Fiat 500C Lounge 1.2

Fiat 500C, front, roof down
Fiat 500C, front
Fiat 500C, rear, roof down
Fiat 500C, dashboard
Fiat 500C, boot
Fiat 500C, interior, front
Fiat 500C, interior

SUMMER is here, the temperatures are rising and the sun is out - well at least some of the time - and for new car buyers that means the lure of a convertible may become too hard to resist.

For many this will result in the consideration of a sporty two-seater soft-top, for others possibly a sleek sports coupe, or even a saloon, with a retractable roof.

The funky Fiat 500C, though, offers a different take on top-down motoring for the fashion-conscious young, or not-so-young, driver who values style over speed.

For 12-years the retro-chic looks of this characterful little motor have been winning over motorists after the Italian car maker decided to resurrect its sixties icon.

More than 333,000 have now been shifted in the UK and the cabriolet has all the charm of the standard model but with extra wind-in-the-hair appeal.

Rock and Rockstar grades have been added to Pop, Lounge and Sport versions in a revised range line-up for summer 2019 and all models from Lounge upwards now get a smart seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system incorporating Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

There's a choice of two petrol engines - a 1.2-litre unit or a turbocharged 0.9-litre, two-cylinder option - both of which are mated to a five-speed manual transmission.

Both offer the sort of fuel economy you'd expect from a city car but, while the 0.9-litre is a little zippier off the mark and can muster a few extra miles per hour, the difference isn't significant and it is much noisier than the cheaper 1.2-litre we drove.

This proved to be adept and responsive enough in town and just about manages to keep up with traffic on the open road. You'll need to drop down a gear or two if you want a sharp turn of speed, though, and a sixth gear would make motorway driving more refined.

Packing a meagre 69ps of power, this engine takes 12.9 seconds to amble its way from standstill to the 62mph benchmark - but pace and performance aren't really the point of the 500C.

This car is all about sashaying your way around town at a nice leisurely pace, giving people plenty of time to admire the cute personality if your trendy little convertible as it passes by.

And for this it is ideal. The steering is light and responsive, making manoeuvring in and out of even the tightest parking spaces a doddle, and while the ride is pretty firm it stays comfortable and settled over all but the worst of Britain's pock-marked roads.

The upright stance means there's a little lean in corners, but nothing too disconcerting, and the driving position is quite high for a small car. Such foibles, though, which might be seen as irksome in some rivals, will be regarded as charming quirks in the 500C.

Avoid the entry-level model and equipment is decent, with our Lounge car getting 15-inch alloy wheels, a wealth of chrome body trim, air conditioning, rear parking sensors, cruise control and digital radio as well as the touchscreen interface.

The interior design continues the retro theme of the exterior, with colour coded panels across the dashboard and all the controls simply laid out and easy to use.

Rear passenger room is pretty tight and the boot small - but that's true of all city cars and none of the others can offer you that al fresco driving experience.

Which brings us to the electronically folding fabric roof, which is obviously the defining feature of this motor. It can be quickly and easily retracted at any speed simply by pressing a switch near the rearview mirror.

FAST FACTS

Fiat 500C Lounge 1.2

Price: £16,145

Mechanical: 69ps, 1,242cc, petrol engine driving front wheels via 5-speed manual transmission

Max Speed:101mph

0-62mph: 12.9 seconds

Combined MPG: 49.6

Insurance Group:11

C02 emissions: 108g/km

Bik rating: 26%

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