Building on the back of the success of the Fiat 500 city car, Fiat have built a range of new practical alternatives broadening its range and appeal. It may lack the charm of the smaller car on which it is based but it is well laid out and a comfortable drive.
The Fiat 500L comes with the choice of one petrol and two diesel options. The petrol option is a 1.4 litre with 95bhp mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox. Diesel options include a 1.3 litre Multi-jet with 95bhp mated to a choice of a 6-speed manual or automatic MTA transmission. The second is a 1.6 Multi-jet II with 120bhp mated to a 6-speed manual which packs just the right amount of oomph when an MPV like the 500L is full to capacity with passengers and luggage. The 1.3 litre Multi-jet with 95bhp is likely to be the best combination of performance and economy.
While the ride in the Fiat 500L overall is very comfortable, don’t be expecting great things if you fancy driving it like a boy racer. Its soft ride means there is quite a lot of body roll in corners. The steering is quite light too meaning there is not a huge amount of feedback. But the 500L is a family MPV and it’s not designed to be driven like this, so it’s easily forgiven. The driving position is quite elevated, but comfortable and if you go for the 1.6 Multi-jet II with 120bhp, you can squeeze as much fun out of it as possible.
The 500L comes in three trim levels Pop, Popstar and Lounge. Like its 500 city car sibling, the 500L is customisable with a huge range of contrast interior and body colour exteriors which all look great. Standard kit includes air conditioning, specific side mouldings and chrome inserts, cruise control, leather gear knob, 5 inch touchscreen radio with Bluetooth, magic cargo seats, but no alloy wheels. Moving up to Popstar adds 16 inch alloy wheels while Lounge adds a glass roof, folding tables on back of front seats and half leather interior.
There is no doubting the quality of the Fiat 500L’s interior. It looks great and feels solid to the touch. There is an obvious use of quality materials throughout and its colour choices for both the interior and exterior make it more fun and appealing. Fiat’s familiar uConnect 5 inch touch screen and infotainment system sits front and centre at the top of the console. This is a simple and very user friendly system ready for smartphone connectivity. With the exception of this system, the rest of the switchgear throughout the cabin is chunky, but solid and easy to operate.
The Fiat 500L is quite a big car with passenger comfort and safety at the core of its design. You will be happy to know it received full marks and a 5 star Euro NCAP rating during crash testing. It also gets a decent level of safety equipment as standard. These include a full set of airbags including new window airbags designed especially for the 500L, electronic stability control and hill assist. You can also spec a low speed collision warning system for a nominal figure.
The increased ride height and huge amount of visibility in the 500L make it a very easy car to drive and manoeuvre. It feels massively spacious from the moment you jump into the cabin and there is more than enough room for five adults to travel comfortably for extended journeys. The MPW improves this further with space for two children in the two added sets at the back. Boot space in the 500L is a healthy 400 litres (638 in the MPW. This is reduced to 168 litres with all seven seats in place) and the rear seats also fold completely flat creating a cavern of space for items over two metres long if required.