Letting your hair down in a Fiat convertible.
While I fantasize about driving fast with the top down and the wind blowing my hair, the reality is my curly hair snarls and I worry about gas mileage. After all, I’m the person in the middle of a massage concerned about the spa’s profligate use of towels.
But the Fiat 550C Lounge Cabrio appeals to both the fun-seeker and the environmentalist in me. The soft-top 2-door gets 40 miles per gallon on the highway – it’s rated for 34 in the city – and has surprising power in a small package.
Small But Fun: A Look Into the Future?
We drove the car from San Diego to Torrey Pines State Park, where the parking lot was filled with Priuses, a Tesla and several BMW convertibles. I felt we had the whole package in one car – and I was surprised by the paucity of SUVs. In NYC, where I live, the parking lot at our local supermarket is filled with SUVs (as if New Yorkers go off-roading in the city). But in Southern California, land of the mega-freeway, small dominated.
You don’t realize how hilly San Diego is until you tackle in in a stick shift, but the Cabrio responded admirably and we never stalled.
The Cabrio’s Soft Top: Open Sesame
The soft top was easy to put up or down, with the touch of a button. Though every other convertible car we saw was parked with the top down, and we had nothing in the car, every time we stopped we put the top up. You can take the girl out of New York…
Great for Kids, Yes, But Grown-ups Too?
Both my best friend’s father and my father-in-law bought Fiat Spiders when they turned 50. Convertibles are a midlife crisis cliché, of course, but what many buyers don’t realize is that low-slung sports cars wreak havoc on 50-year-old backs and knees. The Cabrio, like the Mini Cooper, is a sporty convertible that doesn’t force you to contort your ancient body into the car.
The Cabrio’s price point – the base model is $22,500 – makes it ideal for a teen or young adult, too. With the excellent gas mileage, fuel costs are also low, and there’s no room for a lot of distractions: the lack of touch screen, the limited room for passengers and the stick shift option that makes it a difficult car to drive while texting, means parents of teens can relax a little bit more when their kids are behind the wheel.
What We Loved
- Smooth, easy shifting
- Split rear seat if you want to bring your surfboard
- The simple console (no touchscreen) has a power outlet, auxiliary jack and hands-free USB port
- Sirius XM Radio is standard
- Great gas mileage
What You Need to Know
- Base price is $22,00. Extras on the car I drove, including leather seats and Beats Audio premium package, brought the price to $26, 250
- 4 year, 50,000 mile warranty
- Though the Cabrio seats four, large passengers will feel cramped in the rear seats (though with the top down, they will have plenty of head room)
- The car was not rated by the government for frontal crash, side crash or rollover risk, but it has safety features like supplemental front side and side-curtain and rear airbags, anti-lock disc brakes and electronic stability control.
Disclosure: The 500c Cabrio was provided to us by Fiat for our review; opinions are purely our own.