The Fiat 500L heralds a series of MPVs and is an indication of the future for Fiat’s ‘500’ sub-brand
20 April 2012

The Fiat 500L, which made its debut at the Geneva Motor Show last month, heralds a series of multi-purpose vehicles and is an indication of the future for Fiat’s ‘500’ sub-brand.

When it launched the Fiat 500 in 2007, the firm unashamedly followed the example of Mini in its presentation and marketing, making it a must-have fashion item and resulting in the 500 becoming its best-selling model in Europe.

Fiat has rejected the idea of creating a stand-alone brand like Mini, but believes that there is scope to extend the 500 family beyond the Panda-based A-sector model. The 500L (the ‘L’ stands for Large) can be seen as its equivalent of the Mini Countryman – at a lower price.

The 4140mm 500L is 50mm longer and 100mm taller than the Countryman and a more typical compact MPV, though with conventional doors and only five seats. Fiat design chief Roberto Giolito, the ‘father’ of the 500, has adopted the original car’s ‘smiling face’ for the enlarged model, which is spacious and has a light and airy interior, thanks to deep windows, narrow, twin A-pillars and a panoramic glass roof. It includes new finishes and materials of high quality that are claimed to be durable and easy to clean. As with the current 500, there will be three distinct trim levels – Pop, Easy and Lounge - and a wide range of options provide plenty of scope for personalization.

The 500L is built on a development of the Punto Evo platform which Fiat calls ‘Small Wide’ and will be used for a variety of future vehicles in the Fiat-Chrysler group, including the new Fiat and Jeep SUV to be made in Turin. The 500L will be the second Fiat model to be sold in North America.

A seven-seater version, 200mm longer but on the same wheelbase, will be introduced in 2014; it is expected to be tagged XL. Future variants will include a more rugged ‘Cross’ version, front-wheel drive but with sophisticated traction control to make it suitable for mild off-roading.

The 500L is being made in Serbia, at the entirely re-furbished and re-equipped former Zastava plant in Kragujevac that was officially opened on 16 April. The five-door model will go on sale in mainland Europe in the autumn. There will be a choice of two petrol engines (0.9 litre Twin Air and 1.4 four-cylinder) and two diesels (1.3 and 1.6).

Right-hand drive cars for the UK will be available early next year. Prices can be expected to start at around £15,000.

Ray Hutton

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Fiat 500

The Fiat 500 is a deserved success story for the brand, offering bags of style, a fine drive and low costs

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Comments
12

20 April 2012

Interested in reading the opinion of others: I much prefer the fourth sketch - it makes the car quite different but related to the 500, not just a beefed up version of it. And the design is very pleasing. For a start, there's no double A pillar to obscure side vision.

20 April 2012

So from this I gather the Large is Long and Tall and built on the Small Wide platform. And we thought Mercedes Benz was confusing us.

20 April 2012

[quote wolseley] I gather the Large is Long and Tall and built on the Small Wide platform.[/quote]Personally, I blame Starbucks.

20 April 2012

Fiat has clearly hit a rich vein with the 500 sub brand and considering the sales performance of the rest of their range, I am not surprised they are milking it for all it is worth.

I do have to take my hat off to them though, I thought BMW / Mini were stretching the original concept of their car a little too far, a seven seat for the 500 is taking it another step further.

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

20 April 2012

[quote TegTypeR]I do have to take my hat off to them though, I thought BMW / Mini were stretching the original concept of their car a little too far, a seven seat for the 500 is taking it another step further.[/quote]

Oh I don't know... the fities 500 spawned the bigger 600 and the original Multipla, arguably the first MPV of all so at least there's a precedent. (although I think the 600 actually came first)

Still think this thing is pig ugly though. I have a 500. I wouldn't trade up to this.

20 April 2012

The fifth sketch reminds me of Rover's original idea for a 'new' Mini in the early 90's.


20 April 2012

[quote Los Angeles]

[quote wolseley] I gather the Large is Long and Tall and built on the Small Wide platform.[/quote]Personally, I blame Starbucks.

[/quote]

They havea lot to answer for, when the last Fiesta-sized car was called the Grande Punto.

20 April 2012

[quote nicebiscuit]

[quote TegTypeR]I do have to take my hat off to them though, I thought BMW / Mini were stretching the original concept of their car a little too far, a seven seat for the 500 is taking it another step further.[/quote]

Oh I don't know... the fities 500 spawned the bigger 600 and the original Multipla, arguably the first MPV of all so at least there's a precedent. (although I think the 600 actually came first)

[/quote]

Exactly. It's not really a problem with the car itself, it's just the naming that has a reek of desperation and shameless marketing. Had they called it the Multipla or 600 or even 850 they'd still be able to keep a connection to the past without leaving a bad taste in peoples mouths.

And i'm not that sure that this will sell that well. They better keep the pricing in check, the 500 name isn't as strong as the Mini name.

 

 

20 April 2012

[quote tuga]And i'm not that sure that this will sell that well. They better keep the pricing in check, the 500 name isn't as strong as the Mini name.[/quote]

The 500 sells because of the actual car, not because of the badge on the back. Particularly in base spec it's a good value proposition - very classy feeling for the near-budget pricing. I can't see this repeating the trick.

21 April 2012

I just wished they'd followed MINI in one other respect, by introducing the small estate version of the 500 hatch. You never hear anything about that now.

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