Smart move for

Fiat's capable

crossover

Fiat 500L Cross, 2017, side
Fiat 500L Cross, 2017, front, action
Fiat 500L Cross, 2017, nose
Fiat 500L Cross, 2017, off road, front, action
Fiat 500L Cross, 2017, off road, front
Fiat 500L Cross, 2017, off road
Fiat 500L Cross, 2017, interior
Fiat 500L Cross, 2017, display screen
Fiat 500L Cross, 2017, seats, folded
Fiat 500L Cross, 2017, boot
Fiat 500L Cross, 2017, gear lever
Fiat 500L Cross, 2017, cabin

WHEN Fiat pumped up the 500 it created a family car with a difference.

Now it's update time and come September a new look Fiat 500L will be on the road.

The changes are subtle and mainly cosmetic but have the effect of bringing the diminutive retro-looking 500's bigger brother right up to date.

A new-look to the nose makes the 500L much more similar to the 500 itself while brightwork in the side mouldings and changes at the rear make the body appear lower and wider.

Inside, the cabin has been spruced up and now incorporates a seven-inch central touchscreen with TomTom sat nav and connectivity that's compatible with Apple and Android devices.

From the driver's perspective the steering wheel has been redesigned to incorporate more controls and the gear lever has been repositioned so it's easier to hand.

The trim has also been smartened up with two-tone finishes now available and the instruments are now illuminated in white rather than amber. Ambient lighting has also been added in the door pockets.

All in all it has made the 500La swish proposition in the crossover age and Fiat says it's likely that prices will remain as they are when the new models arrive.

That means the three model range will cost from less than £14,000 with the larger seven-seat derivative priced from just over £19,000.

The more SUV-oriented Trekking version has been renamed the 500L Cross and as well as being differentiated from the rest of the range with more robust styling also features an electronic traction system to give added grip over rough conditions.

Ride height is an inch more than the standard 500L and as a soft-roader it is surprisingly capable, looking the part with extra body mouldings, skid plates front and rear and a tough appearance at the front.

We've just sampled the new look 500L Cross 1.6 MultiJet diesel which is currently priced from £20,965. It's also available with a 1.3-litre diesel for £1,000 less.

On the performance front nothing has changed and the 120bhp diesel gives it a 0 to 60 acceleration time of 11.5 seconds, a top speed of 114mph and an official fuel return of 65.7mpg with emissions of 114g/km.

The changes to the layout of the controls have made it easy going from a driver's point of view and the 500L Cross makes a good job of handling everyday conditions. Our drive in and around Fiat's home town of Turin in Italy took in some rocky off-road tracks as well as urban and motorway driving and that was reflected in an overall average of 35.3mpg.

Where all versions of the 500L score is with their family-friendly approach and the car is not only roomy all round but also nicely comfortable with above average head and leg room front and back. That's helped by sliding rear seats.

There's plenty of onboard storage and the Cross comes with fold-down picnic tables in the rear as well as mesh pockets on the back of the front seats. All versions of the 500L have double gloveboxes, one of them cooled and a handy shelf on the dash.

Boot space ranges from a useful 455 litres to 1,480 with the rear seats folded - and that's with a spacesaver spare wheel fitted - which makes the vehicle very practical.

As a family all rounder the 500L Cross is up with the best and with its new looks has a lot of street appeal.

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