The tiny Fiat 500 is now a common sight in Vancouver streets since its introduction in 2011 and has been a smash hit for Fiat/Chrysler. The cute, funky two-door is renowned for its great styling, retro charm and spunky handling. However one its drawbacks have been the tiny rear seats and lack of rear headroom due to the small dimensions.
Thankfully this issue has been redressed now that the Fiat 500L is here. The 500L adds an extra set of rear doors and at 27 inches longer, six inches wider, six inches taller offers almost 45 per cent more space than the original 500. The 500L keeps the same unique good looks, but with more practicality and good use of space.
The 500L comes in four trims starting at a very competitive $19,999 for the base Pop version with Sport, Trekking and Lounge version adding more features. The equipment level is very good across the range and even the base model arrives with as standard air conditioning, cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, remote keyless entry, power windows, locks and mirrors, hands-free communication, plus a comprehensive level of safety features including seven airbags, electronic stability control, ABS, hill start assist, brake assist and a tire pressure monitoring system. Options include such items as leather bucket seats, rear park assist, a rear back-up camera, chrome body side moulding, chrome exterior mirrors and four-way power lumbar adjustments. Extra equipment includes: 6-speed Euro twin clutch transmission ($1,450), power sunroof, (Uconnect entertainment system with voice activation, media hub , compact spare tire and 17 inch machined aluminum black pocket wheels.
The 500L is powered by a Fiat derived MultiAir a 1.4-litre, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine that delivers 160 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. This is the same engine as found in the in the high performance Fiat 500 Abarth version. Transmission is via a six-speed manual or six-speed twin-clutch automatic transmission.
The rear bench seat in the 500L now seats three adults in the back with decent enough head- and leg-room. The 60/40 folding rear seats also tilt, tumble and slide for extra comfort and versatility. Also of note, cargo space is much improved over the 500 with a very useful 605 litres of space. Keeping families in mind, a dual-layer rear cargo shelf effectively doubles the amount of luggage space.
On the road, the 500L’s 1.4L “MultiAir” turbo engines 160 horsepower and 184 lb/ft of torque drives well enough. The 6-speed dual-clutch automatic is a smooth transmission although a tad slower to switch gears. The six speed manual or the conventional automatic that will be offered soon might be a better choice if more response is what you really. However acceleration is brisk. The 500L is also; being of European heritage and where fuel is very expensive is quite fuel-efficient – rated at 8.7 litres/100 km in the city and 6.0 on the highway.
The Fiat 500L is mighty impressive and will be a big favorite with Canadian families. If you are looking for a good-looking retro inspired family vehicle with plenty of heritage charm you can’t do any better.
2015 Fiat 500L priced from $19,999 – $25,995 plus options, freight and PDI.