FIAT HAS ANNOUNCED that the convertible version of its ever-so-fashionable 500 will be landing on Australian shores in January, roughly six months after its European sales debut.
Named the 500 C and known affectionately as the "Bambino Topolino", the 2010 Fiat 500 C will start at $28,990, making it the most affordable open-top four-seater available in Australia.
Despite the January sale date, high demand for the 500 and the 500 C in Europe has motivated Fiat to begin taking orders now for what it anticipates will be a limited supply.
?The interest in the open top Fiat 500 C has already proven as strong as it has been for the normal Fiat 500,? Andrei Zaitzev, General Manager for Fiat in Australia said.
?So we have opened up the order books now, so everyone who wants to be seen in the chicest car this summer can be ready to take their top off the moment summer arrives!?
The 2010 Fiat 500 C is available with two trim levels, both powered by a 1.4 litre four-cylinder petrol engine developing 74kW and 131Nm of torque.
Two transmissions are on offer, the first being a five-speed manual and the second, starting at $30,990, being the DuaLogic automatic transmission.
The 500 C will accelerate to 100km/h in 10.5 seconds, and fuel economy is rated at 6.3 l/100km.
But for many buyers it won't be the engine line-up or economy rating that will be the 500 C's real drawcard. It's all about looks, and in that department the diminutive Fiat ragtop doesn't disappoint.
"The Fiat 500 C is not merely the open version of the 500," Roberto Giolito, Fiat & Abarth Style Director, said of the 500 C.
"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."
Mimicking the style of its 1950s predecessor, the 2010 Fiat 500 C's fabric roof folds all the way to the top of the rear hatch, with the sides of the car remaining fixed.
The retro-correct design may lack the open-air feel of a full convertible, but Fiat points out that it reduces buffeting and wind noise perfectly.
The electrically-operated soft top is controlled either by buttons next to the interior roof light, or from the car's remote control unit - giving owners the ability to lower the roof without actually being in the car.
The roof can be opened or closed while the car is moving at speeds up to 60km/h.
Available in three colours (ivory, red and black) the soft top is colour coordinated with the car's paintwork.
The interior is available in either fabric or leather, and boasts such modern amenities as an optional sat-nav system and automatic climate control.
Lashings of chrome feature on the 500 C, including chrome trim on the side windows, exhaust tail pipe, the interior door handle inserts, gear lever and the front and rear bumpers.
Standard equipment includes automatic climate control, ESP, fog lights and parking sensors.
Seven airbags are offered as standard equipment (two front, two window, two side and one knee bag), making the 500 C one of the best options in its segment for passive safety features.
The unique to the 500C alloy wheels with 185/55 R16 tyres, and electric wing mirrors painted to match the body also come as standard.
The Fiat 500 C features ABS anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD), electronic stability program (ESP), anti-slip regulation (ASR), a Hill Holder system ? which helps the driver with hill starts ? and hydraulic brake assistance (HBA) to help with emergency stops.
Blue&Me, with its eco:Drive programme, enables the 500C to teach its owner to drive more economically.