The press presentation of the 500 L in Belgium was held at the Brussels public transport museum: an ideal setting for this spacious trendsetting car.
Building compact cars with character, style, timeless panache is a rare art which Fiat masters very well indeed. The success of the “Cinquecento” is very well known to us all, and we love this car even more over the years.
But now again, Fiat has surpassed itself. Indeed, five years after the presentation of the Fiat 500 and 55 years after the début of the historic 500, Fiat presents to us a very functional 4,15 metre long SUV which breathes the iconic styling of the 500, and combines it with unseen space efficiency. We recently drove it in the Brussels streets and boulevards, near theTervueren Tram Museum. We can tell you here already: life is very cool with the Fiat 500 L…
Hans Knol ten Bensel
Putting everything in perspective: at the photosession during the test we ran by pure coinicidence into a new Panda, so we parked the 500 L in front of it: there is a family resemblance with the Panda, but the car is much larger... (use "Ctrl +" to enlarge this photo).
Using space with timeless elegance and efficiency
The car pleases immediately at first sight. It tells clearly from every millimetre of its well rounded curves that the Fiat styling people knew what they were doing. The car looks “just right” and its ideal proportions will prove to be timeless.
Fiat transcends the boundaries with this car: it is an MPV if you look at the passenger space, feels and drives like a compact SUV on the (city)roads.
Small-car efficieny is to be seen and felt everywhere. Fiat uses the suffix “L” for good reasons: To indicate that the car is indeed Large, but also Light. This 'lightness' means user-friendly technology and eco-friendliness; and last but not least Loft, a trend-setting environment where one can live life to the fullest. Indeed, the 500 L is made for young (and older) families who need some extra space for their lives and joys.
Just as the 600 Multipla was the forerunner of the concept of compact people carrier, the 500L is the new Fiat interpretation of the “Simply More” philosophy applied to the 'Multispace' concept.
Thierry Hubert, Director-General van Fiat Group Automobiles Belgium, presented the 500 L to the Belgian Press...
But the 500L reformulates the category of compact cars for the modern family in an emotional vein, because they developed some of the 500's stylistic details in hitherto unprecedented forms.
According to the latest research, 4.1 metres is the average length of cars sold in Europe. It is a size that allows you to travel and easily move around in traffic. The Fiat 500L is 4 metres and 15 centimetres long.
We photographed the 500 L in the classy inner court of the nearby Chateau Malou... later we tell you somewhat more about this magnificent building.
This is a mere 7 cm more than a Fiat Punto, but the good thing is that the Fiat 500L easily accommodates five passengers 2 meters tall with their five suitcases.
Suffice it to say that the Fiat 500L boasts the best passenger volume index in the segment: with front and rear volumes combined, passengers have a space of 3.17 cubic metres available.
The rear passenger compartment of the 500 L is very versatile...
The rear seats are longitudinally adjustable and can be folded separately to further increase rear passenger comfort. Then thanks to the 'Fold&Tumble' function it is also possible to completely tilt the rear seat forwards to get a totally flat load compartment.
Then there is Cargo Magic Space. This allows you to separate fragile objects from heavy ones, clean objects from dirty ones, and wet objects from dry ones in the luggage compartment. It is adjustable in three levels.
Eric Courtioux, Country Manager of the Fiat Brand commented on the appeal of the car to a large group of (new) customers, both young and old...
Let there be Light…
L also stands for Light. The 500 L is also designed to give you that feeling of 'lightness', actually nothing more or less than improving and simplifying your quality of life.
Innovation that is not an end in itself, but always to man's benefit.
This is not only the “open air” feeling one has in the car, but also the simplicity of use of the on-board technology of the new 500L .
The large center display really stands out...
An example? The 5" touchscreen of the 500L UConnect multimedia system, lets you manage all the major media content of the car such as radio, mobile phone, Media Player, iPod or smartphone, all rigorously wireless of course. Integrated navigation will also be offered soon, the factory tells us.
Charles Fuster, Product Manager of the 500 L explained in detail the special features of the car...
This new UConnect system lets you listen to classic or preferred radio through your smartphone. With it, you can make calls hands-free and listen to incoming SMS messages without taking your hands off the steering wheel thanks to the voice recognition function and the controls on the steering wheel.
A future development will also let the customer - through smartphone integration - use many apps on the on-board system in order to always be in contact with Facebook and Twitter friends or be updated in real time on traffic, news and weather.
Of course there is eco:Drive LIVE
It is also possible to view all the information supplied by the brand new eco:Drive LIVE software on the 5" touchscreen in real time. The software is the latest evolution of the eco-friendly application developed by Fiat in 2009.
The 105 HP 0.9 litre TwinAir really stands out in terms of economy and eco-friendliness...
Today there are already over 80,000 eco:Drive users. The system can analyse your driving style thanks to the data collected on the car and provide personalised suggestions in order to reduce up to 16% of fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.
With the 500L eco:Drive becomes LIVE, meaning you can receive feedback about your driving style in real time, thus attaining immediate fuel consumption and emission reductions. It is also possible to save the data of every journey on a compatible USB memory stick and smartphone. By analysing the results on a PC and receiving tailored driving lessons, emissions can be reduced up to 16%. Needless to say that we are eagerly looking forward to test all this in practice!
On getting acquainted with the car, I drove the 1,3 litre 85 HP 1.3 MultiJet 2 Diesel engine. What a marvellously smooth engine this is, vibrationless and silent. Pulling power is quite good, and the engine is not afraid of revving, but will potter along without any protest with very low revs on city lanes. It was coupled in our test car with an excellent 6 speed gearbox. There are also two petrol engines offered, the 105 HP 0.9 TwinAir and 95 HP 1.4 litre 4 cylinder. We drove already the TwinAir Turbo in the Punto, and we are very very impressed. Soon I will participate in an economy run with Fiat, Alfa and Lancia’s equipped with this very clever TwinAir engine from Brussels to Paris, and will report soon about it…
The big round dials are easy to read and have terrific looks...
Lofty feeling under a glass roof…
Designed by the Centro Stile Fiat which drew inspiration from the cab forward concept, actually a modern reinterpretation of a car concept designed to achieve greater external visibility and a large amount of internal light, the 500L has 360° glazing to ensure that its visibility is the best in class, increasing the sense of command of the road and making parking easier.
The glass roof - the largest in its category with a size of 1.5 square metres - floods the passenger compartment with plenty of light. It is available in two versions: electric roof or Skydome. Also the colour range, with no less than 11 body colours, is record-breaking for its segment. You get to have 333 possible combinations if 3 different roof colours, 4 trim levels (Pop, Pop Star, Easy and Lounge) and 3 alloy rim colours are added.
Personalize your 500 L
With this in mind, the “Lineaccessori” or accessories line for the new 500L designed by the Centro Stile Fiat. A range of more than 140 products will make you enjoy the 500 L even better.
The commands are intuitive and easy to use...
Just like you would expect from a home Hi-Fi system, for the first time in the Fiat Group the Fiat 500L offers a new premium sound system developed in collaboration with Beats Audio. The system exploits an advanced equalizer algorithm, creating a high definition and clean sound that the Beats founders (the artist and record producer Dr. Dre, the Interscope Geffen A&M Records chairman and record producer Jimmy Iovine) require in their recording studios.
Finally, another world premiere is the brand new coffee machine created in collaboration with Lavazza. The 500L is the first standard-production car in the world to offer a true espresso coffee machine that utilises the technology of the 'A Modo Mio' pods. It is perfectly integrated in the car with a deck designed expressly by Fiat. We would say, what are you waiting for?
Needless to say that we are eager to test this car further, but the first drive in Brusselswas already quite promising. The car feels quite roomy, offers excellent creature comfort and is mechanically wonderfully smooth. To be continued – look on this page for further test drives with the 500 L! We now let you further enjoy the photos…
Hans Knol ten Bensel