First Look: 2012 Fiat 500c

#Fiat, #500c

Although parts of the U.S. are still seeing snowfall, Fiat is getting ready for summer. In anticipation of the warmer weather, the Italian automaker has introduced the 2012 500c, a cabrio version of its subcompact hatchback.

The cute-as-a-button design from the hard-top 500 is carried over, swapping out the roof panel for an electrically folding soft top. The new roof is not a traditional convertible, though -- the A-, B-, and C-pillars remain intact along with the roof rails. What that means is that even with the top lowered, passengers will not get a full open-air experience; a good or a bad thing depending on how much you value your hairdo.

The roof is inspired by the canvas roof that was available when the original Fiat Cinquecento premiered in 1957. While the old car's roof only rolled back to the end of the roof panel and was powered by elbow grease, the 2012 500c's top is electrically actuated and can fold all the way back to rest behind the rear headrests. Driver's can drop the top to its fully open position at up to 50 mph, or fold the roof back to the integrated spoiler to create an open sunroof at up to 60 mph. Opening the rear trunk will cause the roof to lift up, allowing unobstructed access to the diminutive, 5.4-cubic-foot luggage compartment.

The look of the 500c is almost identical to that of the hatchback; however, Fiat has extended the windshield to help reduce wind buffeting with the top down and to give rear passengers better forward visibility with the top up. Hidden in the new windshield is a reinforced upper cross member to help maintain structural rigidity once the roads get twisty.

Color options for the 500c are plentiful, offering the same 14 exterior hues as the hardtop, as well as the choice between ivory or black interior dash and gauge trim. The seats are available in 12 different combinations, with the lower part of the buckets wearing either fabric or leather and the headrests matching the dashboard trim. Buyers will have three choices for soft top colors: nero (black), beige, and bordeaux (red).

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