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The Warsaw Voice » Society » May 28, 2013
Fiat 500L 1.4 Pop Star
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Family Friendly
May 28, 2013   
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This minivan is not only original in style, but also handles well and has a surprisingly spacious and functional interior.

When my four-year-old daughter saw the car for the first time, she started jumping up and down and applauding. I don’t know if all children will react so spontaneously upon seeing the Fiat 500L, but I’m pretty sure many of them will give it a broad smile. And no wonder. The Fiat looks very much like an oversized toy car, and its round headlights and “smiling” grille immediately make you think of animated cartoons for children.

This remarkable design is by far the most distinctive feature of the car. In addition, you can freely customize it by combining different exterior colors with three roof colors (white, black and body color), three wheel designs and 140 kinds of accessories. In fact, you can configure this Fiat into a remarkable 333 combinations. This car cannot go unnoticed. Some like it, others don’t, but it won’t leave you indifferent.

The Fiat 500L was unveiled during the Geneva Motor Show in the spring of last year. The name “500L” is a bit misleading. The letter “L” suggests that it is an enlarged version of the popular “500.” However, from a technical point of view, these two models have nothing in common. The Fiat 500L is the official successor to the Idea minivan and was built on the basis of the Punto platform. The result? Thanks to its long 2,612 mm wheelbase, and despite its compact external dimensions (4,147 mm in length, 1,784 mm in width and 1,658 mm in height), the designers have come up with a very large passenger cabin. The car can comfortably seat five travelers. It has a 400-liter luggage compartment that can be expanded to 1,310 liters with the back seats folded down. Interestingly, thanks to a few ingenious solutions, you can freely arrange the interior of the cabin or the luggage compartment. For example, the split rear benchseat can be moved 15 centimeters depending on whether you want to have a larger trunk or more legroom for passengers in the back. There are also hooks for mounting ISOFIX child seats. Another useful option is the fold-down front seat. Thanks to that you can carry items that are up to 2,400 mm long. In turn, the Cargo Magic Space system is nothing other than a movable rear shelf, which divides the trunk in a number of ways depending on the need. Simple, isn’t it?

A range of gasoline and diesel engines is available to power the car. The test-drive model was fitted with a 1.4-liter/95 hp gasoline unit.

The bad news is that this engine hardly makes the Fiat a speed demon. It takes an agonizing 12.4 seconds to hit 100 kph from standstill and has a top speed of just 178 kph—not only because the unit delivers only 127 Nm at 4,500 rpm, but also because the car weighs a hefty 1,245 kg and is shaped like a box, which increases air resistance.

On the plus side, the engine may be a poor performer, but it works smoothly and fuel economy is another selling point of the Fiat: during the test-drive, I managed to use up just 6.2 liters per 100 km, close to what the manufacturer promises.

The Fiat 500L is especially worth recommending to young families. Despite a few flaws—in addition to poor engine performance—such as a driving position that is too high, the over-eager power steering and the imprecise (to put it mildly) transmission, the car has many undeniable pluses. The kids will love its “bumper car” appearance and moms will be able to transport their children safely and comfortably, while being able to fit just about everything they need (and don’t need) into it. And the dads? Well, driving a car like this will rein in any frustrated ambitions to be a Formula 1 driver. It could even improve their relationship with their partner or wife, whom they will no longer be able to scold for being rough with the gears.
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