As cool as the Fiat Abarth 500 models may be, the new 2009 Fiat 500C may be one of the greatest versions of the retro minicar yet.
No, it may not have the brute power of the Abarth esse-esse, but the 500C may be the purest reinterpretation of the original Nuova 500.
Although it's been noted that the drop-top version of the 500 isn't a true convertible, we'll remind you that was also the case for the 500 upon its launch back in 1957. Steel roof rails framed the cabin, while a cloth top slid up and down between them. Passengers could open as much or as little of the car to the elements as desired.
The new 500C is no different. At the press of a button, the top slides rearward, forming either a small sunroof over the front seats or a giant aperture over all four passengers. The mechanism is quite clever - a roof spoiler over the rear window is still visible once folded, allowing the high-mounted brake lamp to poke through. Another plus: dropping the top doesn't encroach on the (already limited) cargo hold.
I'm also a fan of some of the new color schemes available only on the 500C. Both "pearl red" and "warm grey" are exclusive to the convertible, and although the rouge isn't anything ground breaking, the grey - especially when paired with a red top - is stunning.
There's no denying the appeal of the 160-hp Abarth, but should the Fiat-Chrysler liason pan out and the 500 becomes available in America, I think my money would go towards the convertible. Here's hoping Abarth does the insane and tunes a 500C in the near future.