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Fiat 500 C and Smart Fortwo Cabrio in a test duel

Achim Hartmann
Smart Fortwo Cabrio vs. Fiat 500 in the test duel
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For Dante Giacosa , the great Fiat technicians and designers of the post-war era , it was just a question of reason: 'When modeling the Nuova 5 00 it was a matter of reducing the sheet metal surface to a minimum in order to save weight and costs.” That was how easy it was for the three-meter-dwarf 1957 to its thin roll-up roof, which brought a touch of summer and sun even to the far north.

The Fiat 500 C is 2,800 euros more expensive than the welded version

Now the sheet metal shell is also falling off the iconic retro successor from 2007, yes it has nothing to do with thrift. On the contrary: the two-layer fabric hood makes the Fiat 500 C (for the Fiat 500 C's driving report) around 40 kilograms heavier and, above all, 2,800 euros more expensive than the welded-on variant. In keeping with the original style, it is a convertible sedan, where the stiffening frame stops when the textile sheet moves backwards.

With its removable roof struts, the approximately equally expensive Smart Fortwo Better to call it a convertible, although here, too, a bracket behind the seats diminishes the unobstructed view and the feeling of being open to driving. But as with the four-seater Fiat the first stiff breeze blows all the everyday stuff away - you feel light and carefree, the world is open to you, everything is possible. Then even the long surcharge lists for chic accessories and decors that turn the two small cars into real designer items are forgotten.

With the roof open, the luggage compartment of the Fiat 500 C is only three liters smaller

In contrast to the inherently poorly equipped Fortwo dominates the Fiat 500 C already in series trim the high art of seduction, arouses sympathy and nostalgic feelings with its spherical shape. The convertible top can also be ordered in classic red or ivory to match the red and white interior, just if you want to do some manual workis still waiting for its renaissance. But the electric actuation at the push of a button up to 60 km /h allows you to savor every ray of sunshine and to dose the fresh air supply from mild to wild. In the Fiat 500 C, however, it gets quite loud with the hatch open above the front seats, and the throbbing in the ears only subsides when the roof and the heated glass rear window are completely folded up on the rear. There it hampers the rear view, but hardly the airflow or the luggage compartment, which is only three liters smaller than the tin roof 500. And so that the open tarpaulin does not block access, it automatically moves up a little when the trunk lid is unlocked.

The roof bars of the Smart Fortwo Cabrio can be stowed in the tailgate

The Smart Fortwo Cabrio, however, reveals its finesse with less turbulence and wind noise as well side roof bars that can be easily removed and stowed in the tailgate. This brings more light and air into the cockpit, but prevents the convertible top from closing quickly in the event of sudden rain showers because its guide rails are then missing. When all hatches are tight, the noise level in both cars is only slightly higher than in their tin roof counterparts. Which does not necessarily mean a school leaving certificate for the great journey, because apart from their additional talent, both have remained real small cars with mixed talents. Curiously, the Smart with its rear engine, small dimensions and pronounced maneuverability is technically closer to the original 500 than the new Fiat 500, which represents the modern mini school with front-wheel drive, transverse engine and 3.55 meters in length. The consequent brevity and two-seater capacity bring the Smart Fortwo Cabrio advantages in narrow cities and alleys, but cost not only interior and trunk space, but above all comfort.

Smart Fortwo Cabrio: ESP as standard, power steering only for a surcharge

Because as soon as it goes on country roads or highways, despite the convenient, adult seats blows from the very taut and bumpy suspension - a necessary tribute to the short wheelbase and high center of gravity. That is why ESP is also standard on board - and is often used as soon as the rear-wheel drive car is to swiftly sweep around the corner. He doesn't like that and defends himself with severe understeer and rigorous braking interventions. In addition, the indirect steering (servo only at extra cost), the strong sensitivity to crosswinds and the poor directional stability require increased concentration at the wheel.

The stability program is recommended for the Fiat 500 C

By its very nature, the Fiat 500 C looks much gentler, a bit cloudy and dreamy at all. Only when rough slopes or drivers wake him out of his lethargy does he start to swing hectically and lose his rhythm. Since the callous, from the central positionpoisonous appealing power steering tempts you to overreact, you shouldn't do without the optional stability program (350 euros) despite the basically good-natured driving characteristics. However, the electronics do not change anything in terms of the weak braking delay, especially on road surfaces with different levels of grip.

Fiat 500 C: The test consumption was 7.2 L /100 km

It's good that neither the handling nor the engines are too Animate outbursts of temper. After all, the 1.2-liter four-cylinder in the 500-Bug also belongs to the tame acoustically, and thanks to its short gear ratio, it allows easy swimming in traffic when the easy-to-grip five-speed gearshift is activated. Particular frugality is not one of his virtues - 7.2 liters per 100 kilometers were due in the test agent. The Smart, which is almost 200 kilograms lighter, naturally arouses higher expectations, especially since the small petrol engines have recently brought a start-stop system with them. But the easy-revving, hoarse one-liter three-cylinder often has to make an effort to keep up and make up for the long shift breaks of the automated five-speed transmission.

The Smart Fortwo is not an economical vehicle

So only the minimum consumption (4.7 L /100 km) is close of the standard cycle, the mean value (6.6 liters) is significantly higher. As an economical mobile, the Smart Fortwo would of course be a bad buy because of the hefty prices, while the folding roof makes it a fun mobile, at least when the weather is nice. The fact that the Fiat 500 C usually succeeds better even with the roof closed is perhaps the strongest argument for the little Italian. But the clear lead in almost all chapters shows that he knows how to underpin his sympathy bonus with very pragmatic characteristics that still exist even when the charm of the fleeting has long since passed.

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