LOOKING at the hunky Fiat 500L Trekking, it is difficult to imagine that it bears any relationship whatsoever to the boutique styled 500 city car.
At the most it looks a bit like a 500 that has been on an intensive course of steroids and has the stance of a feisty number that is ready for action.
It is based on the 500L Crossover's ‘space efficiency' ethos with its segment-topping running costs, performance, versatility and visibility and is designed to be as at home in the great outdoors as it is on congested city streets.
It has a distinctively rugged look with a raised ride height and M+S (Mud&Snow) all-season tyres, plus Fiat's clever Traction+ system.
With protective underbody shields and new diamond-finished alloy wheels, the 500L Trekking gives a sportier, more dynamic twist to the 500L concept without compromising its class-leading interior space and functionality.
Part of the package are a host of large car features such as cruise control, the five-inch Uconnect touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth, air conditioning and six airbags.
Just like the 500L, the Trekking can seat five in comfort, with sufficient luggage space in its 400-litre boot to take five suitcases.
It feels spacious inside thanks to the extensive glazing and windscreen pillars that have been split and tapered to give almost 360-degree vision.
This, along with a suite of standard safety features, has already made the 500L a EuroNCAP five-star crash safety award winner.
It becomes the first Fiat to feature City Brake Control as standard. This system has been designed to watch over the driver and either prevent or lessen damage in low-speed collisions.
The Trekking's Traction+ is an an electronic system that controls the braking circuit to simulate the behaviour of a self-locking electromechanical differential. This means the front-wheel drive Fiat can tackle the sort of tricky terrain that other two-wheel drive cars would struggle on.
Under the bonnet was a 1.6 MultiJet diesel of 105bhp output and linked to a six-speed manual transmission and it tips the price scales at £19,590.
It is available in a total of 17 colour combinations, with a choice of six finishes inside.
Hardly what you would call a dedicated off road but a compact and capable family activity vehicle with a great deal of ability.
It joins the increasing ranks of what are commonly known as soft roaders, vehicles which have the look of a 4x4 but usually higher ability than your standard hatchback.
Full marks to Fiat for a vastly better standard of build andfinish when compared to cars of a decade or so ago.