A fresh look for the Fiat 500L


Tested by: Bob Flavin

I know what you’re thinking, Bob hasn’t reviewed a Fiat in a long time. Well there’s a good reason for that, Fiat have been restructuring their operations both in Ireland and the UK and so what we have now is a leaner, meaner team that are ready for steady growth. Our main PR person Conor Towmey is now the PR for both Ireland and the UK which is a huge promotion and he deserves it because it’s hard work and Conor does a great job.

Along with the changes there’s a new model that has just been released on the Irish market. The 500L isn’t a a large version of the 500, it’s a totally different car. It’s much bigger than it looks in pictures, it’s more like a full sized MPV and it does actually come in seven seat version too.

The exterior takes a bit of getting used too, as on first sight it does look odd but I think it’s a decent looking car, better than the usual gray boxes that the segment throws at us. It’s not all quirk either, the doors open really wide to allow access for family, you can stand under the boot lid while loading the shopping and there’s a huge amount of loading space in the cabin and boot.

The interior is top class, there’s a very high quality feeling to every surface and what Fiat call ‘squircles‘ everywhere, it’s a mix of square and circles, it’s a pattern I first seen in the Panda and I rather like saying the word. What really struck me about the interior is how much room there is both up front and for the rear seat passengers. The rear bench is theater style so they are slightly higher than the front seats and that means the kids can see out the front window. This should put an end to being car sick for the little ones because it’s the lack of being able to see the horizon that causes most car sickness.

There’s a decent line up of engines too, the 1.2 petrol moves well but the one I’d have would be the 1.6 diesel and in the right tax band, it has 90bhp which is more than enough to get you around. Added to that the fuel economy which is a very respectable 5.0/100kms and you have a winning combo.

On the road the 500L is as you’d expect a tall car to be, there is a bit of Fiat sharpness to the handling and there’s a big steering wheel which, incidentally isn’t round, it’s a squircle. The suspension is good over the bumps and even in the 7 seat version there isn’t too much bounce down the rear when you go over a speed bump.

There’s no reason why the Fiat 500L shouldn’t sell in Ireland, I know a lot of you come with the pre-conception of Fiat build quality and reliability but that is a thing of the past. The new range of Fiat should make you sit up and think about the brand again because Fiat are back and you really need to sit in and drive the cars to see what I’m on about.