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John Steel, 42. Resident Nurburgring hotlapper, amateur race driver and menace of all slow moving objects. On weekends, he likes thrashing his Porsche 997 Mark II GT3-RS around the local track. Karen Levy, 25. Professional mall stormer, party queen and dedicated student. Enjoys a fine café-latte by the Mediterranean Sea and the gentle spring breeze while driving her Fiat 500C.

Two people, two separate sides of the automotive equilibrium. This time, driving around the peaceful and slow moving streets of southern Tel Aviv, amongst buzzing restaurants and overcrowded coffee shops, I get to explore the latter. Meet the Fiat 500C: the open-air sibling of the 500 retro car, and an inevitable win of form over function.

As you’ve probably guessed by now, the ‘C’ in this Italian mini car’s name stands for convertible – only the 500C doesn’t really convert into anything. Taking the recipe of the original 500, Fiat’s ever-quirky engineers left the roof structure entirely solid, with a sliding fabric roof replacing the conventional steel – essentially a very large sunroof. This unconventional setup allows for a greater structural integrity than a traditional convertible, improves safety (all 7 airbags are left intact) and benefits practicality (since the roof doesn’t have to be stored in the trunk). But the real reason this setup was chosen is also the original sibling’s raison d’etre: affordability. Does it all work out in the real world? Let’s see.

More: Review: Fiat 500C
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