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Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Fiat 500c: The Details...

While we are waiting for the North American Fiat 500c Cabriolet to be unveiled later today at the 2011 New York Auto Show, let's take a look at the some of the details that went into the making of the 500c.  The following is a re-visit to a post I did on the 500c back in July 2009.

Please note this post is based on the European Fiat 500c - the NA 500c is expected to have some detail differences.  I'll explore them when I get back from the show.  In the meantime, please enjoy:

Let's take a detailed look at the new Fiat 500C with the help of Fiat & Abarth Style Director, Roberto Giolito.

Alluring shape and innovative design

"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".

Windshield of the Fiat 500C: Notice how it goes up to meet
the fabric roof. This shows the attention to detail
(and expense) that Fiat lavished on the Fiat 500C. Most
small car makers in this segment would skip this detail
design work.

Windshield of the Fiat 500: Compare to the 500C,
the windshield is shorter and there is a steel panel
between the windshield and the glass roof panel.

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 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).

Design elements at the rear of the Fiat 500C: chrome trim,
functioning roof spoiler and a back window in glass
with defroster element.

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, emphasized by chrome trim like that of the 500 versions from 1957 onward. 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 defroster) 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 centimeters 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 liters - just three liters less than the saloon version), the traditional upwards-opening boot and wide access.

Finally, the soft top of the new convertible comes in three colors (ivory, red and black) to match the numerous body colors (six pastel, three metallic and two opalescent). Some of these are inspired by the vintage colors 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 color 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
Bodied colored roof spoiler on the Fiat 500C contributes
to its excellent coefficient of drag of 0.33.

The soft top of the Fiat 500C is a true object of design, characterized by a sophisticated electrically controlled movement and innovative technical solutions. In particular a molding of the same color 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 optimized rear spoiler profile and rear wheel covers.

Rear spoiler of the Fiat 500C incorporates third brake
light that can still be seen when the top is down.

The comfort of the rear passengers has also received special attention, as pr oven 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 roof of the Fiat 500C can be opened to the first position
at any speed, like a big sunroof.

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).

Exterior views of the Fiat 500C. The roof can be
operated by a remote control.

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.

With thanks to Fiat Group Press

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Will there be a "Sport" version of the Cabrio?

Or must I await the Abarth version?