The FIAT 500L, Bigger, Improved And Ready For The US Market
Bigger Is Better? In essence, the “L” in the 500L stands for 'Large', as you would have guessed. The new addition to the 500 range is meant to diversify the choice of versions, after a mouth watering Abarth and the Uber cute Cabrio. FIAT is taking a cue from the successful Mini that keeps on getting bigger and bigger to the point some have dubbed the newer 4 door 4WD the Maxi. But FIAT is also clearly doing everything it needs to have a successful US market penetration. By extending its offer with the introduction of various models, it will be in a position to satisfy the very different types of tastes potential customers have.
Differentiating the 500. The new Fiat 500 L tries to defy conventional distinctions between the various segments, traditional B and C, with MPV passenger space and the need of a small SUV. By combining all those characteristics, it aims to create a distinctive alternative with restrained dimensions and the efficiency of a B segment car.
Test Driving A 500 Sport. I was able to test drive a Sport and found it to be very enjoyable. Surprisingly enough, the little 1.4L was zippy with enough oomph to get you in and out of trouble in most traffic conditions. While I feel carmakers shouldn’t rebrand old classics with newer platforms, such as BMW’s Mini or VW Beetle, the 500’s parentage stops at its aesthetics. The driving position is high, enough to make those wary of driving small cars feel they are perched high. The gearbox wasn’t the smoothest, but the stick shift was where we’ve come to expect it from the Italians, right where your right falls. The car handled very well all in all, and considering its price it’s packs a lot of bang for the bucks.
Technically Speaking. This 500 L is a real 5-seater based on an elongated platform of 13.5 feet long by 5.8 wide and 5.4 high, slightly more than the original, which will be enough to accommodate our market’s unique needs.
The 500L will be introduced in Europe last quarter of 2012. We can guestimate its introduction on US soil the following year. In the meantime, I am still waiting for the electric version which should provide good competition for the Mitsubishi I and the electric Smart. Ma que bella machina la Fiat 500L!