FIAT has launched the "big brother" of the small 500 and what a surprise the new sibling is! The baby Fiat has now grown into a sophisticated, spacious 500L, which is available in either diesel or petrol variants.
Fiat says the new bigger 500L has the best-in-class load capacity in terms of ratio between external dimensions – 4.15m long, 1.78m wide, 1.66m high and a 2.61m wheelbase, and interior space including the luggage compartment, which boasts a capacity of almost 400l, capable of transporting up to five roller suitcases.
The multitude of possible configurations of the interior space means one can easily transport loads up to 2.4m long by folding the front passenger seat and only one rear seat forward.
The innovative "cargo magic space" luggage compartment solution allows the boot to be adjusted in three levels; to separate fragile objects from heavy ones, clean objects from dirty ones and wet objects from dry ones.
The load compartment is also filled with pockets and hooks in order to transport any object in total safety and tidiness. Very smart idea!
The rear seats are longitudinally adjustable and fold separately to further increase rear passenger comfort. The "fold and tumble" function makes it possible to completely tilt the rear seat forwards resulting in a totally flat load compartment.
We liked the leg space front and rear, which makes the 500L a very comfortable car to spend a few hours in, and would make a good entry level family vehicle.
The Fiat 500L is available with the choice of two efficient engines distinguished by their lower polluting emissions and CO2levels – a petrol (70kW 1.4l) engine and a turbo-diesel (77kW 1.6l MultiJet 2) engine coupled to a six speed manual gearbox.
The launch in Stellenbosch this week took in city driving and country roads, which provided a good selection of what the average motorist can expect from this newcomer.
Our favourite was the 1.6 litre diesel model which handled most conditions with ease.
The torque (320Nm at 1750rpm) is more than adequate for a car this size.
Mountain passes were handled with relative ease, and overtaking was reasonable.
However, the 1.4 petrol engine (70kW) was not quite up to what was expected of it.
We found that on hills, one had to do a lot of cog-swapping to get maximum performance out of the vehicle.
The maximum speed for the petrol engine model is 170km/h and for the diesel model, 181km/h.
The acceleration figures from 0 to 100km/h are 12.8 seconds for the petrol model and 11.3 for the diesel.
Where the Fiat 500L scores big time is the fuel economy stakes.
The petrol version in the combined cycle returns 6.2 litres per 100km and 4.5 litres for the diesel model.
The segment where the 500L will compete in is packed with very good value for money cars and we feel that at the launch price it's going to be a tough nut to crack for Fiat.
500L 1.4l 16V Easy – R232990
500L 1.4l 16V Lounge – R247990
500L 1.6l Diesel MultiJet Lounge – R287990
The 500L is available from 35 Fiat dealerships nationwide and comes standard with a three- year/100000km warranty and maintenance plan.