The Fiat 500 Cabrio, or 500c for short, has been around since 2006
but at this week’s 2011 New York Auto Show the wraps came off the U.S.-spec version of the cutesy open-top minicar. Like its European cousin, the 500c gets a slide-back canvas roof that mimics the design on the original Nuova Cinquecento from the 1950s (pictured).
Because of the top's unique design, it can be operated at speeds of up to 60 mph, unlike a typical retracting-lid type top. It's power operated, so a single button press opens and closes the rig. Press the roof button again, and the roof will neatly fold all the way open and tuck neatly behind the rear head restraints (up to 50 mph).
Differentiating the 500c from the hatchback model is a slightly longer windshield designed to provide passengers with a maximized outward view. In addition, the windshield also conceals the reinforced upper-cross member.
At the rear of the new Fiat 500c, a roof-mounted and color-matched spoiler improves aerodynamics, while integrating the center high-mounted stop lamp that functions with the roof up or down.
Unfortunately, the cabrio design doesn't leave much room for carry-ons. The cargo area's 5.4 cubic feet when it's lowered; with the top up and rear seats folded down, some 23.4 cubic feet are preserved for stuff.
The 500c has the same 101 horsepower and 98 pound-feet of torque, 1.4-liter four-cylinder as in the hatchback. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, a six-speed automatic an option. When paired with the manual, the 500c delivers up to 38 highway mpg.
Like the 500 hatchback, the 500c convertible has options for unique interior trim, a TomTom navigation system and Bluetooth connectivity. The USB port comes bundled with the nav package, and is tucked away in the glove box.
Another connectivity feature is BLUE&ME handsfree communication, a voice-activated communication system that allows the driver to operate a Bluetooth-compatible phone while keeping his or her hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.
The new 2012 Fiat 500c arrives in dealerships this spring. In the meantime, check out our full coverage of the 2011 New York Auto Show by clicking here