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Fiat 500L: Test Drive Review

Date: 09 April 2013   |   Author: Jack Carfrae

Category: Mini-MPV
P11D price: £17,490
Key rival: Mini Countryman
On sale: March 2013

The standard 500 has been a phenomenal success for Fiat, so much so that the company has branched out into mini-MPVs with a taller and more spacious variant.

Sporting love-it-or-loathe-it styling, the 500L (the 'L' stands for 'Large') is primed to keep those fond of the existing 500 coming back to the brand, specifically those who have had children and need the extra practicality. The 400-litre boot, taller but compact proportions (it's only 80mm longer than the Punto supermini) and a plethora of storage spots (there are 22 in total) make it all the more useful.

Its size and shape drop it firmly into Ford B-max territory and, although it's more expensive, the Mini Countryman's styling and customisation options mean it's a close competitor for the Fiat.

Personalisation is a big thing for the 500L too. Features such as the optional on-board coffee maker sum up the kind of retail-orientated audience the company is gunning for. Even so, fleet sales are still expected to make up around 40% of the mix, with or without espresso machines.

A pair of petrol engines are available - a 95hp 1.4 and Fiat's innovative 105hp two-cylinder 0.9-litre unit - along with two Multijet diesels: the familiar 1.3 with 85hp and a new 105hp 1.6. The conventional 1.4 petrol is expected be the biggest seller, while the cleanest of the range at 105g/km is the 1.3 diesel in automatic guise.

The 1.6 diesel tested here, which emits 117g/km, is the fastest of the range with a 0-62mph time of 11.3 seconds. It's nowhere near as much fun to drive as the Mini or the Ford, but it's reasonably comfortable and refinement is acceptable. The engine has sufficient power for the job but we suspect the smaller units may struggle with the larger car's extra weight.

As with the standard car, the bulk of the 500L's appeal lies in its bijou styling as well as its options, which have proved popular with past customers. The high seating position - front and rear - certainly marks a step up in terms of practicality compared with its smaller brethren and it is easy to get in and out of. However, it doesn't move the game along in the same way that Ford did with the B-max's sliding doors, and the lack of headroom in the back could be an issue for the Motability market in which it is likely to compete. 

Fiat 500L 1.6 Multijet 105 Pop Star
P11D price £17,490
Model price range £14,990-£18,890
Fuel consumption 62.8mpg
Warranty 3yrs/60,000 mls
Boot space 400/N/A litres
Engine size/power 1598cc 105hp
Top speed/0-62mph 112mph/11.3secs
On sale March 2012


Similar cutesy appeal to the standard 500 but more practical