Having already led its segment for half a decade, Fiat has decided to give its 500L a major shot-in-the-arm for 2017. Our motoring journalist, Tim Barnes-Clay, was flown to Turin by the Italian automaker to drive the updated model.
It is not often a car is so odd-looking that you feel a little bit sorry for it, but I was close to feeling that for the new 500L. However, we all know that looks aren’t everything, and this is certainly the case with this latest Fiat. Gaze well beyond the new Fiat 500L’s inelegant appearance and you have a vehicle that is impeccably sized for a family, or indeed for disabled occupants. Fiat hasn’t said if the 2017 500L will be obtainable on the Motability scheme, but I’d be surprised if it isn’t on the list when it makes its way to the British market later this summer.
As a dad-of-three, this car would certainly suit my family’s needs. I wouldn’t necessarily be showing it off to my mates, but I’d be glad of its comfort and room. Why Fiat has had to make the 500L quite so awkward-looking, I don’t know, but, one thing’s certain – it stands out. And the shades, including brown, orange, green red and blue, just add to the personality of the model.
So, let’s look more carefully at the 2017 Fiat 500L. What is it? Well, motoring around its natural locale of Turin, I discovered the car has a trinity of characters: Urban, Cross and Wagon. 40 per cent of all constituents have been renewed, and the 500L really is centering more than ever on lifestyle. It’s all about airiness and functionality – so it must be considered a mini multi-purpose-vehicle – or MPV, as it’s known in the industry.
I was handed the new 500L Cross version to drive. It includes a Mode Selector that gives you a choice of three response settings, according to driving style and road conditions: Normal, Traction+ and Gravity Control. The Fiat allows you to do all you would do with a family on regular asphalt, but with the bonus of managing coarse terrain when needed. It’s no die-hard mud-plugger, but, as I discovered on the rural outskirts of Turin, it’ll cope with shingly, pockmarked trails easily.
Indeed, the Cross version of the Fiat adds a new aspect to the personality of the 500L. On top of the Mode Selector, it has other features. The car has been raised to give 25mm more ground clearance and it has styling elements, which deliver a bona fide crossover look. The tailoring includes a fresh bumper design, different front and rear skid plates and new side protection mouldings.
Fiat has developed the 2017 500L just enough to make it a meaningful player in the family mini MPV marketplace. It’s more unconventional than many other people movers – and that idiosyncrasy might just be enough to budge sales. Above all, though, the new Fiat 500L Cross 1.4 T-Jet 120, as driven here, is accessible, comfortable, and resourceful. Oh yes, the car also boasts the roomiest boot in its segment. Families will appreciate the new 500L for this last advantage alone. Why not search for the 500L on our site, or pop in to see us?
Pros ‘n’ Cons
- Practical √
- Comfortable √
- Versatile √
- Family-friendly √
- A face only a mother could love X
Fast Facts (Cross 1.4 T-Jet 120 – as tested)
- Max speed: 114 mph
- 0-62 mph: 11.0 secs
- Combined mpg: 49.6
- Engine: 1.4 four-cylinder turbo petrol
- Max. power (PS): 120
- CO2: 163 g/km
- Price: £20,000 (approx.)