Feeling Very European In The Fiat 500L

Fiat 500L
Fiat 500L

The Fiat 500L is Fiat’s five seat MPV that promises to deliver the style of the Fiat 500 city car and the space and versatility of an MPV. It might not be an obvious choice for a young driver but if as part of your lifestyle you often or occasionally need lots of space to carry people, IKEA flat packs or stuff for hobbies (you know adventure sports and that sort of thing), then trust me, the Fiat 500L is worthy of consideration. Here’s why.

Design

If you like to be different you will love the Fiat 500L. It’s got a real continental European feel to it and it’s so stylish with curvaceous looks and those big, distinctive round headlamps at the front. It’s a car that really stands out on the road. Add into the mix lots of options for customisation, from changing the roof colour to a choice of cool alloy wheels, and you have an MPV that looks like no other.

Fiat 500L
Fiat 500L

The interior is modern and has an attractive finish to it, like the large chunky dials on the well laid out dash to the suede trim on the seats in my Lounge model. You sit high up behind what seems like acres of glass. It’s bright, spacious and you will feel happy just sitting in here. There are large door pockets and lots of little storage places throughout the cabin (22 according to Fiat!).

The rear seats have a fold and tumble function that helps to increase cargo space, and the rear seats can also be slid backwards and forwards.  The boot is large and square with a 400 litre capacity and a wide opening that makes it easy to get things in and out. A space saver spare wheel is included. There is further flexibility in how you would like to use the space in the boot – you can change the level of the floor so that in effect you have two separate storage compartments.

Driving

Fiat 500L
The Fiat 500L has a bright, spacious and modern interior.

It’s a comfy car and good for long trips. It handles well for a tall MPV if a tiny bit roly poly in the corners. It’s compact enough to make it fun to drive around town and the great visibility all-round is a bonus. There is also a button on the dash that you can press to lighten the steering. This is a brilliant addition and the extra lucidity in the steering makes parking and driving around town easy.

The test car was fitted with a 1.3 litre diesel engine. It’s underpowered and you find yourself scrambling around the gearbox looking for the power a lot out on the open road. It’s fine for sedate drivers and once you get it up to cruising speeds it is quiet and refined – but put your foot down hard to take off and it is quite noisy. The other engine options are a 1.6 litre 105bhp diesel and the 0.9 litre 105bhp TwinAir petrol.

Economy

Though not the fastest or most refined, the 1.3 litre engine does offer good economy with an official economy figure of 67mpg. The engine is also fitted with fuel saving start stop technology as standard. It emits 110g/km of CO2 and will cost €190 to tax in Ireland.

Equipment

Standard equipment is very good on the Fiat 500L. There are two trim levels – Pop Star and Lounge. On the Pop Star model you get air conditioning, alloy wheels, touchscreen with Bluetooth, six airbags, electric front windows and door mirrors, cruise control, remote central locking, and steering wheel mounted audio controls.

Fiat 500L
Lavazza coffee maker!

Lounge trim adds a wonderful full length fixed glass roof, rear armrest, fog lights, automatic lights with rain sensors, electric rear windows, rear parking sensors and dualzone climate control. You can spec your 500L with a Lavazza coffee maker built into it for that morning pick-me-up or a Beats by Dr Dre in-car sound system for audiophiles!

Verdict

The Fiat 500L will make you smile. For a fun, quirky MPV with lots of space and versatility for all kinds of cargo, the Fiat 500L delivers. It’s got real Italian style and can be specced in a variety of ways to suit the owner’s tastes. It has a lovely bright and spacious interior and comes with lots of equipment as standard.  The Fiat 500L is let down by a narrow choice of engines and the cheap and economical option of the 1.3 litre diesel engine lacks power and refinement.

Model tested: Fiat 500L Lounge
Price: €24,075 (Range starts at €21,750)
Engine: 1.3 litre MultiJet, four cylinder turbo diesel
Power: 85bhp
0-100km/h:  14.9 seconds
Economy: 67.2mpg (4.2l/100km)
CO2 emissions:  110g/km
Tax band: A3 (€190 per year)

Caroline Kidd

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