What is it?
The Beats Edition is the new range-topper for the Fiat 500L compact MPV. It’s based on the lavishly equipped Fiat 500L Trekking – the slightly higher-riding 500L with soft-road pretences – and adds various styling and equipment upgrades for a likely premium of around £1600.
Exterior changes are focused on colours: the Beats Edition is available in different two-tone combinations of black and grey, with a choice of matt or gloss finishes. There also subtle touches of red, such as on the brake calipers that sit within dark, 17-inch alloy wheels.
The colour scheme continues inside, with a matte grey dashboard panel and black seats of fabric and faux leather with red ‘500’ logos on the backrests. Dual-zone climate control is an upgrade over Trekking spec, as is the seven-speaker, 520-watt Beats Audio sound system that lends the model its name.
Coinciding with the introduction of the Beats Edition is the introduction of two new engines that will be available across the 500L range. Both four-cylinder units generating 118bhp, they are a 1.4-litre T-Jet turbo petrol turning out 159lb ft at 2500rpm and a 1.6-litre MultiJet diesel that’s good for a sturdy 236lb ft at 1750rpm.
The other engines available in the Beats Edition are 104bhp units in the form of the 0.9 TwinAir petrol and a lesser-powered but equally torquey version of the 1.6 MultiJet.
What's it like?
The styling changes give the Beats Edition a more ‘urban’ look, especially in the striking matte grey finish, and the sound system certainly packs a punch.
Look hard and you’ll find a few rough plastic edges inside, but cabin quality is generally good and betters the three-door 500, albeit the 500L’s styling is a little more conservative. The special seats are firm but supportive at the sides, and while the driving position is high-ish, you don’t feel perched like in the 500.
The 118bhp MultiJet – likely to cost £500 more than the 104bhp version – gains its extra power via a variable-geometry turbocharger at the meagre cost of 1.4mpg and 3g/km of CO2. Although the newer unit is noticeably brisker (10.7sec to 62mph versus 11.3sec) and pulls strongly from 2000rpm after a moment’s lag, it suffers the same refinement shortfalls as the lesser version.
It also sounds busy at idle and boomy under full throttle, and a resonance chimed in at 4000rpm in our test car. It settles at a cruise but is never truly hushed. The six-speed manual gearbox is both positive-feeling and precise.
The car’s ride (10 per cent higher than standard 500Ls) is comfort-focused and produces a generally relaxed gait. Body roll is quite strong if you do choose to push on through corners, but it’s never unstable. The steering is equally relaxed, and offers a City mode that feels like you’re pawing at air for close-quarter manoeuvres, but it is accurate.
Lower-mileage users might prefer the 1.4 T-Jet version, which is a full 110kg lighter and slightly nimbler as a result. You need to push beyond 4000rpm for a strong response, but there’s less lag than in the diesel, and the T-Jet – near-silent at idle and when cruising – has much better manners. It should cost around £1000 less than the equally powerful diesel but delivers a middling 40.9mpg and emits 159g/km of CO2.