Fiat 500L review

Essentially the bigger brother of Fiat’s hugely-successful 500 city car, the 500L takes the same cute styling and familiar Fiat features but adds a larger wheelbase, bigger boot and larger interior.

Aimed primarily at drivers who like the style and appeal of Fiat’s standard 500 range but who need a little extra practicality, the 500L mini-MPV comes with a range of smart equipment true to Fiat’s concept of a ‘grown-up’ 500.

Like the 500, the 500L is a quirky and yet versatile alternative to traditional MPV models like the Ford B-MAX, combining effortless retro charm with all-round usability.

Exterior

Obviously inspired by the iconic design of the standard 500 city car, the 500L inherits the same snub nose and funky, rounded styling, albeit with a slightly chunkier and more muscular appearance.

As well as that, it’s quite obviously larger, with a bigger wheelbase than the 500 that gives it the extra space inside, while five doors make it easier to access.

Clocking in at 4,140mm long and 1,780mm wide, it’s certainly larger than its 500 counterpart, but not unwieldy, meaning that parking is still easy.

One of the major selling points of the 500L, along with the rest of Fiat’s range, is the customisability and personalisation options. Fiat claims that the 500L can be specified with more than 300 colour combinations alone, while customers also have the option to personalise the interior.

Interior

Like the exterior, the inside of the Fiat 500L keeps the stylish retro theme, while each model comes with a height- and reach-adjustable steering wheel so drivers can get comfortable.

Thanks to its larger size, the 500L is much larger inside than the 500, with excellent leg and headroom for passengers in the front, while three six-foot adults can comfortably sit in the back.

It also boasts a 400-litre boot capacity, compared with only 185 litres on the standard 500, while the boot floor can be raised or lowered to increase storage space. In total, the boot can expand to 1,350-litres with the rear seats folded flat, which easily tumble down with the flip of a handle.

Fiat has also loaded the 500L with a range of useful cubbyholes for extra storage, which include a large glovebox on the dashboard, two cup holders and door bins big enough for a couple of water bottles.

Four trim levels are available: entry-level Pop, the mid-range Pop Star and Lounge trims plus the range-topping Trekking model. Fiat also offers a special 500L Beats Edition, based on the Trekking trim and equipped with a range of extra features inspired by Dr Dre.

Standard kit across the range includes Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control and a radio with a five-inch touchscreen system.

Moving up through the trim levels adds a body-coloured dashboard and alloy wheels, plus rear parking sensors, climate control and a panoramic glass roof. Other features include cool mod cons like a special Lavazza coffee maker, which fits inbetween the front two seats, while the Beats Edition features the most kit of all.

It comes with all of the above, plus a special matte-grey dashboard panel, and a Beats by Dre audio system installed as standard. The seven-speaker system with two subwoofer channels is specially tuned to recreate the sound spectrum that artists experience during studio recordings.

Additional features also standard for the Trekking model include rear electric windows, front fog lights, a touchscreen infotainment system, automatic headlights, rain sensors and rear privacy glass.

On the road

A range of engines are available with the 500L, including two TwinAir petrol engines, and a range of economical diesel units.

The pick of the bunch in terms of economy is the 1.3-litre diesel, which can return up to 67.2mpg with CO2 emissions of just 110g/km. The 0.9-litre petrol is also a strong contender, with a road tax-free emission level of just 95g/km, but it returns only 60.1mpg.

However economical, none of the 500L’s engines are particularly hot, though this is to be expected as it’s designed a comfortable and economical family car rather than a hot hatch racer.

So long as you’re not focused on pure performance, the 500L still manages well on the road, while its raised ride height also offers a better view of the road ahead than the standard 500.

Suspension is comfortable and tackles most bumps in the road with ease, though it’s at its most comfortable in urban environments rather than at high speeds.

Regardless, light steering and pedals means that it’s easy to drive and the controls aren’t too taxing on the driver, making for a decent-handling and safe MPV.

Verdict

The Fiat 500L offers a viable alternative to the regular small family car market, with funkier chic styling that’ll appeal to a certain kind of young urban driver or parent.

While it’s by no means the most exciting drive or the raciest car on the market, the 500L’s main selling point is its practicality, and here is where it excels.

Practical, economical and with a wide choice of options and trims, the 500L offers a large cabin and huge boot give space for days, while a wide range of colour and interior options means that every driver can pick and choose features which suit them.

The Fiat 500L is available to buy from Perrys dealerships today, with prices starting from £13,040.