By Mike Torpey on 2019-06-08 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Fiat 500C 1.2 Lounge
YOU can have fun just canvassing opinion on what a particular car means to different people.
An Italian gelato shop on wheels, a moving deckchair and an open air coffee bar were just some descriptions of the Fiat 500C, admittedly during the hottest week of the year so far.
The ‘C' of course stands for convertible, adding an extra dimension to what is the original city car and still one of the best in the business.
A combination of funky style with retro charm comes oozing from every pore of the chic little Fiat - and for those all too rare spells of spring sunshine, you can really feel the breeze.
And while you get a roll-back lid that's more like an extended sunroof than a proper rag-top it still makes a style statement.
Its advantage though is that sardine tin-style folding mechanism which means you can open the fabric lid in three different positions.
The complete operation takes just eight seconds, is fully electric, can be activated on the move and doesn't encroach on luggage space or interior comfort.
Only problem is that it costs, depending on trim grade, an extra Â£2,750, so you may consider whether it's worth the pleasure, given that the roof pillars remain in place.
For me it's money well spent, and if you go for the Glam Coral paint job (Â£350 extra) with ivory roof and a hi-fi by Beats (also Â£350) the effect like something straight from the Italian Riviera.
Our variant featured Fiat's 1.2-litre four-cylinder petrol engine producing just 69bhp, so there's not too much performance in there, though the result is fine for city and suburban driving.
This model takes a while to pick up its feet on faster roads too, but once up to speed it can cruise along comfortably at the upper speed limit.
Average fuel consumption is impressive at an official 60.1 miles per gallon even if our own return was 48.7mpg.
In addition to a Start&Stop system - which can prove as frustrating as it is fuel efficient - there's also an indicator to prompt gear changes and a dash-mounted CITY button that lightens the steering and allows the driver to adopt a style more suited to town traffic.
Cabin highlights like the oversize white steering wheel, billiard ball gearknob, snazzy check seat designs and shiny dash all add to the 500C's appeal. On the down side, rear space is realistically only sufficient for kids while the boot is tiny.
Fiat 500C 1.2 Lounge
Mechanical: 69bhp, 1,242cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 5-speed manual gearbox
Max Speed: 99mph
0-62mph: 12.9 seconds
Combined MPG: 60.1
Insurance Group: 11
C02 emissions: 110g/km
Bik rating: 26%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles
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