The tres chic 2012 Fiat 500 Cabriolet. Photo by Don Bain.

The 2012 Fiat 500C is the perfect car for urban fashionistas

The 2012 Fiat 500 Cabriolet is so stylish and cute it’s as much a fashion accessory as a comfortable, functional commuter for the design conscious urban fashionista.

Aside from the fact it will decidedly appeal to those with double X chromosomes, the most noticeable thing about the 2012 Fiat 500C, other than overwhelming cuteness, is the astonishingly smooth ride provided by the suspension.

This little car takes the minor bumps, dips and undulations of normal asphalt pavement in full stride, smoothing out all but the most severe surface anomalies – a remarkable feat in a car only 11.6 feet long. Of course, that also means ridiculously easy parking as well.

Further, for a car that squeezes 27-mpg in town and 32-mpg on the open road out of 1.4-liter inline 4-cylinder MultiAir engine, it seldom seems to strain to get about town. You can tell it is working its heart out when you really demand rapid acceleration, but most of the time it pulls it’s load without complaint.

There are those who say the Fiat 500, in general, has a very noisy cabin. People concerned about this are not likely to buy the Cabriolet, but the noise level is not that intense or annoying in any sense.

Like frogs that will squat calmly in slowly warming water, the mature and well pampered will jump when the first drop of cold water hits their back. Pundits, who point out the noise level of the Fiat 500, have forgotten the youthful ability to tolerate higher levels of all forms of external stimulus. These are the buyers the 2012 Fiat 500C is aimed at pleasing. Noise is not a relevant issue.

These buyers will appreciate the innovative gauging that places all needed information concisely in a single round multi-display immediately behind the steering wheel.

In the center is an orange lighted field providing the odometer reading, time, temp, audio settings, current gear, digital speed, fuel level and engine temperature in black digital mode.

Around this are two analog gauges, the inner display a tachometer and the outer providing a traditional speedometer. Console switches for the windows, take some getting used to, but otherwise, the controls on the center dash for audio and climate settings, as well as the articulated steering wheel, are easy to use.

Naturally the back seat is suitable only for half-pints, but one of my colleagues stated they had managed to get three big men into one comfortable enough for a 20-mile drive. Mind you, though they all were big, only one of the three was truly tall making that arrangement possible.

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The TomTom navigation is an option in the vehicle, which aids in synching your phone, but as a navigator is not the best option. It seemed to frequently have trouble picking up a GPS signal, however that may have been weather or sunspot related. After all, the Northern Lights are showing up much further south this year.

The 2012 Fiat 500 Cabriolet roof has multiple degrees of openness that are an exiting versatility to any lover of open air driving. When the top is fully back, rear visibility is somewhat restricted, but oversize chrome sideview mirrors, more than make up for it. When the top is fully rolled down below the windows, the extra brake light that normally rides just over the rear window is still displayed from the folds of the soft top.

One aspect of driving this car should be noted. It is so darn fashionable, you can’t just hop in it in your grungies. The high-gloss Ivory Pearl exterior and interior motif is perfectly complimented by the Prada Red top and inner accents. Even the 500 logo on the back of the front seats is oh so chic!

I would not only find myself changing clothes to drive it, but at least once had to fight off a compulsion to go shopping for new duds. Like I said, it definitely has a XX chromosome configuration.

Some folks would not feel comfortable in a car this size on busy urban freeways, and such conditions do demand a heightened awareness from a driver. Distracted driving in a car this size could have disastrous results.

The only time I felt a heightened sense of risk came from a high-speed construction zone, where three lanes make a quick, sweeping lane change. In traffic, surrounded by larger vehicles, this could be a source of stress to some.

Yet more and more people are buying smaller cars and the imbalance on the road should begin to improve for the drivers of smaller vehicles.

All in all, the 2012 Fiat 500C is the perfect car for the driver concerned with value, economy, parking space and, of course, style. It is the perfect choice for the urban fashionista.

Comments

I rode with Don in this car for a little bit. Even adding my 250 pounds, the car was pretty smooth for such a small ride. This cabriolet was easier to sit in than the roofed 500 I tried at the Denver show. Great little car and tons of fun. The engine makes that trademark European "putt putt" under the hood too. Neat little car and I don't see why anyone wouldn't want this topless version.