New Fiat convertible fits California weather


Fiat's return to America this year, with the tiny 500, already pegged the "cute" meter, as well as the fun meter. Now the car is getting cuter and more fun thanks to a new convertible version called the Cabrio.

The attributes of the 500 Coupe are still there: modern styling and reasonable fuel economy from the small four-cylinder engine.

This example also has the automatic transmission, which works very well if you don't feel like dealing with a five-speed stick.

Like the coupe, the Cabrio comes in different trim levels at different prices. The base model is called "Pop," at $19,500, and a "Lounge" edition with more features like the automatic transmission has a base price of $23,500.

And like the coupe, there are some downsides. While the front seats are plenty roomy even for tall people, the back seat is miniscule.

And though the engine feels peppy overall, its 101 horsepower can make steep hills and freeway merging a bit of a challenge at times.

It's not a true convertible where the entire roof folds away; just the center section. But that's actually an advantage in a car like the 500. First of all, you don't have as much of a fabric roof to take up valuable trunk space. Secondly, the side rails stay in place. That keeps the body stiff, and you're less likely to get rattles.

And there's one more benefit: You can open or close the power-operated roof at speed if your mood or the weather changes while you're on the fly.

The folding roof can also be partially opened to act like a sunroof if you only want a bit of the weather to come in.

With the roof closed, you'd almost think you were in a coupe. Very cozy.

There will be other versions of the Fiat 500 coming along soon. But for now, the Cabrio gets to take the title of most cute, and most fun.

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