Fiat 500 Convertible

The Essentials

  • Price from £12,960
  • What Car? says: 3 star rating
  • Fuel economy: up to 72.4mpg
  • What is it? Cute retro-inspired convertible will make you smile every time you drive it

Great

  • Pocket-sized convertible is fun to drive
  • Will seat four at a pinch
  • Cheap to run thanks to stop-start technology

Gripes

  • Think 'big sunroof' rather than proper convertible...
  • ... and say goodbye to rear visibility
  • Not a very smooth ride
  • Drive

    Diesel or Abarth models give perkiest performance; handling feels secure but ride is unsettled

  • Inside

    Annoyingly limited adjustment to help you get comfortable and shocking rear visibility with the roof down

  • Safety

    Seven airbags and a five-star crash test rating are plus points

  • Reliability

    The 500 was rated average for reliability in the 2012 JD Power customer survey

  • Space

    Just enough space for two adults in the back, and enough boot room for day to day use

  • Standard and extras

    Pop trim has the basics: air-con, front electric windows and central locking. Plenty of options to personalise your 500

  • What's it like to drive?

    The 500 is best suited to town driving: the steering is effortless and the 'City' button makes it even lighter so parking and three-point-turns are a doddle. Sadly, the ride is rather unsettled at low speeds, and when you're going faster, you'll feel plenty of body lean in bends.
    The 1.2- and 1.4-litre petrol engines are lively enough, but the turbocharged 0.9-litre Twinair models demand high revs for the best performance. The Multijet diesel is surprisingly punchy, with impressive fuel economy.
    The folding canvas roof kicks up some wind noise when it's fixed halfway down; more when it's fully folded. Roof up it's pretty quiet inside, though.

  • What's it like inside?

    The retro dash looks fantastic and all the instruments do their job perfectly. However, the limited adjustment means that not everyone will find it easy to get comfy behind the wheel. The roof folds back leaving the roof frame in place so it's more like a full-sized sunroof than a true convertible. With the roof folded there's dreadful rear visibility.
    Although two up front will have enough room, the back seats are best for children. The boot is smaller than that in the hatchback but has room for a few bags, and can be extended by folding the rear seats.
    Entry-level Pop trim includes an MP3-compatible stereo and stop-start technology to help keep fuel bills down. Upgrading to Lounge trim adds a glass roof, Bluetooth mobile phone connection, alloy wheels and air-conditioning.

  • How reliable is it?

    The 500 only managed an average score for mechanical reliability in the latest JD Power customer satisfaction survey, with Fiat ranked in the bottom three manufacturers.
    Safety kit is good: all have seven airbags and most have Isofix child seat anchor points. Stability control costs extra, though. The 500 also scored the full five stars in the Euro NCAP crash tests, putting it on a comparable level to the Mini.

  • Should I buy one?

    If you're looking for a bit of roof-down fun without busting the budget the Fiat 500 is a good choice. If you have children who drive, you can bet they'll want to borrow it. That desirability will help its resale values, too.