Posts Tagged ‘Convertible’


There isn’t many cars that are capable of making you smile from the moment you see them, in fact there isn’t many things in the world that can make you smile, let’s face it this country hasn’t got much to smile about, with tax, bank bail outs, job losses it’s not a happy place to be at all.

Well I found the solution to all these problems and it comes with a soft top, the little 500 has been around since 1957 when a post war Italy needed a small, cheap and economical car to get the country moving again. It was very successful, it lasted all the way to 1975 when it was replaced with the 127.

It made a return in 2007 with the new retro model that we see today, now Fiat have taken a can opener and taken the roof off and I promise it will put a smile on your face to see it coming down the road, but it will make you a happy person to drive it.

You see the 500 is no shrinking violet, in fact in the time I was driving it around I couldn’t have attracted more attention if I turned up in a pink Zonda! Even parking it meant that it was surrounded by people by the time I got back. There is a certain Italian style about the whole car but it’s not all mouth and no trousers. The cabin is made out of some great materials and there’s great attention to detail in the styling. The best part of the design is the speedo housing, there’s only one cowl so on the outer ring is all the warning lights, the next ring in is the speedo and inside that is the rev counter. It’s nice to watch the rev needle chase the speedo needle around, in the centre there’s an MFD that can tell you everything from radio channel to average fuel consumption, when the car is stopped you can get into the settings for disabling the air bag and hooking up your phone to the blue and me system, which can be controlled by voice, so you can tell the car to dial a number and I have to say it never got the number wrong even when I spoke very fast, smart system.

On the road the suspension is firm but I would expect that from a car that has the wheel base of a roller skate, the little 1.2ltr engine puts out 68bhp but it doesn’t matter because even when your going slow it feels quick, it’s the size of the car, a go-cart with a roof. It handles like a go-cart too, you point the nose and it goes there, it’s a fun car to drive.

The point of this car is to be different, it does that perfectly, it’s non threatening, cute and most important convertible. The peel back roof is fully electric and can be operated by two buttons near the rear view mirror or the key fob. When it’s fully open it’s breezy enough in the cabin, if you leave it 3/4 open it’s just nice, a diffuser pops up at the front to push the air over the car. On a warm day it’s a lovely place to be when you’re pootling around town, and you don’t have to stop to put the roof up, you can open or close the roof at up to 60kph. When it rains the cloth roof make you feel like your in a tent, the pitter-patter of rain drops is homely while the climate control gives a warm and fuzzy feeling.

In the week I had the car I met many people, there wasn’t one of them who didn’t like the little 500c, on Saturday I met the Druid bike club, even some of the hairiest men thought the car was cool, Sunday I went along to a drift track where people only think about smoking tyres, the 500c still got the nod of approval.

From the moment I saw the little Fiat I started to smile and that smile only went away when I had to give it back, this is the only car that managed to evict my Leon from the garage, I made room for the 500 to sleep. This car has personality, it’s become a member of the family, the kids love to drive along with the roof open looking out at the sky. Sure there are some compromises, size being the obvious one, but I still got both child seat and an adult into the car, ok one of the seats had to be put in via the roof but that’s now a talking point. This is a car that makes you interesting, it shows that your not afraid to drive something different, yes it has only 68bhp but it makes you feel like it’s a sports car and that’s the point; it makes you feel.

Lots of cars make you numb, in time you forget why you bought them, you might even forget what car you drive, but I guarantee you won’t forget the Fiat 500c.

Prices start at €16,195 in the Pop model and €18,145 for the Lounge. The car I drove had these options:

FIAT 500C 1.2 LOUNGE

COLOUR: Funk White Pearlescent

INTERIOR: Red Leather (with matching Red Roof)

OPTIONS:

Pearlescent Paint

Leather Trim

Xenon Headlamps with washers

Vehicle Dynamic Control

Interscope HiFi System

Total cost of Fiat 500C  €22,600

Want to see the smokerspack test in video? Right here

For further details on the Fiat 500 range please see www.fiat.ie or visit your local dealer.

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Here’s the video of the Fiat 500c, we are very proud of this video, yes we’re getting better….enjoy!


Every year that great golden orb in the sky that we call the Sun comes out to play, the days get longer, the temperature goes up, the clothing comes off and summer is announced. Will Smith comes on the radio to lull you into believing its “summer, Summer, Summer time”. Everyone’s need for outdoor activities increases, dogs get to crap further away from home, young kids leave their avatar in the bedroom and come blinking into the sunlight asking “what is it Mammy?” and the answer is “Get out and play!”

It’s also the time of year when you might think of getting a tin opener to the roof of your car so you can catch some more sunshine while you drive, well you don’t have to. There is a huge selection of convertibles out there to choose from; almost every manufacturer makes a convertible version of one car or another. But today, on this bright sunny day my local friendly dealer had a Renault Megane CC out front so I just had to have a go.

It’s not that long ago a convertible had to be a sports car; most of them had two seats, totally impractical and very expensive. They were the kind of car you only saw on the TV; the driver had to have a flat cap and tweed jacket. Leaky roof’s, rain and people shredding the vinyl on the way home from the pub were just a few of the problems. Renault set to change that with the Megane CC, it was among the first to get a folding hard top roof, this was set to be the best of both worlds, a hard top car for winter that opens up for the summer. This was to be an affordable 4 seat hard top convertible, ok I know there isn’t exactly 4 seats in the Megane; the two adults in the back would have to have removable legs, nonetheless there are seats in the back that kids could sit in. The Megane CC is one of the prettiest of the convertibles; from the back it’s far nicer than Peugeot’s 307 and equally as nice as the Focus CC. In coupe mode with the roof up it looks like a Megane saloon with a big bottom, it’s a bit longer at the back to accommodate that glass roof and all the machinery required to fold it away. The boot space is only 190ltr with the roof up, and with the roof down it’s all but inaccessible but these cars are made for style not practicality.

Renault promised to improve their fit and finish and that promise holds true for the interior, everything feels solid and the materials used are good quality. There’s a good air conditioning system and that’s very much-needed with the glass roof up on a sunny day. On the road it’s quiet and soft over the bumps, at cruising speed there’s very little wind noise and Renault have done a good job keeping the engine noise down, even out on the motorway. Back in the town, where this car is at home, it was just like a normal Megane, soft over the speed bumps. The 1.6 110bhp engine does a good job tootling around, the rear window is a little small and with the size of the boot it can be a bit of a job to park, enough of this normal car mode it’s time to drop the roof and catch some rays.

In convertible mode the whole feeling of the car changes, you want to drive everywhere at 10kph, there’s a great novelty to being outside while driving a car. The driving dynamic changes too, the rear of the car feels heavier and there’s a little scuttle shake when you corner. At town speeds with all the windows down the breeze is light, but once you pick up a little speed you need to put the windows up or risk having your hair torn off. Obviously with the roof down parking is a doddle, putting the roof up in a public place never fails to attract a crowd. There’s some admiring looks when you drive around with it down too. All convertibles have something cool about them, even if it is a Renault. There are some flaws, namely the tiny boot, small back seat and poor visibility out the back with the roof up. But these pale into insignificance when the sun shines, the roof comes down, Will Smith sings and the sky becomes the limit of your head room, it’s fantastic.

The car I drove is available from Portlaoise Kia garage, you can see it on Carzone, have a drive on a sunny day, you’ll see what I mean.