Fiat 500L test drive

24 October, 2013 | by Calvin Fisher

Fiat’s just released their fun little big car, the 500L. It’s not a five door version 500 as you’d imagine, rather a compact MPV looking thing. Think of it as a Citroen C3 Picasso rival, with similar amounts of quirk but with the cheeky 500 visage grafted onto it.

Sadly, some of that quirk gets lost in the translation, with practicality filtering through to the point where it all feels a bit normal. You could sum the 500L up quite neatly as a five door hatchback with a tall ceiling, sort of like a Panda then but marginally larger and cuter. A Giant Panda then.

You can have your 500L in two derivatives, a 1.4 litre petrol (70kW) or a 1.6 turbodiesel (77kW). Both take around 12 seconds to accelerate to 100kph and both make do with a six speed manual transmission. The petrol 500L comes in two flavour, Easy at R232 990 and Lounge at R247,990.

The diesel version (Lounge) can be yours for R278 990 and that’s hardly cheap, but style isn’t meant to be cheap is it. On the base model you’ll find 16” steel wheels shod with hubcaps (not so stylish) with the Lounge models boasting 16”alloy hoops, with an optional 17”alloy available.

The ride is smooth thanks to Koni shocks at each corner of its (McPherson upfront, torsion beam rear) suspension, while steering is light. Not light enough? A CITY button on the dash, once thumbed, will make it even lighter till you feel as though you’re twirling feathers between your fingers, if you like that sort of thing.

The interior is pleasant and absolutely flooded with cheery sunlight thanks to a 1.5m long panoramic sunroof, while toys include a six speaker audio multimedia system. Peace of mind comes in the shape of a host of safety systems (ABS, EBD, Hill Start, Rear Park Assist etc) and then there’s the 6 airbags ready to punch you to safety should one of the aforementioned systems not have the dexterity to keep you on the tarmac.

Add to that Fiat’s 3 year / 100 000km maintenance plan (included) and its fair to say that the 500L becomes a fairly decent ownership prospect. But at this price, get it only if you really like it.

Read a comprehensive first drive review in the December issue of TopGear magazine South Africa.


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