Fiat’s 500 has been a sales success in Europe but has battled to make real inroads here, at least until now. This has largely been due to the Italian baby bug being available only in its rather expensive full-spec high-powered form. Recently Fiat took steps to rectify this with entry-level 1,2-litre versions selling in the much more realistic R135 000 region. Top of the range is the new Cabrio, combining all the style worthy of an Italian brand with healthy 1,4-litre performance. Top speed for the base model 1,2 is a respectable 160, while the Cabriolet tops out at 185. The canvas roof tucks away to reveal a metal framework housing the side windows; just the way the original did in 1957 or so, when this was Turin’s answer to the VW Beetle.
Text by Stuart Johnston