Fiat 500C Vs Mini Cooper Convertible Vs Peugeot 207CC

With its catwalk good looks, Fiat’s 500C is the coolest new drop-top in showrooms this summer. But is it the best? We rate it against key MINI and Peugeot rivals...

It’s August, so thousands of people are flocking to Italy for their annual summer holiday. But you don’t have to go that far to experience the new 500C.

Such is our love of open-topped motoring that UK dealers are the first in Europe to get their hands on the fashionable Fiat. Taking inspiration from the 1957 original, the modern recreation has a similar sliding fabric roof design. And with four seats, a decent-sized boot and the same blend of cheeky retro appeal as the hatch, it aims be the best small drop-top money can buy. But to take that title, it has to defeat the MINI Convertible.

The latest second-generation model has been on UK roads since the spring, and although it’s more expensive than the Fiat, its fully folding roof arguably makes it the purer cabriolet.

However, both newcomers need to take on the car that, along with its 206 CC predecessor, has consistently been one of Britain’s best-selling small cabrios. Peugeot’s folding hard-top 207 CC simply can’t be ignored.

Read on to find out which of this trio deserves to be 2009’s hot destination.

Verdict

Making a small car into a great convertible is a difficult task. The tight dimensions mean it’s hard to package the roof, passengers and luggage, while the need for the end result to be affordable means engineers have a tight budget to work with. So, which one of our trio strikes the right balance between all these demands?

It’s not the 207 CC. Although Peugeot’s big seller is still the best coupé-cabriolet in this price range, its rear seats are too small and its body simply not rigid enough. The car is fun to drive, yet finishes third here.

That leaves the Fiat and MINI to fight for top honours.

The 500C has all the charm and ease of use that made the hatch version our favourite city car.

It’s also cheaper than the Cooper Convertible and well equipped.

It has the best rear seats and a decent boot, too, but with its roll-back fabric roof and fixed side beams it just doesn’t feel like a real convertible.

It can’t match the MINI’s driver appeal or interior quality, either. With fixed-price servicing, low emissions and great residuals, the British car is brilliant to own – and that’s why it’s a thoroughly deserved winner in this test.
 

* 1ST: MINI Cooper Convertible

Entertaining to drive and very well engineered, the MINI is just as desirable as a cabriolet as it is in tin-top guise. The fabric roof is well designed and the quality of the interior first class. Plus, while the luggage area is small, folding rear seats enhance practicality.
 

* 2nd: Fiat 500C 1.4 Lounge

By mimicking the roll-back-style roof of the Fifties original, the 500C manages to provide a roomy cabin and decent-sized boot considering its dimensions. It drives like the hatch, too, and in this company it carries a very competitive price tag.
 

* 3rd: Peugeot 207 CC

For some buyers, the metal roof will hand the 207 the advantage. But we think its two-piece design compromises the styling and the space inside. Plus, the tiny rear seats can’t be used by adults, so the Lion is the least practical car.

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