Fiat has released the first images and details of its forthcoming mini-MPV, the 500L. Various other names for the compact family car had been mooted, including Ellezero and 500 Multipla, but it's likely Fiat settled on 500L to retain an association with its highly successful small car.
Despite the name, the new car looks quite different to the cute and cuddly 500. In fact it's closer in concept to the new Fiat Panda. However, it's likely to be more expensive than that car and have even more space for small families. At 414cm long, 178cm wide and 166cm tall it's about 60cm longer, 16cm wider and 17cm taller than the 500. Fiat claims that it can seat five comfortably and also carry their luggage.
While the 500L takes over from the Idea mini-MPV, Fiat is positioning it as a mini-SUV too, so think of it as a crossover. Presumably that means an elevated driving position and upright seating. That'll be to the benefit of visibility and space while making it easier to get in and out of.
Three engines have been confirmed for the 500L so far, including the entry-level 1.4-litre petrol unit and a range of TwinAir options. Fiat will also offer the 1.3-litre MultiJet II diesel and there are hints of an Abarth version in time.
Following a world debut next month at the Geneva Motor Show the Fiat 500L will go into production in Serbia and goes on sale towards the end of 2012. Full pricing and specifications will be announced closer to that.
Shane O' Donoghue - 2 Feb 2012