Fiat is pumping up the volume with a new special edition version of the 500L that is wired for sound writes Hannah Gordon
What is it? Fiat have taken the Fiat 500 styling, added a shot of miracle grow and come up with a MPV based on the popular 500. But the trekking model is 10% higher than the regular 500L, it also sports bulkier bumpers and terrain tyres for the more adventurous souls. This limited edition also comes with a Beats audio system for the really rebellious.
Who is it aimed at? Not an easy question, the Fiat 500L Trekking is marketed as a small MPV that should appeal to families who want the space and practicality of an MPV but with the Italian chic styling that Fiat have incorporated. The Trekking is for people who might have a soggy mud track driveway but may also need to venture into towns and cities taking advantage of the city steering button. But this Beats edition also gives it a young and unruly side that may appeal to young families.
Styling? Loosely based on the Fiat 500, the 500L tries to maintain the cute Italian styling, but it hasn’t been that easy, the 500L and the word cute don’t really go in the same sentence. Its a bit of a marmite car, plenty of people who have seen it haven’t liked the styling but others have championed the Trekking Beats edition matt paint work and sportier looking appearance. The big Fiat has similar style rounded headlights and kind of retains the bubble shape but on a much bigger scale. The Trekking’s larger bumper mouldings make it look more beefy, and certainly catch the eye compared to the much plainer standard 500L.
Under the bonnet? The car I tested had the 4 cylinder 1.6 litre turbo diesel with a top speed of 117 mph and a 0-62mph time of 10.7 seconds, so the Fiat is near identical to its nearest rival the Mini Countryman. The engine makes progress smartly and is best when driven in the higher rev range, I found that the engine struggles at the lower range and sounded harsh. The six speed gearbox is smooth and makes progressing effortless. The test car came with the increased power of 120 bhp, but there’s also a 105bhp version
What about inside? The main selling point of the Fiat 500L is the styling, and this continues into the cabin. There’s a huge amount of space inside, head room is excessive and the seats are marginally more comfortable than the Fiat 500. All controls are easily accessible and seem good quality. The Beats edition includes black leather seats with red stitching and of course the Beats audio system. Being a massive fan of music and enjoying some ear splitting bass this sound system really does make sense, especially with the added extra of the DAB radio. The main purpose of this vehicle is its cabin space, the boot has an impressive maximum capacity of 1300 litres. There are a few problems with the cabin though, The steering wheel does obscure part of the dials and its not easy to use cruise control in the position it occupies.
On the road? I was imagining a wallowing and spongy ride from the 500L Trekking, especially with its increased ride height. But it certainly isn’t like that, the engine pulls well, the steering really comes into its own around towns, although pushing it through corners on the country roads can make the steering feel indecisive. The Traction + button allows greater driving ability in inclement weather and the higher ride height gives better road clearance on uneven ground. The Trekking is fitted with mud and snow tyres that can become an irritant at high speeds for long periods of time.
Safety? Equipped with a host of safety features including Electronic Stability Control, Hill Holder, ABS, Electronic Rollover Mitigation, Driver Steering Torque, Brake Assist System and City Brake Control fitted as standard the Fiat 500L also has 6 airbags and an NCAP rating of 5 stars.
Options? The Fiat 500L Trekking Beats Edition comes with a lot of kit as standard, but the options that are well worth looking into are the DAB touch screen navigation at £500 and the rear view parking camera at £270. The electric sunroof is a costly extra at £950 whereas a glass roof is £550.
Will it break the bank? On paper the 500L seems very competitive, with a combined 60mpg and CO2 emissions of around 125 it makes it an ideal family edition. I was getting a mpg figure in the high 40’s and that will surely improve once the engine is more run in.
Verdict? From the outset the Fiat 500L Trekking Beats Edition is a statement car, it sits in a small niche market of groovy parents looking for a car with space, but with as much character as a Disney performer. Its a car that brings fun to the normal hum drum of the school run and that will provide a safe spacious platform for the little nippers. Fiat have been clever in using the hugely successful Fiat 500 styling and making it more user friendly. There are of course some flaws with this car but to be honest they are quickly forgotten about or lived with. The price however may be less easier to stomach, starting at £21,790 its extremely pricey, and the car i got for testing with options was over £23,000. But the car looks fantastic, has a great sound system and could lead to a priceless tag of being the coolest mummy at school.
Why you’ll buy one? Quirky; Styling; Spacious
Why you won’t? Expensive;
MINI Countryman– prices starting from £17,105
Fiat 500L Trekking Beats Edition
Max speed: 117 mph
0-62 mph: 10.7 seconds
Emissions: 120 g/km
Price Range from ₤17,650 (Beats edition starts at £21,640)
No of Doors: 5
Euro NCAP : 5 stars
Fuel type: Diesel
Fuel Economy (combined cycle): 61.4 mpg
Boot Capacity Seats up: 400 litres
Length: 4147 mm
Width: 1784 mm
Height: 1667 mm
Wheelbase: 2612 mm
7th April, 2015