panorama of a country-side. The fully power-operated cloth top closes quickly to secure the car at any stop along the way.

Like the hatchback, the cabrio is powered by an efficient and responsive 1.4-liter MultiAir in-line four-cylinder engine providing 101 horsepower (75 kW) at 6,500 rpm and 98 lb.-ft. (133 N•m) of torque at 4,000 rpm. When paired with the five-speed manual transmission, the Fiat 500c delivers 30 city mpg and 38 highway mpg.

Since going on sale earlier this year around 13,000 Fiat 500s have been sold through the end of September. There are now over 100 Fiat Studios open and selling.

Watch the Jennifer Lopez Fiat 500 TV commercial

At New York Fashion Week a red-and-green striped Gucci version was unveiled. An Abarth performance-version is due in Spring and an electric-powered 500ev is due in late 2012 with a reported 100 mile driving range on a full battery charge.

   • SEE ALSO: 2012 Fiat 500 Italian Style-7 VIDEOS

Fiat has teamed up with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) and will offer a 2012 Fiat 500 “Pink Ribbon” limited-edition model. Only 250 Pink Ribbon units will be built for sale starting this month, October. Based on the Lounge model and priced at $22,000, this includes a $1000 donation to BCRF. Committing to a $50,000 minimum donation, Fiat Brand will donate $1,000 per Fiat 500 Pink Ribbon limited-edition vehicle sold to BCRF to support the foundation’s mission of achieving prevention and a cure for breast cancer in our lifetime

2012 Fiat 500c Convertible (select to view enlarged photo)

Nicely timed with my 500c drive, I attended a presentation by The Haartz Corporation, the maker of convertible topping that it sells to automakers around the globe. Haartz makes the 500c top and also has developed a unique linear custom weave process for the Gucci model that incorporates a red and green stripe in the center of the top. It’s a first in the industry.

The 500c is getting accolades. The Southern Automotive Media Association (SAMA) press members voted the 2012 Fiat 500 Cabrio as their “Best Small Convertible of the Year” at the SAMA Convertible Drive in Miami. The first annual SAMA Convertible Drive “Topless in Miami” was held June 30.

All 2012 Fiat 500c models come with a standard four-year/50,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and four years of unlimited roadside assistance. In addition, the new Fiat 500c includes a three-year/36,000-mile maintenance program that includes wear-and-tear items and trip-interruption reimbursement.

Go topless everywhere.

© Larry Nutson