New Fiat 500L: Long in the roof, quick on the hoof

  • Convenient, more technological – the new Fiat 500L
  • Three identities for all needs: Urban, Cross, Wagon
  • Accessories ranges run to an astonishing 92
2017 FIAT 500L: Image: FiatChrysler / Newspress
2017 FIAT 500L: Image: FiatChrysler / Newspress

LONGER, MORE ADAPTABLE, more functions and more variety – it’s the Fiat 500L in hatch, wagon and off-road body styles while being an unashamed almost-copy of the long-standing Mini range from Britain.

“It’s the roomiest 500 yet,” Fiat says, “and is full of technology connectivity, character and personality as the Urban, Cross and Wagon.”

2017 FIAT 500L: Image: FiatChrysler / Newspress
2017 FIAT 500L: Image: FiatChrysler / Newspress

The style changes are obvious but, the automaker adds, about 40% of its components are new and the cars have their own stylistic characteristics. “The 500L combines best-in-class versatility with genuine 500 values and features,” Fiat explains. “These are sufficient to make it unique but combine them with the functionality of an MPV.”

Each version has Normal, Traction+ and ‘Gravity Control’ (more on that later!) driving modes. The cars can also stay connected for communication, music, traffic and weather information the a Uconnect system that uses a 19cm hires touchscreen for Apple Car Play or Android Auto.

The Cross (presumably short for cross-country?) rides 25mm than its model mates and can be identified by its new bumper design, side protection and new front and rear skid plates. The Cross is accompanied by the purest of city versions, the Urban and the Wagon, each of which, Fiat says, “are spacious with versatility taken to the highest levels with seven fully reconfigurable seats”.

“These are not just three versions,” Fiat emphasises. “Each has an authentic identity for different needs but shares outstanding safety features such as auto city braking (under 30km/h) and the largest boot in its class.

2017 FIAT 500L: Image: FiatChrysler / Newspress
2017 FIAT 500L: Image: FiatChrysler / Newspress

“Cabin configuration is also extremely flexible – buyers can create as many as 1500 customisations with accessory packs for style, connectivity, comfort and safety.

READ MORE Fiat features on Carman’s Corner

“Petrol, LPG, methane and diesel engines delivering as much as 90kW, turn a five- or six-speed manual or Dualogic robotic auto transmissions are available across the range.”

There’s no doubt about the 500L’s identity, despite it similarity to the Mini. “The exterior,” Fiat says, “has all the elements of the 500 of its iconic 1950’s forebear – most obviously the ‘moustache-and-badge’ on the trapezoidal nose, the upper headlights with chromed elements, still circular, and the lower cluster with of diode daylight running lights which pick up the graphics of the two zeros in 500.

“It’s detailing that clearly proclaims the cars’ identity, even at night.

“The fog and reversing lights are under the bumper – functional rather than stylistic, and increases the effectiveness of the various lights.” (The Corner believes the higher the lights are set, the better the visibility, but there you go… – Ed)

2017 FIAT 500L: Image: FiatChrysler / Newspress
2017 FIAT 500L: Image: FiatChrysler / Newspress

The 500L is available in 10 pastel or metallics and three alternative roof finishes: gloss black, white, or matt black. Overall, 37 colour combinations with the body blue, orange, bronze, white, yellow, black, two greys, green, and red.

The various interiors are, Fiat says, all-new. “The facia is more high-tech, the cabin more comfortable, convenient, versatile and light-filled and rich in 500 touches. Behind the re-styled multifunction steering-wheel are chromed accents, round tacho and speedometer frame a either side of a 9cm colour graphic display.”

The driver also has a colour digital display.

The new 500L has what Fiat describes as “an innovative wraparound glazing concept” to improve the view of the road and to make parking easier though a glazed A pillar and the whole is brightened by a glass sunroof – fixed or opening.

2017 FIAT 500L: Image: FiatChrysler / Newspress
2017 FIAT 500L WAGON: Image: FiatChrysler / Newspress

The gearshifter has been redesigned, raised and “embellished with the 500 logo”
“And just to be different,” the automaker says, “a Popstar trim level expresses the young, functional, practical side of the model with body-colour matching fascia, black fabric seats, denim central band and white vinyl inserts embossed with ‘500’.”

Lounge trim “aims for modernity and elegance”. The facia has a 19cm Uconnect HD Live infotainment system; upholstery varies from cooler to warmer colour but each uses diamond-weave fabric, double stitching and black vinyl head restraints and armrests.

The Cross goes for sporty “to express the soul and spirit of adventure to the fullest with the 19cm display, black interiors, fabric seats and titanium vinyl inserts embossed with the ‘500’ logo. Grey or black leather upholstery is an option in the Urban and Wagon Lounge trim levels and on the Cross.

2017 FIAT 500L: Image: FiatChrysler / Newspress
2017 FIAT 500L CROSS: Image: FiatChrysler / Newspress

Boot volume (rear seat forward) is 455 litres in the Urban and Cross and 638 litres in the Wagon (416 litres if seven seats are fitted. Folding and tumbling the seats takes luggage volume to 1480 litres for Urban and Cross and 1784 litres for the Wagon.

The 500 Cross, Fiat says, is the horizon-breaking and most adventurous 500L is the Cross with its skidplates, two-colour diamond-finish 17” rim/tyre combination and a bolder grille and at last ‘Gravity Control’ (remember) is explained:

Normal is the default for a comfortable and safe ride in ordinary conditions. Traction+ (below 30km/h) helps on snow and (wait for it!) Gravity Control is known on other makes simply as gradient descent control – no levitation implied.

2017 FIAT 500L: Image: FiatChrysler / Newspress
2017 FIAT 500L: Image: FiatChrysler / Newspress

The external mirrors have power adjustment, heating and folding and can be upgraded to include puddle lights. The cabin has ambient lighting in the base of the central console, on the transmission tunnel and on the doors.

The reversing camera has improved resolution for poor visibility and moving grid lines will be added to units assembled in the last quarter of 2017.

Size matters in cars as well. The 500L Cross is 4.28m long, its wheelbase of 2.61m its 1.80m wide and 1.68m tall. The 500L Urban measures is 4.24m long, its wheelbase is 2.61m, its width 1.78m wide and its roof is 1.66m above ground. The 500L Wagon, claimed to be the most compact seven-seater on the market, differs in that it is 4.38m long.

…AND THE ENGINES

Different engines are for different models: the petrol units are a 1.4 quad-valve delivering 71kW, the 90kW 1.4 16V TJet (we guess that’s a turbo) and a 900cc TwinAir delivering 78kW. The range is completed with a bi-fuel petrol/LPG 1.4 TJet capable of 90kW and a 63kW bi-fuel petrol/methane 900cc TwinAir.

There are two diesels: 75kW 1.3 quad-valve MultiJet, also with Dualogic transmission, and 90kW 1.6 quad-valve MultiJet. Each, Fiat says, complies with the Euro 6 requirements.

If you require more decoration/accessories then Mopar has 92 accessories for safety, luggage, children and customisation.

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