More than two-thirds of current Fiat 500 owners bought their car because of its looks. Fiat expects much the same with its new convertible 500 C.
Aimed at customers between 25 and 45 with “spirited views of life and a developed sense of style and humour”, 70% of 500 C will be sold to women.
Only 1,500 units will be sold this year due to production constraints, less than 10% of Fiat 500’s total 20,310 sales in 2009. Next year, this will increase to around 15% of 500 sales.
There’s a premium of £3,000 over the hatchback, with prices starting at £13,100. But standard versions do have a higher specification than the hatchback equivalent, with seven airbags, central looking, unique alloys and air-con.
It is offered in two trims, Pop and Lounge. The superior Lounge, from £12,700, has ESP, rear parking sensors, front fog lights and automatic climate control. Around 80% of orders so far have been for Lounge.
There are three engines: 1.2-litre and 1.4-litre petrol and 1.3-litre diesel Multijet. The diesel version tops the price range at £14,100.
There’s plenty of upsell opportunity with a huge range of customisations including a blackboard-style panel on the dashboard, a make-up holder and new body stickers.
For a real treat, a key fob cover can be made from crystallised inserts.
Fiat is offering a £199 per month finance package for the launch. There will also be a free “beauty treatment” consisting of two valets in the two years following the purchase.
It will “help the car looking and smelling like when it was bought”, said Fiat.
Its main competitor is the Mini convertible. Although a Mini One Convertible is due to launch, its cheapest model currently available is the Cooper starting at £15,995.
Fiat said the 500 C stood out by being “a unique happy car”.
There are no plans to launch an Abarth version of 500 C.
The consumer view
Driving on a combination of roads – some smooth and fast, others badly pitted – there was little of the flex which afflicts some convertibles. There is one downside to the roof when it’s fully retracted though; it completely ruins rear visibility. Heaped on top of the boot, it fills the rear view mirror and forces you to use the side mirrors.
This car has nothing to do with outright door handle-scraping performance and everything to do with flowing along and immersing yourself in the car’s engaging character.