Fiat 500C, 2010
Unveiled to the world for the first time at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show, the new Fiat 500C pays homage to the original 1957 Fiat 500 and its fabric roof, but also offers innovative solutions in terms of mechanical design, engines and comfort. All this in line with the most authentic Fiat tradition of giving people access to segment firsts in content and technology.
In Italy, the public will be able to take it for a test drive from July 4th, 2009, the birthday of the Fiat 500 and exactly two years after the launch of the model that really raised the bar in terms of comfort, safety, technology and features.
Using a typical open-source approach (i.e. continually evolving a successful product on the basis of input from its users), the Centro Stile Fiat design centre created the Fiat 500C by interacting with the many communities of Cinquecento enthusiasts - notably the 500 Wants You website - and reinforcing the position of the model as "a car for the people, by the people"...
Starting from the saloon version, the introduction of the soft top does not change the winning characteristics of the model such as its four comfortable seats and boot capacity, but it does add new functions that heighten enjoyment. These include easier access to the boot even when the soft top is fully open, thanks to a clever system of parallelogram hinges.
Another strong point of the original cabriolet version is its exceptional climate and acoustic comfort. Thorough aerodynamic research means that the turbulence experienced with the roof open has been reduced to a minimum, allowing full enjoyment of the fresh air and the company of fellow passengers.
The decision to re-interpret the original design in modern key, with an electric sliding roof but a stylistic design that retains the shape of the classic car makes the Fiat 500C less of a seasonal product and one that can be enjoyed the whole year round. In short, all these features make this new vehicle one of the most successful convertibles in the modern city-car segment.
A true object of design, the soft top of the Fiat 500C stands out for its elegant electrically controlled movements and its impressively finished and carefully selected technical features, from the glass rear window to the third brake light built into the soft top itself. Available in three colours (ivory, red and black), the clever soft top is matched with various paint finishes including three ad-hoc creations: a pearlescent Ragamuffin Red, a Tech House Grey so typical of sporty super cars, and Goth-Metal Blue (the latter available for the whole range).
The Fiat 500C has an exclusive feel to its interior, which is embellished with top quality and highly desirable fabrics, including Frau leather upholstery, and a long list of market-dependent standard and optional features: from automatic climate control to the innovative Interscope HiFi System, from the Blue&Me Map portable navigation unit to the smart wind-stop, and from the Start&Stop system to the new collection of customisable options.
A free and emotive expression of the automobile, the Fiat 500C retains the same dimensions as the base model (355 cm long, 165 cm wide and 149 cm high) and shares all three of its power units: the 75 HP 1.3-litre MultiJet turbodiesel engine combined with a five-speed manual gearbox and the two 69 HP 1.2 litre and 100 HP 1.4 litre petrol engines, both available with manual or Dualogic robotised gearbox. Each engine offers different qualities, but all three are defined by generosity and a lively temperament, as well as high performance and sophisticated technology. Among their common qualities are great reliability and respect for the environment (all are Euro5-approved). To confirm Fiat Automobiles' commitment to environmental protection and sustainable mobility, the Fiat 500C includes the innovative "Start&Stop" system, which controls the temporary cutting out of the engine and its subsequent restarting. When the vehicle stops, putting the gear lever in neutral and releasing the clutch will switch off the engine; to restart, simply put the car back into gear.
With the commercial launch of its latest convertible, the Fiat 500 continues to be talked about and confirms its status as a real Italian style icon, able to win over the public and critics worldwide. The best evidence of its success are the 30 awards it has won across the globe, the 11 million internet users that have visited its website (viewing a total of 200 million pages) and the more than 360,000 orders so far received across the 59 markets in which it is being sold.
This is all the more impressive when you consider that more than half the sales have been recorded outside Italy (50% elsewhere in Europe and 8% in the rest of the world). In each country where it has been launched, the Fiat 500 has generated enormous interest: in Japan, for example, there have been more than 5,000 orders. It should also be highlighted that 80% of Fiat 500 clients select the most expensive features and 90% ask for the Blue& Me system.
In short, as an expression of Italy's finest automotive design, the Fiat 500 is not merely a super-compact city car, but a real platform upon which Fiat Automobiles is building a whole family of cars with advanced technology and high attention to detail. The new Fiat 500C represents another step forward in this direction.
Alluring shape and innovative design
First of all, the front of the car differs for a slightly higher windscreen needed to resize the upper cross member; this gives a better view for the rear passengers, a stronger body and superbly clean lines. These are also enhanced by the continuity of the windscreen, which extends to the fabric roof without exposing any part of the bodywork (an extremely elegant and technologically sophisticated solution in keeping with the spirit of the Fiat 500C).
From the side, the car stands out for the outline of the pillars which present strong arches in contrast with the shape of the soft top. The soft top really defines the upper lines of the Fiat 500C and gives it a more slender look compared with the saloon version. Staying with the side view, the alloy wheels also stand out: one option is 16 inches, with a cross-spoked design that has echoes of the original 1960s spoked wheels; another is 15 inches, with a more fluid design (both wheels have the classic cup-shaped locking nuts embossed with the 500 logo).
But it is the rear aspect of the new car that is most different, particularly the clear division between the upper fabric part and the car's steel bodywork, emphasised by chrome trim like that of the Fiat 500 versions from 1957 onwards. This stylistic element makes the rear of the car appear wider by creating a horizontal line across it. In addition, the rear window (in glass with an electric demister) is more rounded. While retaining the same visibility as the 500 saloon, its smoother corners are closer in design to its 1950s forerunner.
Another important feature of the new car is the boot: this opens upwards without protruding from the shape of the vehicle (this means there is no need to step away when loading luggage). In addition, if the soft top is down, an electronic device lifts it a few centimetres to allow the boot to be fully opened. This is an extremely functional and streamlined solution which can be appreciated both for its usability, and for the way it integrates with the vehicle. It should be stressed that the Fiat 500C is "best in class" in its segment for the ease and versatility of loading and unloading. Merit for this goes to the spacious luggage compartment (with a capacity of 182 litres - just three litres less than the saloon version), the traditional upwards-opening boot and wide access.
Finally, the soft top of the new convertible comes in three colours (ivory, red and black) to match the numerous body colours (six pastel, three metallic and two pearlescent). Some of these are inspired by the vintage colours of its forerunner while others are up to date and boast a really contemporary look. Among these, three were created specifically for the Fiat 500C: pearlescent Ragamuffin Red, Tech House Grey (typical of high performance super cars) and elegant Goth-Metal Blue. (The latter is available for the whole range).
The interior of the Fiat 500C is equally exclusive, and boasts top quality materials. In particular, the new sporty seats are upholstered in a high-quality fabric which constitutes an important feature of the car for its feel and durability. The back and cushion of the rear seats are very enveloping and the side panels are upholstered in leather. As an optional extra, the interior of the Fiat 500C can be upholstered in black, beige or red Frau leather. The chrome trim and a dashboard that matches the exterior colour and is decorated by an exclusive 500C logo complete an elegant and functional interior that can comfortably accommodate four people.
An innovative soft top for a unique style
The soft top of the Fiat 500C is a true object of design, characterised by a sophisticated electrically controlled movement and innovative technical solutions. In particular a moulding of the same colour on the soft top acts as a spoiler and houses a third brake light, creating similar aerodynamics to the saloon version and a Cx of 0.33. This excellent figure puts the Fiat 500C at the top of its class, and is achieved by an optimised rear spoiler profile and rear wheel covers.
The comfort of the rear passengers has also received special attention, as proven by an air-flow speed of 7 m/s with the roof open. In addition, when the soft top is down, the spoiler is arranged so that the third brake light can always be seen. The double-layered roof fabric ensures the best possible insulation from the outside and, along with the internal coverings of the pillars, completes a superb finish for the mechanisms controlling the opening and closing of the roof.
The automatic electric soft top can be controlled either by buttons near to the interior ceiling light or from the remote control. In addition, the soft top can be operated throughout its horizontal travel (as far as the spoiler) at any speed. Vertical movement can be engaged at any speed under 60 km/h (37 mph).
The soft top is also easy to use: to open it, just press the button for at least half a second to trigger the movement that then continues automatically up to the spoiler (a midway point can of course be chosen by pressing the button again). Press the button again for at least half a second to fully open the roof. When using the remote control, the roof can be opened only as far as the spoiler. The same processes will close it; for safety reasons, the roof stops at around 25 cm from complete closure (just press the button again to complete the movement).
When the boot is open, the soft top can only be closed (the opening function is de-activated). However, if the roof is fully open and the boot needs to be opened, when the boot is opened the soft top automatically moves to a midway point to avoid obstructing loading operations.
Finally, there an optional wind-stop can easily be positioned behind the rear headrests (fixed to the parcel shelf). This accessory has been tested in a wind tunnel, designed specifically for the Fiat 500C, and made from a special porous material: it gives a notable reduction in turbulence for all passengers, at all speeds. It should be stressed that there is no need to remove the wind-stop to open or close the soft top (another unique feature for this segment of vehicle).
Environmentally friendly engines
The Fiat 500C offers an wide range of excellent engines: two are petrol (a 1.2 litre, 69HP 8v and a 1.4 litre, 100 HP 16v). The third is the 1.3 litre, 75 HP 16v MultiJet turbodiesel with DPF. Each one offers different qualities, but all are combined with a five or six speed manual gearbox. (A Dualogic sequential robotised gearbox is also available for the petrol engines, complete with steering wheel paddle shift on the 1.4 version.) All engines boast a generous, lively temperament, high performance and sophisticated technology. Among their common qualities are excellent reliability and respect for the environment: they all conform to Euro5 standard, and the 1.3-litre MultiJet diesel is fitted with a diesel particulate filter as standard.
The Fiat 500's power units are produced by Fiat Powertrain Technologies (FPT), the division of the Fiat group that is wholly responsible for the innovation, research, design and production of engines and gearboxes for all types of vehicle: from cars to trucks, boats and agricultural equipment. With around 20,000 employees, 16 factories and 11 research centres across nine countries, this division is one of the most important global players in power train manufacturing. At FPT, around 3,000 highly specialised technicians are dedicated to developing and engineering innovative technologies. More than 40 patents filed every year is proof of the quality and seriousness of this commitment, making FPT a centre of excellence for technology and continuous innovation.
More specifically, the proven and reliable 1,242 cm3 Fire develops 51 kW (69 HP) at 5,500 rpm, and a torque of 102 Nm (10.4 kgm) at 3,000 rpm, giving a maximum speed of 160 km/h (99 mph). The Fiat 500C with the 1.2-litre 8v engine and manual gearbox stands out for its low fuel consumption of only 5.1 litres per 100 kilometres in a combined cycle and CO2 emissions of 119 g/km (dropping to 4.8 l/100 km and 113 g/km using the Start&Stop system). Acceleration over 100 metres is an excellent 13.4 seconds, all the more impressive given the car's low fuel consumption. Intelligent engine tuning is the key, as it supplies high torque at low engine speeds (maximising driving pleasure and engine flexibility) combined with gear ratios carefully chosen to reduce consumption.
The brilliant 1.4 litre 16v engine delivers 73.5 kW (100 HP) at 6,000 rpm and a maximum torque of 131 Nm (13.4 kgm) at 4,250 rpm. Developed with high performance and low consumption in mind, this engine puts the Fiat 500C at the top of its class, with a top speed of 182 km/h (113mph) and acceleration 0-100 km/h in just 11 seconds. Fuel economy is impressive too: in the combined cycle, this version consumes only 6.1 l/100 km (with a manual gearbox), dropping to 5.8 l/100 km with Start&Stop. And on top of this, with 100 HP available, this compact car is capable of lively performance and sporty agility in city traffic.
Finally, the new car could not be without the choice of a 1.3 litre, 16v MultiJet diesel - the smallest and most advanced second-generation common rail direct diesel injection engine. Equipped with a fixed geometry turbo compressor and intercooler, this engine develops 75 HP (55 kW at 4,000 rpm) and 14.8 kgm of torque (145 Nm at 1,500 rpm). This engine gives the Fiat 500C excellent performance: a top speed of 165 km/h (102 mph) and acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in only 13 seconds. Fuel consumption and emission levels are also among the best in the segment: 4.2 l/100 km in the mixed cycle and 110 g/km of CO2. This compact and technologically sophisticated power unit is also environmentally friendly (Euro5-approved) and comes with a DPF as standard.
Available as an optional extra on the two petrol-engine models, Start&Stop lets you stop and re-start the engine intelligently when the engine is idling and the vehicle is stationary. In these situations, typical of driving in heavy city traffic, or waiting at traffic lights, provided the control logic allows, the system automatically switches off the engine to save fuel (reducing consumption in the urban cycle by up to 12%).
As soon as you release the brake pedal or put the car in gear, the system promptly restarts the engine, giving you immediate control and response. The Start&Stop system offers further advantages in terms of comfort by eliminating vibration and noise. It is therefore a technological and intelligent solution to the demand for environmentally friendly cars with low fuel consumption.
Finally, the Dualogic gearbox can be added to enable the best possible management of gear changes, and to improve mechanical efficiency. This automated transmission system lays the foundations for more intelligent management of engine operation, and gives even lower fuel consumption and reduced CO2 emissions of only 110 g/km. The system uses the clutch to disengage the engine from the transmission whenever traction is not required, and switches the engine off.
Start&Stop was developed by Fiat Group Automobiles' Engineering & Design department and by FPT (with an important contribution from leading names like Magneti Marelli and Bosch).
Structurally derived from the saloon version (the first car under four metres to receive the five-star Euro NCAP rating), the Fiat 500C retains all the safety components and features (active and passive) that justifiably place it among the market's best in class.
The Fiat 500C is unrivalled in its segment In terms of passive safety, as shown, for example, by the seven airbags offered as standard (two front, two window, two side and one knee bag). The new car's stable and efficient braking system combined with its excellent acceleration and superbly reliable handling allows it to emerge effortlessly from emergency situations.
The Fiat 500C also uses sophisticated technical solutions to ensure that the driver is in perfect control of the car (active safety): from ABS with electronic brake distribution (EBD) to the advanced electronic stability program (ESP), from the anti slip regulation (ASR) system to the Hill Holder device - which helps the driver with hill starts - and hydraulic brake assistance (HBA) to help with emergency stops.
Moreover, to ensure the safety of the driver and passengers, the new model has a body designed according to the latest crash resistance criteria (this is the first super-compact car equipped with a front-end structure specifically designed to improve inter-vehicle compatibility in head-on collisions, with a rigid cabin to protect the occupants and high-absorption zones on the outside.
Both front safety belts have dual pretensioners and load limiters (those in the rear are three-point belts). The front and rear seats are equipped with an anti-submarining system that stops the wearer from sliding underneath the seatbelt. Isofix attachments for child car seats are fitted as standard across the range.
The Fiat 500C also boasts modern and sophisticated components for preventive safety, especially when visibility is reduced, for example at night or when in a tunnel. For instance, the Fiat 500C is the first in its segment to offer, as an operational extra, Xenon headlights with dipping and full-beam functions for better visibility and excellent light output in all weather conditions. In these bulbs, the filaments of conventional gas-discharge bulbs have been replaced by two electrodes - just a few millimetres apart - that generate an electrovoltaic discharge in an atmosphere of low-pressure Xenon. Made by Magneti Marelli Automotive Lighting, these bulbs give three times the light intensity and duration of standard halogen headlight lamps.
Finally, the Fiat 500C has all the dynamic and comfort features that allow users to embark comfortably and safely on any journey. The suspension system based on a Magneti Marelli design plays a fundamental role in this: front suspension is provided by independent McPherson struts while the rear suspension is semi-independent with a torsion axle. The semi-independent torsion-axle rear suspension system also features an anti-roll bar derived from the Fiat 500 Abarth to improve handling and comfort.
Standard and optional features (Italian market)
It is no exaggeration to say that anyone can find the Fiat 500C that best suits his or her demands and tastes. This is thanks to an extensive range distinguished by nine paint finishes, two equipment versions (Lounge and Rock) and three interior trims with different fabrics or leather, as well as over 100 accessories created specially for the 500. In short, the new convertible version has all the features that a modern car can have, including those that were the reserve of far higher segments until very recently.
In Italy, the range starts with the Lounge version, which has a large number of features as standard. In terms of safety, for example, there are seven airbags (two at the front, two window bags, two at the side and one to protect the knees), ABS with EBD and front headlights with DRL (daytime running lights) function. The new 500C Lounge is available with all engine configurations. In particular, the version with the 1.4-litre, 100 HP 16v engine also includes as standard the sophisticated ESP system and a sporty instrument panel.
For maximum comfort, the Fiat 500C Lounge offers the most advanced features on the market today: Dualdrive electric power steering, parking sensors, manual climate control, Blue&Me system, radio/CD/MP3 player, height-adjustable leather steering wheel with controls, height-adjustable front seat and 50/50 split rear seat with headrests, central locking and electric windows, key with customisable remote control and active handle on rear door.
On the outside, the Lounge version stands out for its Chrome kit, which includes elegant chrome trim on the side windows, exhaust terminal, the interior door handle inserts, gear lever and the front and rear bumpers. The 185/55 R15" alloy wheels and the electric wing mirrors painted to match the body come as standard. Finally, the inside is distinguished by special black or brown leather fabric.