What is it?
It's the furthest stretch of the Fiat 500 sub-brand to date - the 500L MPW (multi purpose wagon). And stretch is the operative word: at 205mm longer than the 500L, it has room for an optional pair of extra seats that increase the maximum passenger count from five to seven.
At 4352mm long, however, it's much shorter even than most compact seven-seaters, clipping 168mm from the Ford Grand C-Max (from £19,945), 221mm from the Renault Grand Scenic (from £20,355), and 238mm from the Citroën C4 Grand Picasso (from £19,605), in an attempt to retain urban agility. The MPW’s closest seven-seat competitor dimensionally is the van-based Citroën Berlingo Multispace 1.6 HDi 90 VTR with the family pack, which starts at £15,575.
Although UK pricing and exact specification for the MPW is yet to be finalised, it's likely that the longer body will cost an additional £800 over the 500L, with £700 more for the extra seats. So the entry-level price should be around £18,000 for a seven-seater, when it goes on sale in September.
There will be just two trim levels - Pop Star and Lounge (eschewing the 500L's Easy spec) - while the 500L's cheapest engine (the naturally aspirated 1.4-litre petrol unit) won't be offered. Instead, launch engines will comprise the 0.9-litre TwinAir petrol (104bhp) plus 1.3 and 1.6-litre Multijet diesels (84bhp and 104bhp respectively), with 1.4-litre turbo petrol and 1.6 Multijet diesels, both giving 118bhp, to come towards the end of the year.
All will use a six-speed manual gearbox, apart from the 1.3 diesel that gets a five-speeder in either manual or automated manual Dualogic guise.
Our test car for the international launch in Milan was a 104bhp 1.6-litre diesel in Lounge trim.
What's it like?
With all that extra metal tacked on the back, the MPW extends the already chunky-looking 500L's profile, and despite retaining some of the 500 hatch's cutesy styling, this is still very obviously a big car - big enough to dwarf our example's 17in alloys (the largest rim size available).
As in the 500L, the seating position is commanding and there's an excellent field of vision. The seats are soft but supportive with height adjustment for the driver, and although there is some hard plastic to be found (and some sharp edges in less-frequented areas like the boot cubbies), most surfaces - including the Lounge model's attractive ‘ecoleather’ dash inserts - are pleasantly tactile, nicely finished and accurately fitted.
As you'd expect there's plenty of interior flexibility - the second row of seats (splitting 60:40) can slide backwards and forwards, fold down and tip forwards, the front passenger seat folds down to help accommodate loads of up to 2600mm in length, and the rearmost two seat-backs fold flat to form a sturdy boot floor, flush with the boot lip. A big front central cubby is missing, but there are other thoughtful touches like picnic tables behind the front seats.
With the rearmost seats empty, there's plenty of headroom and legroom in the middle row, although any central passenger will struggle for shoulder space. Realistically, the sixth and seventh seats should be reserved for kids, and their employment forces a six-footer in the middle row to splay his knees. It also reduces load space to a measly 168 litres, but that’s still more than the Berlingo’s 100 litres. MPWs without the extra two seats offer up to 638 litres with the rear pews up and a maximum of 1708 litres when they’re folded.