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First Drive: Fiat 500L facelift

The story:
Fiat has brought the three versions of the 500L closer together with the latest revisions to the model. The 500L family now consists of a five-seat MPV, called the Urban, a seven-seat MPV called the Wagon and a rugged SUV-looking version called the Cross.
Category:Mini MPV
Key rival:Honda HR-V
Fiat 500L Urban Lounge 95hp 1.3 Multijet manual
Price:£18,500 (est)
MPG:65mpg (est)
Emissions:99g/km (est)
On sale:September 2017

In a bid to make the range more easily understood, Fiat has revised and renamed its three different 500L models as part of a mid-life refresh

The regular five-seat 500L hatch/MPV still exists, it now has the tag Urban added to the name. The seven-seat long-wheelbase 500L now becomes the 500L Wagon and the SUV-looking version becomes the 500L Cross.

Fiat claims the idea is to position the 500L as more of an SUV than an MPV, because the market for MPVs has been falling in recent years but the crossover sector has seen a rise in sales.

The look has been revised inside and out but at least in Urban and Wagon forms the 500L still looks very much like an MPV. The interior seating is also still designed like that in an MPV too. And this is no bad thing.

The cabin feels light and airy up front and thanks to rear seats that slide back and forth (to give up to 455 litres of boot space) there’s plenty of rear legroom. Unfortunately, the rear seats are positioned higher than the front seats – to give rear passengers a better view ahead – but this means there’s very limited headroom in the back for adult passengers

Sticking with the cabin, the dashboard has been extensively revised with a new, clearer instrument cluster including a colour screen for vehicle information and satnav instructions.

In the center of the dash is a new infotainment system which now includes a 7-inch colour screen and is equipped with Apple Carplay and Android Auto.

Overall the interior quality is good, but not great, with some harder plastics on the less visible areas.

Engine options come from the standard Fiat playbook. The best seller is likely to the be the 95hp 0.9-litre petrol, with a 120hp 1.4 petrol also on offer. For diesel there’s a 95hp 1.3 or a 120hp 1.6.

On the road the 500L offers a comfortable ride with the driver well insulated from bumps and rougher road surfaces even if there is noticeable transmission of noise through the suspension at town speeds.

At motorway speeds things get better and the refinement levels improve and could be classed as one of the car’s strengths.

The 500L in Urban guise (the standard five-seater) may not be the most appealing company car, but it does offer good boot space and decent kit for a very competitive price, which if residual values are decent, will result in competitive whole life costs making it a good fleet buy for those majoring on value.

 

tristan young

The verdict

A well-equipped supermini-MPV with efficient engines, good standard kit and a decent sized boot.