Perhaps what really stands about this compact car is just how much people room there is inside…
The Fiat 500 is cute but might not be the most practical choice as a family vehicle.
Sure, it has room for four, a peppy personality (even with its base 101 horsepower engine,) but accessing the rear seats isn’t the easiest and the cargo room is minimal.
Enter the all-new-for-2014 Fiat 500L: The “L” stands for “large” so those interior volume deficiencies listed with its pint-sized sibling are no more.
Dimensionally, the L is 27 inches longer, 6 inches taller in height and in width and there’s an extra 42 percent when it comes to inside space.
But wait, there’s more. Literally.
The L comes with two additional doors to allow for easy access to the rear seats. And room for five passengers.
It loses a little bit of its pinch-the-cheeks cuteness but its practicality makes up for it.
In the driver’s seat, you have an almost unadulterated outward visibility. The 500L features a segment-exclusive glass from the A- to D-pillars that provide nearly 360-degree panoramic views.
Parking is easy because you can pretty much see out of all four corners. And the 500L – even with its “large” designation – still fits comfortably into urban settings.
Driving the 500L, I noticed it doesn’t have quite the same amount of panache as the 500 Turbo. Granted, it’s a heavier vehicle.
But to still keep some of the driving fun behind the wheel, Fiat has outfitted it with a 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo engine that provides 160 horsepower, 184 lb-ft. of torque.
It’s also is available with two transmission options. Firstly, there’s a 6-speed manual. Then there’s an available 6−Speed Euro Twin Clutch “automatic.” The latter of the two costs an additional $1,450 and came equipped on my 500L Lounge trim.
To be honest, this dual clutch transmission was my least favourite part of the vehicle. It felt as though the gearing was off or it had some sort of gremlin inside causing a raucous to disturb the smooth functionality of what I would have expected.
On the flip side, there’s nothing that I felt was fundamentally wrong with it. The transmission changed gears, got the car moving and did exactly what it was supposed to do. It also just felt weird/awkward to me and unlike any other dual clutch transmission, I’ve operated. Perhaps it is one of those features I would just need to get used to over time but our time together wasn’t long enough for me to embrace its quirks!
There were, however, other highlights of the 500L.
The Lounge trim comes standard with leather trimmed bucket seats and front heated seats, perfect for those chilly mornings.
An upgraded item that was optioned on the L was the Uconnect system with a 6.5-inch screen (the standard is a 5-inch screen) complete with Bluetooth, Sirius satellite radio and a Beats Premium Audio System ($500.) If you’re a music lover, this is a great to add to a Fiat.
Besides, I find that the Uconnect media interface is one of the most intuitive infotainment systems to work with in the industry.
Electronic Stability Control (ESC) Hill Start Assist and 4−Wheel ABS brakes are part of its DNA along with a ParkView rear back−up camera, dual zone climate controls and steering wheel mounted audio controls.
When cruising along at highway speeds, road noise is kept to a minimum, which allowed me to enjoy the music via the Beats stereo system a little more.
In corners, the 500L doesn’t have as tight of a setup as the 500, so don’t push it too hard since body roll is more evident.
Perhaps what really stands about this compact car is just how much people room there is inside. I never felt cramped nor did my passengers. Not to mention the 633L (22.4 cubic feet) of storage behind the second row seats.
The MSRP of the 2014 Fiat 500L Lounge is $25,995. With the options and destination, the price as tested comes to $30,850.
Visit www.fiatcanada.com for more information