For 55 years, the Fiat 500 has been a world icon. This week’s announcement of the new Fiat 500L expands the Cinquecento’s appeal by offering a vehicle that has 42 percent extra interior space, and is 20 percent longer, 9 percent wider, and 11 percent taller than the modern Fiat 500, with 124% more cargo space. This allows the vehicle to seat and accommodate five comfortably.
Under the hood, a dynamic 160-horsepower, 4-cylinder, 1.4 liter MultiAir turbo engine and the fuel-saving six-speed transmission deliver an EPA estimated 33 mpg highway, which is 33 percent better than previous models.
The Fiat 500L can be equipped with either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed Euro Twin Clutch; all wrapped in contemporary Italian design.
This modern generation of Fiat 500s was launched in 2007. Since then, more than one million have been sold in 110 countries. This all new 2014 Fiat 500L is produced at the Fiat Automobile Plant in Kragujevac, Serbia.
The 500L lineup has inspired four distinct spirits (personalities). The 500L Pop is young, dynamic, and cool. While the 500L Easy is comfortable, practical, and bright. The 500L Trekking is rugged and athletic, and the 500L Lounge is wonderfully elegant, sophisticated, and contemporary. The 500L ranges in price from the Pop at $19,100 to the Lounge for $24,195. Each of the four modes is the same size, with the same horsepower, but varies in features and technology. Price increases with each mode as the amenities expand.
The Fiat 500L maintains its European flavoring and continental DNA. It delivers rugged styling with an aggressive-design exterior and an especially attractive interior environment. The Trekking model is obviously pronounced with bolder 2-piece front and rear fascia with Grigio Chiaro (Graphite Metallic) inserts, and recessed license plate area, large lower opening fog lamps, and adjacent “nostril” type air openings at the corners. Model specific satin silver “whiskers” headlamps, tail lamps, door handles, and Grigio Chiaro wheel arch and body side sill mouldings make it attractive at the approach. The price for the Trekking is $21,195.
The Fiat 500L is city-friendly. The liftgate is designed so the cargo-lift height is 26.2 inches from the ground, making loading easy. The rear fascia and bumper are well integrated into the design of the five-door for shorter overhangs.
On the back of the car are square-in-circular tail lamps and a prominent Fiat lift gate badge with the “500L” logo beneath.
Inside, the upper instrument panel is designed to convey a sense of refinement, elegance, and fun with availability of color-matched exterior accents and premium vinyl-wrapped or painted accents.
At the center, the all new Uconnect 5.0 or 6.5 system, featuring a 5-inch or a 6.5-inch touch screen and two large analog gauges, that provides fuel and engine temperature information. I must admit I did not like the way the gauges were set up. Although I tried several seat positions, I never could view the gauges clearly at the same time. I would rather have the engine gauge larger and more centered. Also, the steering wheel was too thick because it hid too much of the instrument gauges. However, on the passenger side, a recessed instrument panel cubby and covered box were available for quick storage.
“Safety is a priority,” said Jiyan Cadiz, Product Communications. “Advanced safety technology affords the level of driving confidence.” There are seven standard airbags including driver and front passenger advanced multistage air bags, driver’s knee air bags, full length side curtain airbags, and standard seat mounted side pelvic-thorax air bags, which all offer great protection.
Electronic Stability Control, ParkView rear backup camera, and All Speed Traction Control are just some of the other 43 available safety and security features.
Electric power steering (EPS) and driving steering torque (DST) are systems that improve both handling and performance. Also the new architecture enables the Fiat 500L to feel tighter and stiffer with an added sense of confidence and control during high speed maneuvers.
Even though the interior was not particularly soft to the touch, the vehicle was wonderfully quiet, even on bumpy roads. I was also surprised at the roominess for a long-legged guy like me with a bum knee.
The absolute best feature was the “cab forward” design, complemented with segment-exclusive panoramic glass enclosure spanning from A- to D-pillars that provided a nearly 360-degree panoramic view, and the available dual-panel sunroof which opened up the view above.
Durhl Caussey writes a car column read around the world. You may reach him at this newspaper of email@example.com