At certain angles, it's hard to tell that this is even a soft top. However, from the rear, it becomes apparent. Unlike most "convertibles," The 500c uses a sliding soft top, which maintains the car's rear pillars. Essentially, it's just the center section that retracts, starting at the windshield and ending at the top of the tiny trunk. In fact, the top can be lowered and raised while driving, up to a certain speed, of course.
Driving dynamics are very good. The car feels very nimble and is a lot of fun to throw into corners. The Lounge model comes standard with Fiat's six-speed automatic transmission mated to the sophisticated 1.4-liter Multiair four cylinder making 101 hp and 98 ft. lbs. or torque. This combo does have a shift-it-yourself "manumatic" feature, too. The 500c is available with a five-speed manual transmission, but only on the "Pop" trim level.
My overall first impressions were favorable: A comfortable, chic convertible that drives as well as it looks. The power top is very cool, and is easy to use. I prefer a manual transmission, but the six-speed auto does its job admirably.
A 500c Pop starts at $19,500. This Lounge model can be had starting at $23,500; this version was around $25,000. This puts it on par with the MINI Cooper Convertible in terms of pricing, too.
So Fiat's diminutive 500c is a lot of fun to drive, feels solidly built, and is priced competitively. Will it have what it takes to challenge MINI for European small car supremacy here in the U.S.? We'll have to wait and see. However, from my short time with the 500c, I'd say it's a worthy competitor.