As promised Fiat offered today a preview of its future 500C set to be revealed in March at the Geneva Motor Show.
The 500C has the same dimensions as the coupe version: 3.55 m x 1.65 m x 1.49 m. It is also powered by the same three engines available in the hardtop: a 1.3-liter 75 hp Multijet turbodiesel, 1.2-liter 69 hp gad unit, or 1.4-liter 100 hp gas engine. The big difference is what Fiat calls, "a fully fledged window to the sky."
The 500C follows in the tradition of the original Fiat 500 and uses a rolling roof design that allows the car to retain the shape of the coupe. Because the car does not lose its B or C pillars, structural rigidity that can easily be lost when turning a car into a convertible should be minimized here. The soft top will be available in three colors (ivory, red and black) and sales should begin in Europe in the spring.
Press release after the jump.
A worldwide preview of the Fiat 500C presentation will take place at the next Geneva Motorshow, before its launch throughout Europe this spring. Evocative of "freedom and emotion", this original ’cabriolet’ pays homage to the open-top 1957 model whilst offering leading-edge solutions for mechanical units, powerplants and interior comfort. All this in authentic Fiat tradition giving access to higher segment engineering and technology hitherto unheard of.
Featuring an innovative softtop - a fully fledged window to the sky - the new 500C comes in the same size as the basic model (3.55 m x 1.65 m x 1.49 m) and the same three powerplants: the 1.3 liter 75 HP Multijet Turbodiesel coupled to a 5-speed manual transmission and the two 1.2 liter 69 HP and 1.4 liter 100 HP gasoline engines, available with either manual or robotized Dualogic transmission. Providing different features, all three engine types are generously sized, have a brilliant temperament and offer high performance based on sophisticated technology. Standard features include stubborn reliability and environmental friendliness.
Moreover, as proof of Fiat Automobiles commitment to ecology and sustainable mobility, the new 500C incorporates the innovative “Start&Stop” system, a device controlling momentary engine shutdown and subsequent reignition. To this end, at every stop when shifting to neutral and releasing the clutch, the engine is switched off and then restarted simply by selecting a gear.
Created by the Fiat Styling Center and manufactured at the Tichy plant in Poland, the 500C is of the “open source” design, implying the addition of new functions to a highly successful existing product. Indeed, the Fiat 500C incorporates all the strong points of the basic model, namely top-of-segment safety features, 4-adult seat habitability and generous luggage space combined with excellent loadability also with the soft top fully open, thanks to a clever parallelogram hinge device.
A highly original exercise in design, the softtop of the Fiat 500C stands out for its refined electrically operated linkage and engineering solutions of great quality and finish, such as the glass backlight and the built-in center high mounted stop light. Available in three colors (ivory, red and black), this original soft top will be matched with several bodywork color schemes, two of which have been conceived specifically for the new car, i.e. a brilliant Pearl Red and a special Warm Grey typical of sports supercars. Last but not least, thanks to the adoption of the innovative sliding softtop combined with a styling concept which retains all-round protection, the Fiat 500C offers a delightful ride in any season of the year. All told, its many special features make this new car one of the best turned out cabriolet models currently on offer in the city-car segment.
The 500C is further proof of Fiat’s undisputed leadership in this vehicle class where continuous innovation ensures that its position as the industry’s standard is maintained. In fact the car sets new levels of in terms of comfort and safety, engineering and appointments whilst maintaining that unique and inimitable "Italian style". A new cabriolet is born which gives great excitement and utmost driving pleasure, combining captivating lines with the performance of flexible, environment-friendly engines.
"The Fiat 500C is not only the "open" version of the 500 launched in July 2007," explains Roberto Giolito, Fiat & Abarth Style Director. "In fact, thanks to the wide range of available versions, this new model is really a whole new car in its own right, with a strong personality inherited from the original 1957 model and an undoubted sentimental value brought to it by so many fans over the years. If, on the one hand, the Fiat 500C respects the original version, on the other it enriches it with new features which, thanks to stylistic choices, afford each one of us maximum freedom of use".
First of all, the front of the car differs for a slightly higher windscreen needed to resize the upper cross member; this gives a better view for the rear passengers, a stronger body and superbly clean lines. These are also enhanced by the continuity of the windscreen, which extends to the fabric roof without exposing any part of the bodywork (an extremely elegant and technologically sophisticated solution in keeping with the spirit of the 500C).
From the side, the car stands out for the outline of the pillars which present strong arches in contrast with the shape of the soft top. The soft top really defines the upper lines of the 500C and gives it a more slender look compared with the saloon version. Staying with the side view, the alloy wheels also stand out: one option is 16 inches, with a cross-spoked design that has echoes of the original 1960s spoked wheels; another is 15 inches, with a more fluid design (both wheels have the classic cup-shaped locking nuts embossed with the 500 logo).
But it is the rear aspect of the new car that is most different, particularly the clear division between the upper fabric part and the car’s steel bodywork, emphasised by chrome trim like that of the 500 versions from 1957 onwards. This stylistic element makes the rear of the car appear wider by creating a horizontal line across it. In addition, the rear window (in glass with an electric demister) is more rounded. While retaining the same visibility as the 500 saloon, its smoother corners are closer in design to its 1950s forerunner.
Another important feature of the new car is the boot: this opens upwards without protruding from the shape of the vehicle (this means there is no need to step away when loading luggage). In addition, if the soft top is down, an electronic device lifts it a few centimetres to allow the boot to be fully opened. This is an extremely functional and streamlined solution which can be appreciated both for its usability, and for the way it integrates with the vehicle. It should be stressed that the Fiat 500C is "best in class" in its segment for the ease and versatility of loading and unloading. Merit for this goes to the spacious luggage compartment (with a capacity of 182 litres - just three litres less than the saloon version), the traditional upwards-opening boot and wide access.
Finally, the soft top of the new convertible comes in three colours (ivory, red and black) to match the numerous body colours (six pastel, three metallic and two pearlescent). Some of these are inspired by the vintage colours of its forerunner while others are up to date and boast a really contemporary look. Among these, three were created specifically for the Fiat 500C: pearlescent Ragamuffin Red, Tech House Grey (typical of high performance super cars) and elegant Goth-Metal Blue. (The latter is available for the whole range).
The interior of the Fiat 500C is equally exclusive, and boasts top quality materials. In particular, the new sporty seats are upholstered in a high-quality fabric which constitutes an important feature of the car for its feel and durability. The back and cushion of the rear seats are very enveloping and the side panels are upholstered in leather. As an optional extra, the interior of the Fiat 500C can be upholstered in black, beige or red Frau leather. The chrome trim and a dashboard that matches the exterior colour and is decorated by an exclusive 500C logo complete an elegant and functional interior that can comfortably accommodate four people.
An innovative soft top for a unique style
The soft top of the Fiat 500C is a true object of design, characterised by a sophisticated electrically controlled movement and innovative technical solutions. In particular a moulding of the same colour on the soft top acts as a spoiler and houses a third brake light, creating similar aerodynamics to the saloon version and a Cx of 0.33. This excellent figure puts the Fiat 500C at the top of its class, and is achieved by an optimised rear spoiler profile and rear wheel covers.
The comfort of the rear passengers has also received special attention, as proven by an air-flow speed of 7 m/s with the roof open. In addition, when the soft top is down, the spoiler is arranged so that the third brake light can always be seen. The double-layered roof fabric ensures the best possible insulation from the outside and, along with the internal coverings of the pillars, completes a superb finish for the mechanisms controlling the opening and closing of the roof.
The automatic electric soft top can be controlled either by buttons near to the interior ceiling light or from the remote control. In addition, the soft top can be operated throughout its horizontal travel (as far as the spoiler) at any speed. Vertical movement can be engaged at any speed under 60 km/h (37 mph).
The soft top is also easy to use: to open it, just press the button for at least half a second to trigger the movement that then continues automatically up to the spoiler (a midway point can of course be chosen by pressing the button again). Press the button again for at least half a second to fully open the roof. When using the remote control, the roof can be opened only as far as the spoiler. The same processes will close it; for safety reasons, the roof stops at around 25 cm from complete closure (just press the button again to complete the movement).
When the boot is open, the soft top can only be closed (the opening function is de-activated). However, if the roof is fully open and the boot needs to be opened, when the boot is opened the soft top automatically moves to a midway point to avoid obstructing loading operations.
Finally, there an optional wind-stop can easily be positioned behind the rear headrests (fixed to the parcel shelf). This accessory has been tested in a wind tunnel, designed specifically for the Fiat 500C, and made from a special porous material: it gives a notable reduction in turbulence for all passengers, at all speeds. It should be stressed that there is no need to remove the wind-stop to open or close the soft top (another unique feature for this segment of vehicle).
The Fiat 500C offers an wide range of excellent engines: two are petrol (a 1.2 litre, 69HP 8v and a 1.4 litre, 100 HP 16v). The third is the 1.3 litre, 75 HP 16v MultiJet turbodiesel with DPF. Each one offers different qualities, but all are combined with a five or six speed manual gearbox. (A Dualogic sequential robotised gearbox is also available for the petrol engines, complete with steering wheel paddle shift on the 1.4 version.) All engines boast a generous, lively temperament, high performance and sophisticated technology. Among their common qualities are excellent reliability and respect for the environment: they all conform to Euro5 standard, and the 1.3-litre MultiJet diesel is fitted with a diesel particulate filter as standard.
The Fiat 500’s power units are produced by Fiat Powertrain Technologies (FPT), the division of the Fiat group that is wholly responsible for the innovation, research, design and production of engines and gearboxes for all types of vehicle: from cars to trucks, boats and agricultural equipment. With around 20,000 employees, 16 factories and 11 research centres across nine countries, this division is one of the most important global players in power train manufacturing. At FPT, around 3,000 highly specialised technicians are dedicated to developing and engineering innovative technologies. More than 40 patents filed every year is proof of the quality and seriousness of this commitment, making FPT a centre of excellence for technology and continuous innovation.
More specifically, the proven and reliable 1,242 cm3 Fire develops 51 kW (69 HP) at 5,500 rpm, and a torque of 102 Nm (10.4 kgm) at 3,000 rpm, giving a maximum speed of 160 km/h (99 mph). The Fiat 500C with the 1.2-litre 8v engine and manual gearbox stands out for its low fuel consumption of only 5.1 litres per 100 kilometres in a combined cycle and CO2 emissions of 119 g/km (dropping to 4.8 l/100 km and 113 g/km using the Start&Stop system). Acceleration over 100 metres is an excellent 13.4 seconds, all the more impressive given the car’s low fuel consumption. Intelligent engine tuning is the key, as it supplies high torque at low engine speeds (maximising driving pleasure and engine flexibility) combined with gear ratios carefully chosen to reduce consumption.
The brilliant 1.4 litre 16v engine delivers 73.5 kW (100 HP) at 6,000 rpm and a maximum torque of 131 Nm (13.4 kgm) at 4,250 rpm. Devel oped with high performance and low consumption in mind, this engine puts the Fiat 500C at the top of its class, with a top speed of 182 km/h (113mph) and acceleration 0-100 km/h in just 11 seconds. Fuel economy is impressive too: in the combined cycle, this version consumes only 6.1 l/100 km (with a manual gearbox), dropping to 5.8 l/100 km with Start&Stop. And on top of this, with 100 HP available, this compact car is capable of lively performance and sporty agility in city traffic.
Finally, the new car could not be without the choice of a 1.3 litre, 16v MultiJet diesel - the smallest and most advanced second-generation common rail direct diesel injection engine. Equipped with a fixed geometry turbo compressor and intercooler, this engine develops 75 HP (55 kW at 4,000 rpm) and 14.8 kgm of torque (145 Nm at 1,500 rpm). This engine gives the 500C excellent performance: a top speed of 165 km/h (102 mph) and acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in only 13 seconds. Fuel consumption and emission levels are also among the best in the segment: 4.2 l/100 km in the mixed cycle and 110 g/km of CO2. This compact and technologically sophisticated power unit is also environmentally friendly (Euro5-approved) and comes with a DPF as standard.
Available as an optional extra on the two petrol-engine models, Start&Stop lets you stop and re-start the engine intelligently when the engine is idling and the vehicle is stationary. In these situations, typical of driving in heavy city traffic, or waiting at traffic lights, provided the control logic allows, the system automatically switches off the engine to save fuel (reducing consumption in the urban cycle by up to 12%).
As soon as you release the brake pedal or put the car in gear, the system promptly restarts the engine, giving you immediate control and response. The Start&Stop system offers further advantages in terms of comfort by eliminating vibration and noise. It is therefore a technological and intelligent solution to the demand for environmentally friendly cars with low fuel consumption.
Finally, the Dualogic gearbox can be added to enable the best possible management of gear changes, and to improve mechanical efficiency. This automated transmission system lays the foundations for more intelligent management of engine operation, and gives even lower fuel consumption and reduced CO2 emissions of only 110 g/km. The system uses the clutch to disengage the engine from the transmission whenever traction is not required, and switches the engine off.
Start&Stop was developed by Fiat Group Automobiles’ Engineering & Design department and by FPT (with an important contribution from leading names like Magneti Marelli and Bosch).
Structurally derived from the saloon version (the first car under four metres to receive the five-star Euro NCAP rating), the Fiat 500C retains all the safety components and features (active and passive) that justifiably place it among the market’s best in class.
The Fiat 500C is unrivalled in its segment In terms of passive safety, as shown, for example, by the seven airbags offered as standard (two front, two window, two side and one knee bag). The new car’s stable and efficient braking system combined with its excellent acceleration and superbly reliable handling allows it to emerge effortlessly from emergency situations.
The Fiat 500C also uses sophisticated technical solutions to ensure that the driver is in perfect control of the car (active safety): from ABS with electronic brake distribution (EBD) to the advanced electronic stability program (ESP), from the anti slip regulation (ASR) system to the Hill Holder device - which helps the driver with hill starts - and hydraulic brake assistance (HBA) to help with emergency stops.
Moreover, to ensure the safety of the driver and passengers, the new model has a body designed according to the latest crash resistance criteria (this is the first super-compact car equipped with a front-end structure specifically designed to improve inter-vehicle compatibility in head-on collisions, with a rigid cabin to protect the occupants and high-absorption zones on the outside.
Both front safety belts have dual pretensioners and load limiters (those in the rear are three-point belts). The front and rear seats are equipped with an anti-submarining system that stops the wearer from sliding underneath the seatbelt. Isofix attachments for child car seats are fitted as standard across the range.
The Fiat 500C also boasts modern and sophisticated components for preventive safety, especially when visibility is reduced, for example at night or when in a tunnel. For instance, the Fiat 500C is the first in its segment to offer, as an operational extra, Xenon headlights with dipping and full-beam functions for better visibility and excellent light output in all weather conditions. In these bulbs, the filaments of conventional gas-discharge bulbs have been replaced by two electrodes - just a few millimetres apart - that generate an electrovoltaic discharge in an atmosphere of low-pressure Xenon. Made by Magneti Marelli Automotive Lighting, these bulbs give three times the light intensity and duration of standard halogen headlight lamps.
Finally, the Fiat 500C has all the dynamic and comfort features that allow users to embark comfortably and safely on any journey. The suspension system based on a Magneti Marelli design plays a fundamental role in this: front suspension is provided by independent McPherson struts while the rear suspension is semi-independent with a torsion axle. The semi-independent torsion-axle rear suspension system also features an anti-roll bar derived from the 500 Abarth to improve handling and comfort.
Standard and optional features
It is no exaggeration to say that anyone can find the Fiat 500C that best suits his or her demands and tastes. This is thanks to an extensive range distinguished by nine paint finishes, two equipment versions (Lounge and Rock) and three interior trims with different fabrics or leather, as well as over 100 accessories created specially for the 500. In short, the new convertible version has all the features that a modern car can have, including those that were the reserve of far higher segments until very recently.
In Italy, the range starts with the Lounge version, which has a large number of features as standard. In terms of safety, for example, there are seven airbags (two at the front, two window bags, two at the side and one to protect the knees), ABS with EBD and front headlights with DRL (daytime running lights) function. The new 500C Lounge is available with all engine configurations. In particular, the version with the 1.4-litre, 100 HP 16v engine also includes as standard the sophisticated ESP system and a sporty instrument panel.
For maximum comfort, the Fiat 500C Lounge offers the most advanced features on the market today: Dualdrive electric power steering, parking sensors, manual climate control, Blue&Me system, radio/CD/MP3 player, height-adjustable leather steering wheel with controls, height-adjustable front seat and 50/50 split rear seat with headrests, central locking and electric windows, key with customisable remote control and active handle on rear door.
On the outside, the Lounge version stands out for its Chrome kit, which includes elegant chrome trim on the side windows, exhaust terminal, the interior door handle inserts, gear lever and the front and rear bumpers. The 185/55 R15" alloy wheels and the electric wing mirrors painted to match the body come as standard. Finally, the inside is distinguished by special black or brown leather fabric.
For those wanting the maximum in equipment and customisation, there is the Rock version. This adds exclusive features to the already well-equipped Lounge: Xenon headlights with integrated headlamp washers, Frau leather interior, leather gear stick knob, Hi-Fi Interscope sound system and special vintage 16" wheels with spokes like the cars of the 1960s.
Of course, the Fiat 500C also has a long list of exclusive optional extras, some of which appear for the first time in this segment, including: the Start&Stop system, the Dualogic robotised gearbox, fog lights, 16" alloy wheels, Frau leather upholstery, side bumper strips, Xenon headlights and the brand new wind-stop.
Customers can also choose two important items of equipment developed in partnership with Magneti Marelli. : the Blue&Me Nav (which includes a navigation system, speakerphone with Bluetooth® interface and advanced voice recognition, USB port, MP3 player and SMS interpreter) and the multifunctional portable navigation system Blue&Me MAP.
Always looking to make the most sophisticated technology available to all, the Fiat 500C has the innovative Interscope Hi-Fi system, which was designed and created specifically for the 500 model and comes with a radio/CD/MP3 player. The Interscope Hi-Fi system is unique in the way it simultaneously uses three different signal processing methods to produce evocative in-car sound.
Lastly, to make each convertible unique, the new collection of Fiat 500 customisations is available. Noticeable for its attention to graphic detail, the new range is fresh in terms of the original designs and the choice of a chrome finish. Butterflies, European capitals and hinges provide new sticker creativity, and there are fresh ideas for the car interior too: there are recreational items, such as the blackboard-style panel on the dashboard, but also everyday items for women, such as the make-up holder. In addition, the key fob lights up and can be further embellished with a key cover made from CRYSTALLIZED™ Swarovski elements. For the most demanding customers, there are also wheel air valve caps with the Fiat logo enamelled in colour.