- ROAD TEST – FIAT 500L
ODDBALL, quirky designs have served Fiat pretty well over the years.
The Multipla was the weirdest looking thing with a face like one of the Mutant Ninja Turtles, yet people loved the three across the front seating layout.
Now, with a philosophy along the same lines as MINI with its variations on a theme, the Italian brand has expanded its Fiat 500 range.
The 500L, which stands for Large, is one of those cars you either love or loathe. I expected to be in the latter camp, but actually think it’s brilliant.
Trendy young families are the target for a car that brings an instant feelgood factor thanks to a vast double glass sunroof and big windows to really let the light in.
And some extra outlay brings in stuff like Fiat’s eco:Drive Live system, a powerful ‘Beats by Dr Dre’ audio and a Lavazza on-board espresso coffee maker.
Basically the 500L is a neat mini-MPV with plenty of space for five and its raised seating position is even higher in the back, where there are flip-down tables on the front seat backs.
Also useful is a Fold & Tumble function which makes for a completely flat floor in the rear with one simple action.
All versions come with a choice of body colour, white or black roof, and the option of silver, white or black alloy wheels, meaning customisation opportunities are huge.
In fact there are more than 300 colour combinations, 1,500 interior configurations and 22 storage compartments – including stuff like an upper and lower glovebox with shelf in-between and a split level boot.
Of a four-strong engine range – two petrol, two diesel – the higher powered of the diesels, the 1.6-litre MultiJet with 105bhp, is both strong and good for around 60mph.
It also means you get Start & Stop, Hill Holder to stop the car sliding back and a six-speed manual gearbox.
Mindful of its audience, Fiat has kicked off the line-up with two trim levels – Pop Star and Easy – which cost the same but have different features.
So the Pop Star has stuff like a body-coloured dashboard, alloy wheels and side door mouldings to appeal to a younger audience, while Easy gets rear parking sensors, a soft-touch dashboard and electric rear windows to attract drivers favouring greater comfort.
Go for the flagship Lounge grade and there’s plenty more, while every car has a five-inch touchscreen radio, Bluetooth, six airbags, ESP stability programme and cruise control.
Prices are from £14,990 for a 1.4-litre petrol Pop Star or Easy model.
Official website: http://www.fiat.co.uk/uk/fiat-500l/world