The 500L still retains the style and design that Fiat’s 500 is famous for, but with a few tweaks here and there it manages to put its own stamp on the iconic model. Standard features include cruise control, MP3 connectivity, a Bluetooth system, and Dualdrive PAS. Talk to us today about our Fiat 500L contract hire and car leasing options. We’ll see you right.
And, perhaps best of all, allowing for individual personalisation through an option list clever and extensive enough to set new benchmarks for the class.
Fiat always felt that this should be merely the starting rung on an ownership ladder designed to be fine for families as well as fashion-conscious urbanistas. A ladder encompassing seven seats and SUVs as well as the model we’re going to look at here, the spacious 500L. The signs are good. This model claims to be the most space-efficient design in the compact MPV segment, bespokable with the widest and cleverest range of unique accessories. A compact people carrier, in other words, that you can be passionately practical about. In a Fiat designed to bring a welcome dash of fashion to family motoring.
Potential 500L owners will come to this Fiat knowing it to be a more grown-up car than its citycar stablemate. They’ll know that it won’t be quite the same to drive. Little of the responsive, terrier-like handling that marks out a standard little 500 has made it here. Having said that, by the more modest dynamic standards of the small people carrying sector, this Italian entry is an enjoyable enough thing to punt around and what it lacks in agility, it makes up for with more mature virtues.
The ride’s a lot better for a start, still on the firm side for an MPV but smooth enough through city potholes. It’s quieter too. And this car’s much easier to see out of thanks to the higher seating position, the much greater glass area and something that you’ll really appreciate at junctions, a clever A-pillar/front quarterlight design offering the same kind of curved windscreen look that characterised this car’s spiritual predecessor, the Multipla model of the 1950s. It all adds to an urban confidence encouraged by the light lock-to-lock steering. A car you might enjoy on the school run.
If not quite so much pushing on beyond the city limits. Here, you might wish that the steering offered you a little more feedback. This is one of the more dynamically able five-seat mini-MPVs on the market, with well controlled bodyroll and a range of willing, torquey engines. Well, most of them are willing and torquey anyway.
You tend to approach this 500L expecting it to be a pumped-up version of the 500 citycar – which of course it isn’t. To make this model as big as it needed to be - fully 60cm longer and 18cm taller than an ordinary 500, so in Fiat terms, longer than a Punto supermini and as wide as a Bravo family hatch – Andreas Wuppinger’s styling team had to use a Punto floorplan as the basis for something quite different. Then give the end result a recognisable ‘500’-style twist, hence the familiar wide-eyed front end.
The wraparound windscreen is designed to give almost 360-degree vision. Instead of the usual two front A-pillars, here we have four, giving a wrap-around effect that not only looks good but also improves front visibility and crash protection.
This improved model has been lightly re-styled and now features LED daytime running lights. Plus the revised front bumper and a chromed-studded three-dimensional lower grille mesh now give the car a more elegant look.
Inside, the instrument binnacle you view through the re-styled steering wheel has been re-designed too. As before, this is one of the most practical models in the compact MPV class. Three adults can comfortably sit on the back seat, plus standard models have a 455-litre boot. There's also a 'Wagon' variant with a third seating row if you need it.
This Fiat 500L is refreshingly different indeed. It’s certainly different from the 500 citycar we all know – but then of course, to suit the intended family role, it had to be. Not everyone will like the styling approach necessary to achieve this but it’s surely one that sets it apart from rivals. A unique look, just as every 500 should have.
Fun, cheeky and cool, this Fiat claims to suit the sort of people looking for a car to be an extension of their personality, a car that reflects their passion for life. I’m not sure if any compact people carrier can really do all that but of all those available, there’s little doubt that this 500L is the one that gets closest to hitting the mark. To being a sensible family car you can really feel good about.