Model Details

500C Convertible

  • Brand: Abarth
  • Body Type: Hatchback
The Abarth 500C, the performance version of the Fiat 500 convertible. As you can probably tell from the pictures, the drop-top 500 isn’t a full-on roadster, rather a car incredibly similar to the regular three-door hatch but with a sardine-tin style retracting fabric roof, and one which all but completely blocks your rear visibility when it’s in its most open position.

No man can look macho in a 500C, and irrespective of how aggressive Abarth has made the bodywork, it’s still far too cute. So despite being a brand that specialises in performance and race cars, Abarth admits to chasing the ladies with this one. Sixty per cent of convertible buyers are women, and as with the Ford StreetKa, you can bet that figure will be even higher on a model like this.

There’s a dizzying array of models to choose from, with three trim lines, two engines and two gearboxes. The range starts with 133bhp 1.4-litre ‘T-Jet’ turbo, with a choice of five-speed manual and automated manual gearboxes, while a 158bhp version, called the 595, gets the same transmission options with the choice of Turismo and Competizione spec levels. The price ranges from an accessible £16,005 to a more trinket-like £22,005.

Technical highlights?

These centre around the optional semi-automatic gearbox, for this is the model it debuted on for Abarth. As usual with this type of ‘box it runs either like an auto or you can flick the wheel-mounted paddles and do it yourself. There are two settings for the speed of change normal and sport, but unless you ease off the throttle the sport setting is quite jerky.

By fitting this car with an automated five-speed manual with paddles, it links back to the very first product built by Karl Abarth in 1949. He developed a race gearbox with steering wheel controls and its spiritual successor can be found here. Inevitably, a more modern twin-clutch setup would be smoother and more effective, and keen drivers – as ever – will probably want to stick with the manual.