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Fiat 500L: Technical Review

With the 500L,  the Turin small touring car offers lavish equipment, and valuable interior space for five, which becomes seven seats in the bigger Living version. Now equipped with more powerful engines and already aligned with the Euro 6 regulations.

Duilio Damiani

Once upon a time there was the Fiat 500. The one that for the first time allowed any family the opportunity to have a car. It was after the Second World War, in last century’s mid- 50s, and next to the small 500 model, a brilliant , even more spacious model appeared (size very relevant , given the general dimensions of those true runabouts ) called 600 Multipla. With a leap in time we come to the present day , where the legacy of the 500 seems to be well interpreted by today’s homonymous model. And to ensure the same appeal to a larger version , beside the figure, a letter L appears to identify the model " Large" with space for five occupants. The 500L , launched at the end of 2012 is enhanced by more modern engines, in line with increased demand for sportsmanship and conservation of the environment , both with 120 hp of maximum power and aligned with the Euro 6 emission regulations in force from next fall.


Don’t call it a citycar

In times when small size does not mean austerity and economy at all costs, the 500L is trimmed for comfort , including modern and sophisticated equipment that can deal with a very fierce competition ( French and German in particular) , offering content well above the concept of utility, pushing the limits of luxury and sophistication at the top of the range. Looking at the external dimensions of 4.15 meters in length, 1.78 width and 1.65 meters in height , which become 4.35 in length for the seven-seats Living version, the 500L has a compact and functional design, with wide sides and short overhang. Not exactly a slender silhouette, lightened with mouldings in contrasting colour and two-tone finishes , which shows that family feeling image only on the smaller sister 500. Created by exploiting the chassis quality of the second generation Small- platform, used by the Fiat group for other compact models (like Panda ) and through the Cab Forward architecture concept, incidentally introduced more than half a century ago right on the famous 600 Multipla , the forward driving position makes the 500L a cross between a sedan and a small minivan, classed as an MPV , and fits both the family needs, even on long summer trips , as everyday use , where verve and great handling makes the task of driving in city traffic much lighter.

From a purely aesthetic point of view, to grace a rather muscular, though very personal, appearance, the 500L is offered in a multitude of colours and combinations, with more than 30 colours for the body and three levels of standard equipment, called Pop, Pop Star and Lounge, alongside special versions to further enhance the content, such as the Business, the Trekking (with  crossover style trimming) and the limited Beat Edition. To broaden an already large colour combinations think of the vast range of wheels, with at least nine types of alloy wheels - in addition to those in steel - finished in white, gray, black or metallic.

Colourful outside, great light inside, thanks to a glass surface that spans the entire circumference of the top section, enhanced by a panoramic Sky Dome sunroof. Space, comfort and widely adjustable seats , with fabric covers more or less matched to the body colour. The complex equipment on board, in addition to traditional safety equipment that we're accustomed to finding on almost any vehicle nowadays, such as front and side airbags , ABS with EBD, DRLs and electric power steering with City function, includes an electronic kit to embarrass any upper class sedan. One for all , at the centre of the instrument panel dominated by the 5-inch “infotainment” display station, a real control unit with touch screen technology that integrates all the functions of the vehicle, from diagnosis and navigation application with echoDrive to provide parameters to drive with fuel saving in mind, to audio entertainment , car radio with CD/MP3 Uconnect , USB and bluetooth to connect the phone and music playback systems, access to social networks and all the content of the web. When the trip is prolonged, or just to impress your friends , you can make a good cup of coffee on board , thanks to an agreement between Fiat and Lavazza , among the options we find a coffee pod machine for a good espresso or cappuccino at any time.

Being at full load is not a problem, despite the external dimensions there’s adequate space for all five seats, up to seven in the 500L Living version, thanks to a 2.61 metres long wheelbase, while maintaining a luggage capacity of 400 litres, which can be expanded to 1310 litres (638 to 1,708 litres on Living) reclining - separately with 60/40 split - the backrest of the rear seat.


Reduced, in large scale 

As soon as it was launched, the 500L already had a choice of four engines, from the two-cylinder TwinAir a model of economy, even with its 105 hp of maximum power, flanked by the more traditional 1.4-liter four-cylinder , 95 HP and two turbo-diesel engines respectively of 1.3 and 1.6 litres and a power range between 85 and 105 hp .

With downsizing as the main concept,  for those who want the ultimate expression of performance in ever smaller displacement , a new range of engines is introduced from this year, capable of giving greater verve to the Turin MPV (produced, though, in factories across the border, in Kragujevac, Serbia ) . Starting this spring, the range has expanded with the introduction of a 1.4 litre petrol T-Jet, where Fire technology is combined with a low inertia turbocharger , capable of delivering admirable performance for such small displacement , with 120 hp and 215 Nm of torque at 2,500 rpm , so as to allow , through a 6-speed manual transmission, common to the whole range, a higher travelling flexibility. The resulting performance is a top speed of nearly 190 km / h and acceleration from 0-100 km / h in 10.2 seconds, with an average fuel consumption of 14.5 km / litre and emissions of 159 g / km of CO2. And if you prefer the traditional fuel injection gas , this unit is also flanked by a dual fuel/ LPG  engine, that guarantees the same performance (losing just a little in starting and acceleration) along with maximum economy.

Finally, the upgraded 1.6 litre MultiJet II turbo-diesel, with new variable geometry turbine and new generation common-rail, with its 120 horsepower and 320 Nm of torque ensures performance and reduced demand for fuel. That is, 189 km / h top speed , acceleration 0-100 km / h in 10.7 seconds , average fuel consumption in the order of 21.7 km / litre and CO2 emissions of 120 g / km.
A dynamic design as displayed by the vehicle’s suspensions, independent for the front traction wheels and a torsion beam axle suspension for the rear , complemented by an ABS system with electronic stability control ESC , complete with ASR, ERM , active electronic steering DST and Hill Holder for re-starting uphill. The wheels with tire sizes ranging from 205 /55 R16 and  225/45 R17 low profile ( with the exception of the 195/65 R15 as the entry-level versions ) align perfectly with the technical and aesthetic standards - alloy wheels included - imposed by current trends.


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