Fiat adds a little

style to larger 500L

Fiat 500L, front action
Fiat 500L, side action
Fiat 500L, front static
Fiat 500L, front action 2
Fiat 500L, side static
Fiat 500L, rear action
Fiat 500L, rear static
Fiat 500L, rear seats
Fiat 500L, dash detail
Fiat 500L, dashboard
Fiat 500L, seat detail
Fiat 500L, boot

FIAT has reinvented the wheel with its updated 500L range, refreshed with added features and a stronger likeness to the tiddler that started it all.

The chic little Fiat 500 has been won the hearts of millions of owners around the world, so it was no surprise when Fiat tried to ape its style in the larger 500L in 2012.

With four doors (even the chance of a third row of seats in one version), the 500L was targeted at people who loved their little 500 but were perhaps starting a family and needed more space.

To some eyes the result was less than an aesthetic triumph, looking a bit frumpish and a long way from the role of snappy urban runaround eagerly adopted by its smaller sibling.

Well, the refresh of the 500L helps a bit on the looks front, with a new nose moving it closer to the 500 in a relaunch that Fiat says means 40 per cent of all its components are new.

Apart from the new looks, more practical changes include a gearlever placed higher up, a handbrake changed from annoying flat grab panel to conventional lever and a reinvented steering wheel with smaller centre for an improved view of the instruments.

Those instruments now sit in a new-look dashboard that includes a colour digital display and there are larger storage compartments in an interior already noted for its sense of space, especially in the second row seats, set higher than those up front for a better view outside.

The revised 500L comes in three versions: Urban, the 'basic' spec and the most popular; Cross, with gently raised ground clearance and modest off-road ability thanks to traction and hill descent controls and a 14cms longer Wagon, with a third row of seats and room for a couple of modestly sized passengers.

There are two petrol engines, both 1.4 litres with either 95 or 120 horsepower (the latter with a nasty £500 first year road tax thanks to 157g/km emissions) and a couple of diesels, a 1.3 litre with 95 horsepower and the possibility of an automatic gearbox and a 120 horsepower 1.6 litre.

Prices start at £16,195 for a 1.4 95hp in Pop Star trim and peak at the 500L Wagon 1.6 diesel 120hp with manual gears or 1.3 litre diesel auto, both for £22,320. Likely best seller, the 1.4 petrol Lounge is £18,945.

There are lots of tempting - and reasonably priced - option packs. They include style with a upgrade with a contrasting roof colour for £900, heated windscreen at £350, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity for £150 and automatic city emergency braking and a self-dipping rear view mirror for £250.

For another £250 in the popular Lounge spec you can have a TomTom sat nav system built into the seven-inch touchscreen on the dash, along with DAB radio and Bluetooth - so good value for money.

Heading out for a drive in a 1.4 litre petrol engined 500L Lounge you're immediately seized by the amount of space inside the car, and a look in the boot reveals a similarly generous luggage area.

The 500L rides rougher roads with decent control and its engine stays nicely muted even when provoked - when you discover perfectly reasonable performance and - after a 90 minute jaunt through some of England's most coveted towns and villages, a trip readout of 40.4mpg.

A shorter drive in the most powerful of the diesel options upped this to 43.8mpg and showed off a car that stayed quiet and well mannered and felt properly eager to perform into the bargain. It does though add a stiff £1,875 to the bill.


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