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First Drive: 2012 Fiat 500 Cabrio


Officially, the little red "C" clipped onto the last zero in the FIAT 500 logo stands for "Cabrio," as in convertible, but a better word might be "compromise." But then, "cabrio" does roll off the tongue better than "extra-large sunroof."

For all practical purposes, that's really what the old-timey ragtop on the 500's roof is. Fiat is quick to point out that the rollback design is true to the 1957 original, which is commendable in a way, but no less a compromise. American consumers who remember the 1970s will better associate the roof with Volkswagen Beetles of the era, though this one's significantly better.

 Most important, it's motorized. A pair of buttons above the rearview mirror works the impressively quiet top mechanism. One push of the open button will roll the fabric top back to the rear of the roof, what Fiat's calling the "spoiler position." Push the button again and the top will fold down behind the rear seats for the full experience. One push of the close button brings it back to "spoiler position," and another push closes it. The top can be stopped anywhere in between closed and spoiler position with a push of either button. We'd prefer there was a way to go from fully closed to fully open and vice-versa in one shot, but it's not a deal-breaker.

What's impressive is that the roof can be opened to spoiler position at up to 60 mph and fully opened at up to 50 mph. More impressive is that the soft-top FIAT 500 actually has more headroom for both front and rear Seat passengers with the roof closed than the hardtop. At 5-foot-9, my head was in the ceiling of the hardtop in the rear seat, but had an inch of clearance in the soft-top. It's also surprisingly quiet inside the Cabrio with the roof closed, a testament to how far soft roofs have come.

(Source)


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