Cruising along the Hudson
That large-car personality does have its advantages. We're soon beyond the confines of the city and speeding along the rainy Palisades Parkway. Many subcompacts don't do well cruising at 80 mph, and that's before you take a can opener to their roofs. The 500C, though, couldn't be happier. Even with the top fully retracted, it hustles along, completely unperturbed by crosswinds or tire spray. The variable effort steering, which is so lifeless in the urban logjam, is confidence-inspiring at speed, feeling direct and firm but never nervous.
With the top up, the 500C is incredibly quiet and solid for a convertible, mostly a tribute to the fact that it really isn't so much a convertible as it's a hardtop with a panoramic sunroof. Fiat added reinforcements to the windshield and door frames, as well as in the rear behind the package shelf. Over some serious road rash, one can hear a few rattles that may be caused by the top shifting in its tracks. The top design also allows us to take advantage of short bursts of dry weather on the fly. The top can be rolled part-way back at speeds up to 60 mph and reclines fully at 50 mph or less.
Predictably, there's some wind noise in either position, but it's not overwhelming and has little to no discernable effect on the car's exceptional cruising character. The 500C also feels commendably spacious, with none of the top-up claustrophobia typical to convertibles. And since the roof just piles atop the decklid, it leaves plenty of room for a weekend's worth of luggage -- 23.4 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down.