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Fiat 500c Makes Everyday A Trip To Capri

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On: Thu, Jul 28, 2011 at 3:08PM | By: Chris Salamone

Fiat 500c Makes Everyday A Trip To Capri

With Fiat’s recent majority acquisition of Chrysler and Fiat dealerships popping up all over, I found myself wondering just how Fiat’s purchase would impact the Chrysler brand. In pursuit of that question, I dove head-first into periodicals and blogdom, but finally settled on one source which might settle my natural apprehension of foreign takeovers—the latest Fiat model to be released Stateside.

The Fiat 500c, named such because of the mere fact that it is a cabriolet, is an incredibly interesting-ooking vehicle. From the classic design to its functional interior, the Fiat 500c will undoubtedly remind consumers of the Fiats of yesterday. Although founded in 1899, Fiat really became a legendary brand after World War II for producing vehicles that war-ravaged Europe could afford. And because of Fiat’s incredible success in the last 60 years, their quirky and practical vehicles have left a uniquely Italian mark on fans throughout the globe.

I still remember the first Fiat which graced my eyes. It was blue, with wicker seats. In point of fact, at the time I could think of nothing more exciting than the prospect of driving around Capri with a wicker-seated Fiat. And, maybe most exhilarating, the new Fiat 500c invokes the same desire.

The 500c comes in two basic models: Pop and Lounge. Pop starts at $19,500, but still comes with the same dual-layer power cloth roof, 7 standard air bags, a trip computer, and tire-pressure monitoring display. The next, and highest, level of the 500c starts at $23,500. As such, the Lounge models adds a six-speed automatic transmission, chrome accents, Sirius Satellite Radio, a Bose audio system, BLUE&ME technology, and the Eco:Drive Application.

But don’t expect big performance. Both vehicles offer only 101 hp and 98 lb ft of torque—numbers which might worry the average highway-journeying American. Perhaps more concerning, fuel economy numbers are significantly lower for the automatic Lounge version. The 5-speed manual achieves 38 mpg on the highway, while the 6-speed automatic can muster up to only 32 mpg.

But the negatives stop there. Fiat claims they have the best-in-class rear seat and leg room, best-in-class interior sound quality, and the retractable roof takes no space away from your storage capacity. Compared to competitor cabriolets, the 500c is MUCH less expensive and appears to offer a vehicle with equal practicality that’s also super fun to drive.

The 500 has been popular amongst European drivers for decades and, in light of that spirit, it has been the automotive science experiment for consumers, dealers, and manufacturers alike. Hopefully, that same spirit will create some interesting US spin-offs featuring canopy roofs or crazy colors. Yet, regardless of how you feel about wicker, Fiat’s heritage and the quality of the incoming 500c say something about what we can expect to see with Chrysler. Fiat clearly appreciates where cars come from and what they mean to people as a symbol.

Chrysler has no shortage of symbolic references or tradition and, I hope, we can expect to see Fiat embracing and appreciating the Chrysler brand in the same way.

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dwalter | 5:26PM (Thu, Jul 28, 2011)

It'll be interesting to see if these catch on as well in the States as they did in the UK

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