Unconventionally Fiat

news: Unconventionally Fiat

By Guilherme Marques

This Fiat has the same name as the 500, the same interior as the Panda and is built on the Punto platform – conventional is not a word the Italians are familiar with.

The new 500L is Fiat’s first attempt at capitalising on the enormous success the revival of the 500 city car has generated. I say first because a new crossover 500X is in the works and we will probably see it later in the year.

When I saw the first pictures of the 500L, I was not convinced by the design. It seemed like a 500 on steroids but prescribed by the wrong doctor – the result was not an improvement on the original, quite the contrary.

But the best button was the ASR, where you can turn off the stability control. I just love the Italian’s sense of humour, and not just because of the latest election results where a comedian was the only clear winner. I love it because in a 1.3 diesel, 85-horse-power people carrier that is barely faster than Usain Bolt, they put an ASR button, but in my very own 500 Abarth Esseesse pocket rocket, a car that is little different from the 500 Abarth Assetto Corse race car, I cannot turn the stability control off.

Still, the MultiJet unit works well where it matters most, achieving remarkable consumption levels of 4.5 litres on the highway when travelling within the legal limits and 5.8 across city traffic.

The average for the whole 250km of the test was a very interesting 5.5 litres/100km. Very good work was done keeping road and wind noise from invading the cabin and the 500L is a good car for travelling long distances, although the seats could offer a bit more support.

The electric steering offers an artificial feel, but the ‘city’ mode is perfect for parking and tight manoeuvring around town.

My test of the 500L coincided with the exact time when I had to leave my apartment for some much-needed renovations. I could not believe everything I could stuff inside this ‘small big’ Fiat. It just seemed there was always space for something more, which is definitely a big asset in this type of car.

My family did not complain about anything while riding in it, so I am guessing comfort is good for all passengers, while practicality is a clear selling point.

My advice is, forget the boring colours and go for a white, red or yellow 500L. For a fraction over €22,000 you will have a convincing multi- purpose vehicle that will stand out among much more conventional opposition.