Very retro in appearance, the 500 is fun to drive, inexpensive to run and has character. The cabin is designed well so the rear seat is basically capable of seating an adult. It is not a true convertible. The ride is not smooth and visibility to the rear is horrible when the hood is lowered.
The basic 68bhp 1.2 is slow and struggles to climb hills. For motorway driving or in the city, it zips along just fine. The Twinair feels flat when at low revs but is stronger overall. The 94bhp 1.3 diesel has some pep and the 138bhp Abarth has a hot-hatch pace.
The 500C feels secure, stable and solid on the road thanks to fixed roof pillars that make it rigid structurally. Comfort is a little less than pleasing as the ride is bouncy and somewhat fidgety.
Folding of the full-length canvas roof is done in stages. In mid-position there is some buffeting and wind noise, although it fares better than most small convertibles. Fully retracted, the roof allows for lots of noise. When the roof is up, the cabin is quite well insulated.
Although expensive to buy, the 500C makes up for it a little by having low costs for servicing, insurance and day-to-day running. There is a stop-start system on most models and fuel economy is quite good. Resale values are great and both tax ratings and emissions are low.
The cabin is finished nicely, even if a couple of panels are drab looking. The roof is easy to operate but reliability ratings in the 2012 JD Power survey were only average.
It earned five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests and comes with seven standard airbags, including one for the knees of the driver. The canvas roof compromises security though and the entry models do not have stability control.
The height of the driver’s seat cannot be changed, only the angle. Neither does the steering wheel have a reach adjustment. When the roof is fully down, rear visibility is completely horrible.
There is plenty of room in the front and the rear is bearable, even for adults. The boot is a decent size and the rear seats will fold down to create extra space. When the boot lid rises, the roof will slide up to allow for better access.
Basic Pop models have everything needed such as power front windows, air-con and central locking. Lounge models add painted mirrors, parking sensors, Bluetooth, chrome trim, 15-inch alloy wheels and climate control. You can add many other options and accessories from an impressive list, including panel stickers, plus decals and leather trim.