What's the best electric car for enjoying the summer? | Top Gear
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What's the best electric car for enjoying the summer?

There are few good options when it comes to electric convertibles, but you can enjoy the good life in the Fiat 500C

If there’s one thing that foreigners can’t get their heads around when it comes to the British, it’s our relationship with the weather. We talk almost exclusively about it, which indicates an unhealthy level of obsession. We spend perhaps two-thirds of the year trudging through the cold and wet looking forward to warm days and sunshine, and as soon as they appear we complain about the heat and the relentless glare non-stop. 

There’s that cliché that Eskimos have 50 words for snow, but Brits must have twice as many for rain, whether it’s drizzly, mizzly, spitting, bucketing, tipping it or merely nice weather for ducks. It’s a social art form. 

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Small wonder then that the convertible has never really taken off in a big way over here, save for a few hardy souls. And even then, how many convertibles do you see driving with the roof up even on a gloriously bright day? It’s almost tempting fate to enjoy the weather, you see. 

What would work really well is a sort of halfway house, a car with the structural integrity of a metal-roofed number, but it can splay open to the elements. If we then decided that we wanted to go electric at the same time then there are really only two options to go for. Well, there are currently literally only the two options – it’s between the Smart EQ Fortwo Cabrio and the Fiat 500C

The Smart rules itself out by virtue of its meagre range, although on the plus side you’ll run out of juice before the weather changes. No, save for heading to Italy and getting yourself a chopped up Tesla from those clever coachbuilders at Ares Design, the Fiat 500C and its fabric roof is the only show in town this summer. How can it be that folks who appreciate a bit of vitamin D can have been left so much out of the loop in the electric revolution? Perhaps they’re just more likely to walk instead of drive. 

Fiat 500C with its roof openFiat 500C with its roof closed

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The convertible version of Italy’s delightful little electric 500 starts at a mildly eye watering £29,145 for the Passion spec model, rising up to £32,995 for the top spec La Prima version of the car with all its bells and whistles. None of which are actual bells and whistles, mind, you’d have to buy those separately. 

The 500C gets a sizeable 42kWh battery that offers a 186-mile range – more than twice what you would need to get from the town of Lichfield in Staffordshire across the 84 miles to the seaside that the town claims makes it the furthest point in the UK from the coast. And back, of course. 

Even in that entry level Passion model you get a decent amount of equipment – auto aircon, wireless CarPlay/Android Auto, keyless go and rear parking sensors – and the higher spec versions of the electric 500 (which includes all of the convertible versions) can also be quick charged at 85kW. 

Now admittedly the roof does take up to 25 seconds to close, but you can do this at speeds up to 62mph. Indeed, you could accelerate from 0–62mph and slow down again at least twice while the roof closes. But at any rate it’s not like a normal convertible where you can only put the roof back up at walking speeds. All the better to enjoy that last glimpse of sunshine as the raindrops start spattering across the eco-friendly seat fabrics.

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Best EV for enjoying the summer – Fiat 500C
Price: £29,145
Range: Up to 199 miles
Engine: 118bhp e-motor
Battery: 42kWh
Top speed: 93mph
0–62mph: 9.0secs
Boot space: 185 litres 
Average annual sunshine hours in the UK: 1,400

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