More Room, Less Style Than City Car.
No All-Wheel Drive, But Looks As Though It Might Go Off-Road.
City Brake Control Cuts Accidents, Gives You Lower Insurance Costs.
Wouldn’t You Want An Espresso Machine On Board?
For – more utility than 500
Against – at price of ruined looks
**** out of five
Fiat is cleverly building on the success of the cute little 500, the retro-styled city-car, by offering bigger four-door versions labeled “L” for Living. (not Long, as I’d mistakenly assumed.)
Now Fiat has added the Trekking and the MPW (Multi-Purpose Vehicle), and the first thing you’ll notice is that how the bigger girth and dimensions completely undermines the cute factor. To avoid any accusations of sexism I won’t make the obvious comparison with any Italian institutions. Mind you, the MPW replaces the Multipla, which reached new highs of in yer face ugliness, so perhaps I should give a little credit.
The 500L Trekking has a distinctively rugged look. It’s higher than the 500L and has a special traction system to at least mitigate the fact that it’s not four-wheel drive. If you’re gagging for a four-wheel drive 500, there’s one coming next year called the 500X. If you’re holding your breath for a new and restyled Bravo or Punto, give yourself a break because there’s no sign on the horizon. They may have breathed their last.
The 500L Trekking sits at the top of the 500L range, above the Pop Star, Easy and Lounge models. It includes features such as cruise control and touch-screen infotainment. The 500L Trekking is the first Fiat to feature City Brake Control as standard. This system prevents or lessens damage in low-speed collisions by automatically applying the brakes using laser beams. You get a big insurance premium reduction, so this is no gimmick. The Trekking also has Traction+, which improves grip off-road.
There are four engines; two petrol and two diesel. The 0.9 litre TwinAir Turbo 105 hp and 1.4 95 hp FIRE engine are the petrol pair. The 1.4 starts the range at £17,095 while the TwinAir is priced at £18,590. In the diesel corner, Fiat’s MultiJet II technology appears in 1.3-litre 85 hp and 1.6-litre 105 hp formats. The 1.3 MultiJet is priced from £18,590, with the 1.6 MultiJet from £19,590. All engines apart from the 1.4 petrol feature Start/Stop. The 1.3 MultiJet with a five-speed Dualogic automatic gearbox is priced at £19,490. This is one to avoid. The automatic system feels like a semi-automated manual which gasps and rests between gear changes. It will drive you mad. Don’t go for it.
The 500L Trekking sits 10 per cent higher than the regular 500L, while grippy Mud & Snow tyres complete the package. Standard equipment includes air conditioning, 5” touchscreen radio with Bluetooth, and Cruise Control – already standard on other Fiat 500L variants – plus 17” alloy wheels, dark tinted windows, City Brake Control and Traction+. There’s a sliding 60/40 split rear seat with space for three passengers. The rear seat boasts the Fold & Tumble function, which gives a perfectly flat load space from the tailgate to the rear of the front seats. When paired with the folding front seat, the 500L Trekking can carry loads of up to 2.4 m in length. That’s almost eight feet. Rear parking sensors are standard.
Espresso on board
Media players and phones can be connected via Bluetooth, as well as through the USB port or the AUX-IN socket. An optional satellite navigation system can also be specified to operate with Uconnect.
You can specify an espresso coffee machine fully integrated into the centre console, in collaboration with Lavazza.
The MPW is a bit longer than the Trekking and has a 638-litre boot. There’s an optional third row of seats giving a five-plus-two layout. You can carry seven, have a massive load area, or a combination of the two. A choice of three engines is offered with the 500L MPW: the 0.9 TwinAir Turbo 105hp petrol unit, plus the 1.3 and 1.6 MultiJet II diesels offering 85hp and 105hp. The 1.3 is also available with that awful five-speed automatic. The 500L MPW has a more rugged suspension.
Both the Trekking and MPW have compelling cases to buy, although the prices look a little steep to me. But given that you can probably get discounts of up to 20 per cent, official prices are mere opening gambits these days. Given that most modern cars are hard to fault in terms of design and reliability, I might have to fall back on my old standby; if you’re choosing a car, you might as well opt for the nearest dealership (excluding French cars of course). It so happens that there’s a Fiat dealership about 500 yards from me. If I ever buy a new car, I’ll at least start there.
(Fiat provided hotel, train fare)
|Fiat 500L Trekking|
|Engine:||1.3 litre, four-cylinder diesel|
|Power:||85 hp @ 3,500|
|Torque:||200 Nm @ 1,500|
|Acceleration:||0-62 mph-100 km/h-15.3 seconds|
|Top Speed:||99 mph-160 km/h|
|Fuel Consumption:||claimed combined – 65.7 mpg-4.3 l/km|
|Emissions class:||Euro V|
|Competition:||Ford B-Max, Citroen C3 Picasso, Hyundai ix20 MPV|
|For:||more utility than 500|
|Against:||at price of ruined looks|