Fiat has growing family in the 500
14:39 06 May 2014
Coffee for seven? Motoring editor Andy Russell drinks to the latest member of Fiat’s growing 500 family.
Fiat 500L MPW
Price: 500L MPW 1.6 MultiJet Pop Star five-seat, £18,290 (range £15,795 to £19,790, add £700 for seven-seat option)
Engine: 1,598cc, 105hp, four-cylinder turbo diesel
Performance: 0-62mph 11.8 seconds; top speed 112mph
MPG: Urban 52.3; extra urban 72.4; combined 62.8
CO2 emissions: 117g/km
Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 18%
Insurance group: 17 (out of 50)
Warranty: Three years or 60,000 miles
Will it fit in the garage? Length 4,352mm; width (excluding door mirrors) 1,784mm; height 1,667mm
Fiat’s original 500 was nicknamed Topolino – Italian for ‘little mouse’ – but maybe the new range should be called Topsy because, like the girl in the book Uncle Tom’s Cabin, it keeps growing... in size and number.
The 500 family has grown into a brand in its own right – a hugely-popular one and a big seller.
It started with the revival of the 500 hatchback, based on a Panda city car, which was soon joined by the 500C convertible. The family expanded with the larger 500L multi-purpose vehicle, with the 500 styling cues and character, aimed at growing families and 500L Trekking with chunkier crossover styling.
Now the 500L has been joined by the MPW version, after another growth spurt. It’s 20cm longer – all of it boot – and has space for two extra seats, as a £700 option on all but the entry model. It makes the 500L MPW the most compact 5+2-seater in its segment at 4,352mm long although the rearmost seats which fold out of the boot floor are suitable only for small children.
It’s other claim to fame is that it can be equipped with a coffee machine! The £200 optional Lavazza coffee-maker plugs into the back of the centre console – put some water into it, pop in a coffee pods, start the engine and a couple of minutes later you have a shot of espresso – more tasty talking point than trend-setter.
Even without those optional seats, the 500L MPW has much to offer when it comes to carrying capacity with a loadbay to rival and be a credible alternative to a traditional C-segment estate.
The styling might not be to everyone’s taste – the front clearly says 500 but the 500L and MPW are more about capacity than cuteness.
The MPW certainly measures up with a load capacity of up to 638 litres in five-seat mode and 1,708 litres with the rear seats folded, impressive given its compact dimensions and the fact it is at least 20cm shorter than a mid-size family estate car which will pay dividends when looking for an on-street parking space. The deep boot has a removable floor panel which can be positioned at sill level or higher up to give a two-tier load bay so separating heavy and light items – a boon to stop fruit being turned into a smoothie on the way home from the supermarket!
Rear seats slide back and forth to boost versatility by varying load space and legroom in the back and that is vital to make getting in and out of and actually being able to sit in those optional extra two seats in the boot. Unfortunately the rear seat splits 60/40 rather than being three individual sliding seats as is the case in many rivals. And when you fold the rear seat backs down there is a big step up from the boot floor and then the seats have to be tumbled upright to open up maximum space which makes it feel a little dated compared to some slick competitors where all the seats fold down to create a long flat load floor. At least there is a compartment to store the tonneau cover when not in use.
The MPW uses the 1.4-litre and 0.9-litre turbo TwinAir petrol engines and 1.3 and 1.6-litre turbo diesels, the latter returned 50-55mpg and has decent urgency but is not the most refined.
The ride is a little bouncy in the back, not helped by flat back seats, and it handles competently but push hard through corners and body roll builds.
The interior features a lot of hard plastic but it is durable and easy to clean and the fascia driver-friendly.
The 500 MPW is not going to be a big seller for Fiat but it will help with brand loyalty and customer retention with 500 fans who want to stay part of the family as their family grows.