While at an exclusive preview event of the new Fiat 500L in Turin last week, head of Fiat Group design Roberto Giolito exclusively revealed that the 500 family will continue to grow. But before we see the expected SUV model the 500L will also spawn another variation - a seven-seat model set to take the junior MPV world by storm.
Giolito told Car Enthusiast that the new model will be 20cm longer than the standard car, but all of the extra length will be in the rear overhang, not the wheelbase. Having invested so heavily in this car's new platform and body shell it was decided that it would be more cost effective to simply extend the rear, allowing it to keep the doors of the standard model. Like the five-seat derivative, the middle row of seats can be slid fore and aft before being tumbled forward into the floor. The pair of chairs behind will also tumble forward into the floor, leaving a completely flat load space - though none of the seats can be easily removed from the vehicle.
In the beginning, the next 500 model was to be an estate in the mould of the 1960 Giardiniera but this was discounted for being a niche too far. And though the 500L was inspired by both the original and 1998 Multipla, each of which accommodated six people, Fiat's designers told us they always intended the 500L to offer five and seven seats only. All of this despite Giolito clearly being proud of the innovative interior solutions offered by the latest Multipla - a project he was the leader of.
Graeme Lambert - 26 Apr 2012