Review: Fiat 500C Hybrid
In the midst of a week when two named storms battered the UK senseless I was delivered of a cute little Fiat 500 cabriolet.
Needless to say, I didn’t attempt any top-down motoring - it was far too dangerous - which is a real shame.
I did operate the roll-back canvas roof to see how it worked but closed it again in double-quick time. It folds and can be paused at any point depending on whether you want the full-blown wind-in-the-hair experience or just a bit of extra fresh air.
The Fiat 500 has remained largely the same since it was launched in 2008 with 100,000 sales in the UK alone during the first four years..
There have been updates since then but ostensibly it is the same car the UK public took to their hearts. A colleague who really loved hers, resorted to adding on large stick-on eyelashes around the headlights to accentuate its cuteness.
The 500 is a small car - that goes without saying - with not a lot of room in the back for a couple of strapping six-footers. But, you are unlikely to buy one if you regularly transport four adults and their paraphernalia around. If you do, those in the rear will have their knees jammed into the seats in front and heads will be bent at an unnatural angle.
There’s not a lot of adjustment for the driver’s seat either - a cumbersome lever allows a bit of movement. The steering wheel doesn’t adjust for reach only height.
The boot is tiny so if you're planning a big shop or a trip to the airport with luggage you’ll need to ditch your rear seat passengers and fold the seats down.
Fiat’s infotainment system is quite intuitive and is easy to get to grips with. Although, in common with many others I tend to just plug my phone and use Apple CarPlay for the majority of functions. There are a couple of USB ports or you can connect your phone via Bluetooth - wireless charging would be a welcome addition though. There are audio controls on the steering wheel.
As a relatively cheap city runabout it is perfectly adequate and it is certainly one of the nicest looking out there.
And there’s a lot to be said for jumping in and nipping out in it, weaving through traffic and sneaking into tight parking spaces.
Our test car came powered with a one-litre mild-hybrid petrol engine with 69bhp returning an official 58.9mpg.
The 0-62mph benchmark takes 13.8 seconds and top speed is 104mph.
As it is a mild hybrid it doesn’t need to be plugged in. The petrol engine is combined with an electric motor and a lithium-ion battery and recharges itself during braking and deceleration.
The steering is light and the suspension is soft which is great around town but not so much so at motorway speeds when it compromises the handling somewhat.
Our car came fitted with air conditioning, cruise control and a tyre pressure monitoring system for an on-the-road price of £19,440. The metallic paint in a fetching shade of dew green added £550.
Fiat 500C 500 Hybrid
Price: £19,440 (£19,990 as tested)
Engine: 1.0-litre, three-cylinder mild hybrid
Transmission: six-speed manual
Top speed: 104mph
0-62mph: 13.8 seconds
CO 2 emissions:108/km