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Fiat hopes North American drivers looking for a family-friendly version of its compact 500 will turn to the roomier 500L. Critics aren't so sure.
Fiat needs a hit in the United States. It brought us the Fiat 500 with a J-Lo ad campaign last year, but that struck a sour note and sales failed to meet expectations. It followed with a Cabrio variant and then the manlier Abath 500, which is currently being hawked by none other than a housebound Charlie Sheen. Next up: The 500L. Think of it as a really, really small SUV. It's also an answer to the Mini Countryman, just as the 500 echoes the look of the Mini Cooper.
The covers came off the 500L at the Geneva Auto Show last week. And the reaction? Meh. After eyeing the new rig, Autoblog says Fiat traded in too much of the 500's cuteness without adding enough utility. It's longer than the 500 (the L stands for long) but only longer enough so that it sports four doors instead of the 500's two doors. It's also half a foot wider. And seats for five passengers rather than four in the 500.
"It seems tall and teetering where the 500 hatch is planted and robust," says CarDesignNews. I concur. The 500L lost the signature look of the 500.
From a design perspective, the challenge Fiat faced was to make the interior feel as large and airy as possible, given the overall size of the vehicle. Toward this end, the company added a generous amount of glass. It has seamless glazing around the front and back pillars as well as the largest glass roof in its category, according to Fiat.
Drivers who are picky about colors will rejoice. The Fiat 500L will come with a mind-boggling 30 exterior paint choices.
The 500L will land first in Europe, during the fourth quarter, with the option of either a super-efficient TwinAir or 1.4-liter gas engine, or Fiat's 1.3 MultiJet II turbodiesel engine. Fiat has not yet said when it'll come to the North American market, other whether we'll have the turbodiesel (though that's doubtful). CNET's Brian Cooney hopes the 500L will come with something more robust than the 1.4-liter option, calling it barely enough for the 500.
Mar 12, 2012
As a Fiat Specialist we are getting a lot of great response about the 500 L. Looking forward to Nov. 28, 2012 Los Angeles Fiat product reveal. http://ask4rico.blogspot.com/2012/11/will-fiat-500-l-be-revealed-at-2012-los.html
I had a convertible fiat in the 80's; super car and sporty. When I heard that the Fiat was coming out then saw it no way was I interested. If they had followed the other car makers and used retro look with minor updates results may have been better.
Does anyone really think that this is J-Lo's dream car? I think it's the product of the politically correct idea that this is what everyone is supposed to want, and they'll even say they want it. But they really don't.
They have handling and acceleration that larger vehicle can't achieve in real driving and are cheap to run to boot (damned physics, eh?). Give me a four banger with a stick any day. I drool over the twin charged 500 super lagatta and I won't have to for long because it's affordable. I for one can't wait for real electric drives. Real rubber to the road power not the peak power fantasy numbers you get with combustive mechanicals, think train engine. They could fit under the average hood.