Fiat 500L Review

Dan Harrison

Written by

Dan Harrison

Fiat 500L
Fiat 500L

1/10

1 / 10

00/10
heycar rating
"Practical and affordable small MPV"
  • Launched: 2013
  • MPV
  • Petrol, Diesel

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Quick overview

Pros

  • Spacious and practical interior
  • Cheap to buy and run
  • Five star Euro NCAP safety rating

Cons

  • Cabin feels cheap in places
  • Lacks refinement
  • Not the best looker around...

Overall verdict

On the inside

Driving

Cost to run

Prices and Specs

Overall verdict on the Fiat 500L

"There's no doubt that the 500L fills a gap in Fiat's line-up and gives buyers something that they've been crying out for: a Fiat 500 that's fit for family life. If you can live with the looks, then this is a good value family car."

Fiat 500L Driving

Fiat is good at small cars. Very good in fact. It's been doing it for years and built up a reputation for making them with flair. The Punto has been Fiat's long-running success story in recent history, while in the past few years it's been the Panda and 500 which have been flying out of the showrooms.


But when it comes to comes to those that are a bigger, it doesn't matter how good or bad they are, they just don't capture buyers' imaginations. See Fiat Croma for details...


So it came up with a brilliant wheeze – why not make everything a small car? Or, at least sound like it is. The first of these is was this, the 500L. It takes styling cues from the dinky 500 hatch, but underneath is a fundamentally different car and built in a different factory.


Fiat want you to think of it as a filled-out five-door family version of the 500, which it does an admirable job of. But you have to wonder what part marketing has played – would it be as eagerly-awaited if it was differently styled and called something else?


But it's not and the result is a charming family-size car that's more distinctive than many of the me-too mini MPVs out there. Size-wise it's a bit of an inbetweener. At almost 4.2 metres long it's significantly larger than the 500, but not as long as the Punto. It seats five in some comfort and feels very roomy – especially so when there's a panoramic glass roof fitted, though this is a £500 option on Pop Star and Easy.

What’s the best Fiat 500L model/engine to choose?

Unless you intend to cover big mileages each year, we'd suggest sticking with a petrol 500L. The 1.4-litre is smooth and quiet so would be our choice and there are plenty around on the used market. Avoid the basic Pop models and look for a Pop Star or even better, a Lounge model.


The model range was later simplified to Urban, City Cross and Cross, with the City Cross representing the best value for money of the three.

What other cars are similar to the Fiat 500L?

Whether it's labelled as a crossover or an MPV, the Fiat 500L remains a good value and practical family car. It's that which means it rivals the likes of the equally style driven Citroen C4 Cactus, the rather more restrained Ford C-MAX and the family friendly Vauxhall Crossland X.


Other Fiat 500L rivals include crossovers like the Suzuki SX4 S-Cross, which likes the Fiat, majors on value and the popular Skoda Yeti.

Comfort and design: Fiat 500L interior

"The driving position in the Fiat 500L is good, the seat highly adjustable and all that glass means excellent all-round visibility."

Fiat 500L Interior

Even standard cars have a large glazed areas and a split windscreen pillar that help to contribute to a light and airy feeling.  The rotary controls on the dash that control the heating are easy to use on the move and the large touch-screen sat nav/infotainment system is clear and well placed – there's no need to take your eyes off the road to view it.

Quality and finish

Inside it's clean and functional, with the emphasis on making this family-proof, rather than cutesy like the 500. That means that the interior is much more like the Panda with harder-wearing plastics, though in this case colour is added with bright inserts. 

Space and practicality: Fiat 500L boot space

There's plenty of flexibility in the rear, where it's possible to slide the seats for extra legroom (or boot space) or fold them forward to create a bigger cargo area. Standard boot space is 343 litres, but fold and tumble the seats and there's 1310 litres on offer. As you'd expect there are plenty of storage bins dotted around the cabin too.

Handling and ride quality: What is the Fiat 500L like to drive?

"The 500L can't match the dimunitive Fiat 500 in the handling stakes, but it does a good job for an MPV and is very comfortable, making it ideal as a long distance family car."

Fiat 500L Back Seat

Out on the road, the 500L handles rather tidily for a car of this size. The ride is well controlled (better in fact than the standard 500) and it does an admirable job of soaking up lumps and bumps, while still retaining composure when pushed through corners. The steering is light which, although welcome when parking, can feel rather artificial at higher speeds.

What engines and gearboxes are available in the Fiat 500L?

All the engines in the Fiat 500L are designed for low running costs rather than performance. A 0.9-litre TwinAir petrol with 105PS, a 1.4-litre petrol with 95PS plus diesels, the 1.3-litre MultiJet that develops 85PS and larger 1.6-litre MultiJet with 105PS.


When fitted with the top 1.6 MultiJet, the 500L gets from 0-62mph in 11.3 seconds and has a top speed of 112mph. In reality, it feels much quicker out of the blocks and pulls sweetly between 1750rpm and 2500rpm. It's no slouch when it comes to overtaking either, though under heavy acceleration its refinement can let it down. Elsewhere it's a different story and while there's still noticeable wind and road noise, it's not intrusive and the 500L cruises well.


Many buyers will be tempted by the petrol-powered 500L TwinAir. And with good reason: it's cheaper than equivalent 1.6-litre MultiJet and offers better official fuel consumption and emissions. But the 58.9mpg figure should be taken with a pinch of salt if the 500L follows the same pattern as the 500. TwinAir 500s achieve just 70% of the official economy figure.


We’d advise avoiding the Dualogic automatic gearbox. It’s an automated manual that may improve fuel efficiency - it’s effectively a manual gearbox but with the changes performed by software - but it’s slow-witted and frustrating.

Safety equipment: How safe is the Fiat 500L?

Impressively, the Fiat 500L was awarded the maximum five star Euro NCAP safety rating when it was tested in 2012. Adult occupant safety was rated a very high 94% with child safety 78% and pedestrian safety 65%. It also scored well for safety assist with a 71% rating.

MPG and fuel costs: What does a Fiat 500L cost to run?

"The Fiat 500L is a car designed to be cheap to run, which is reflected in its frugal engines, especially the economical 1.3-litre diesel."

Fiat 500L Side

While it may promise close to 70mpg, in reality you can expect to see a genuine 55mpg from the 1.3 Multijet, which is still a very strong figure and means plenty of miles between fill ups. The more powerful 1.6-litre diesel should still be good for 50mpg.


If it's petrol you want, the 0.9 Twinair should see around 40mpg in real world driving while the 1.4-litre is good for 35mpg+. 

How much should you be paying for a Fiat 500L?

"Prices for used Fiat 500L models start at around £4000, although these tend to be diesels with above average mileages."

Fiat 500L Back

If you're after a petrol, we recommend the 1.4-litre, a budget of £5000 to £5500 should give you plenty of choice, although bear in mind that the 500L was not a big a seller as the Fiat 500 or 500X, so if you may have to be patient if you're after a specific trim or colour.

Trim levels and standard equipment

Despite Pop models missing the alloy wheels and air conditioning - essential for resale desirability - they’re otherwise well equipped, including Fiat’s five-inch touchscreen media system, Bluetooth and leather covering for the comically large (and not too comfortable to hold) gear knob.


Move up to Pop Star trim and comfort improves by way of air con and cruise control. Plus you get a set of 16-inch alloys, underwhelming as they look in the 500L’s massive arches. Lounge specification does feel like it has a lot, bumping the air con up to dual-zone climate control, adding rear parking sensors, automatic lights and wipers and a panoramic sunroof that genuinely lifts cabin ambience with natural light.


Lounge cars also get two small tables for rear seat passengers, which are a nice idea in theory but in reality are too flimsy to be of much real use. There isn’t a mass of interior storage in any version of the 500L either, with no central storage box, quite small door pockets and a shallow glove box.


Fiat sees the 500L Trekking as a model in its own right, but it’s loosely based on the Lounge specification with a couple of notable additions – like low speed automatic braking (optional elsewhere) and a more sophisticated traction control system that alludes to off-road ability. The 17-inch alloys come shod in mud and snow tyres as standard, for the same reason, and the interior fabric is different.


The Beats version is based on the Trekking, and comes, as you’d expect, with an upgraded stereo – albeit a disappointingly lacklustre one, when a decent sound system is the very least you could expect.

Fiat 500L cars for sale on heycar

976
Number of cars available
£8.3K - £18K
Price bracket of these cars
BlueBlack+ 4 more
Colours available on heycar
5 doors
Door options available

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