What the Fiat 500L represents is the future of the ‘500’ sub-brand. It had recently debuted last month at the Geneva Motor Show and is the first of a series of multi-purpose vehicles to arrive. When the 500 was launched by Fiat in 2007, the automaker didn’t hesitate in following Mini’s example in its presentation and marketing for it to be an in-demand fashion item.
The campaign was very effective in making the 500 the top-selling model in Europe. Fiat threw out the prospect of making a stand-alone brand such as Mini but it thinks that the 500 family can be extended beyond the Panda-based A-sector model. The L in 500L means ‘Large’ and is considered as a counterpart of the Mini Countryman but is priced lower.
When compared to the Countryman, the 500L, at 4140mm, is longer by 50mm longer and taller by 100mm than the Countryman. The 500L looks more like a typical compact MPV but with conventional doors and just five seats. Roberto Giolito, Fiat’s design chief and the ‘father’ of the 500, has carried over the “smiling face” of the original car for this bigger model.
It has more interior space that’s light and airy due to its deep windows, narrow, twin A-pillars and a panoramic glass roof. It comes with new finishes and it uses high-quality materials that are durable and easier to clean. Like the existing 500, the enlarged model will be offered with three trim levels: Pop, Easy and Lounge.
It also comes with a wide variety of options. The 500L uses the Punto Evo platform which Fiat refers to as ‘Small Wide’ and will be featured in various future vehicles in the Fiat-Chrysler group such as the new Fiat and Jeep SUV to be made in Turin. The 500L would be the second Fiat model to be available in North America.
In 2014, a seven-seater version, which is 200mm longer but on the same wheelbase, will be launched. It is likely to be tagged XL. The future versions come with a ‘Cross’ version that’s more rugged. It also features front-wheel drive but with sophisticated traction control to make it appropriate for mild off-roading.