This new Mini MPV is all set to become an urban family favourite, reports Edward Stephens.
Fiat’s trendy 500 has struck the right note with British buyers. But for hundreds of potential customers, the little two-door car is just, well, TOO little.
But now the Italian car maker has come to the rescue of the mum and dad who hanker after a 500 but need more space for the family.
The new Fiat 500L has all the style, all the panache of the 500 but in a larger form.
In fact, it’s so cool you can even have a proper espresso coffee machine fully integrated into the dashboard to give you genuine Lavazza coffee.
And while the new car might look like a stretched 500, the L is a totally new model in its own right, designed to provide the space and practicality that it’s little brother can’t.
It might be classed as a mini MPV, but it’s got just the right trendy image to make it appeal to people who want a functional family five-door, five-seater – but one with flair.
And age isn’t really a factor when it comes to buyers. In fact, Fiat says this is a car “for the young and young at heart”.
If you want to personalise it, feel free. You can not only choose the body colour but the roof colour and the dashboard colour as well as adding any of more than 100 accessories – with more to come.
The 500L is available with a choice of four engines – two petrol and two diesel – and three trim levels.
In petrol, you can have a 1.4-litre, 95bhp or the lively turbo-charged 875cc, 105bhp TwinAir. In diesel, there is a choice of a 1.3-litre (85bhp) and 1.6-litre (105bhp) which will average 67mpg and 62mpg respectively.
The trim levels are designed to suite the personalities of prospect buyers. There’s Pop Star – with a vibrant youthful feel; then there’s Easy for owners seeking more comfort and equipment like rear electric windows and parking sensors, and finally the range-topping Lounge, for those looking for the highest spec they can get.
The Pop Star and Easy models both cost the same, with prices from £14,990, while the Lounge will set you back an extra £1,400 but has £2,000 worth of extra equipment including a suede dashboard. Standard equipment on all models is high, however, with all trim levels getting features like cruise control, air conditioning and fully adjustable leather steering wheel with audio controls.
On the practical side, the 500L has a 400-litre boot which, to put it into perspective, is 50-litres more than a Volkswagen Golf. It also has 22 handy compartments to cater everything from a mobile phone to an umbrella.
Best of all the rear seats come with a “Fold&Tumble” function, which allows you to get a completely flat floor in the rear with one simply action. I sampled a car with the 1.6-litre MultiJet 2 diesel engine, which gives 0-62mph acceleration in 11.3 seconds and a top speed of 112mph.
From behind the steering wheel, the 500L offers excellent all-round visibility thanks to the narrow twin windscreen pillars rather than one thick one and the elevated seat position, available because of the high roof.
On the car I drove, that high roof was a huge glass panoramic one, giving the interior a nice bright feel. The 500L has nice chunky feel to it and the ride and handling are good while noise levels are low, giving a refined feel to the car.
Britain is the biggest market for the Fiat 500 outside Italy, and as 2,000 advance orders have already been taken in the UK for the 500L, the same thing could well be said for it’s bigger brother in future.
The 500L goes on sale this Saturday and will be joined by a seven-seater model later in the year.