Fiat 500L (2012-2018) Review
The Fiat 500L is a low-cost, high-space people carrier, also available as the SUV 500L Cross and seven-seat 500L MPW
Strengths & weaknesses
- Spacious interior in small footprint
- Strong new car PCP finance deals
- Low cash prices for used car buyers
- Very limited engine range for new models
- Poor fuel economy from 95hp 1.4-litre petrol
- Tiny rearmost seats in seven-seat 500L MPW
This unusually styled people carrier packs a spacious, family-friendly interior into a medium hatchback-size body. The range consists of standard ‘Urban’ and taller 4x4-style ‘Cross’ versions, which feature chunky plastic trim. From 2013-2017 a longer, seven-seat 500L MPW model was also available.
With quirky styling and plenty of bright two-tone paint finishes, the 500L looks like an oversized caricature of the Fiat 500 city car, making it a more characterful alternative to compact people carriers like the Ford C-Max and Renault Scenic. It’s these looks that set the Fiat apart.
For that money you get tonnes of cabin storage, lots of room for rear passengers and plenty of standard kit, but one of the 500L’s big flaws is its limited engine range. There's only a single 1.4-litre petrol engine currently available with relatively poor fuel economy. The turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol and 1.6-litre diesel engines that came in older models suit this family car much better.
With the 500L dating all the way back to 2012, both fuel economy and performance from the current 1.4-litre engine are outclassed by Ford C-Max and Renault Scenic equivalents.
Tough competition also comes from the Fiat 500X off-roader, which features a desirable SUV look, plus similarly strong practicality – albeit with a smaller boot – and similar finance costs. Other SUV-like ‘crossovers’ including the Vauxhall Crossland X and Citroen C3 Aircross also challenge the 500L with their space, economical engines and value.
New car drivers after a low-cost, spacious, big-booted people carrier should be happy with the 500L, as should used car buyers after the biggest boot for the lowest cost. Those concerned with fuel economy, power or the latest kit, though, should consider the Citroen C3 Aircross, Fiat 500X and Ford C-Max.
|Boot size||412-455 litres|
|Tax||Tax: £530 first year tax, £145 thereafter|
Best Fiat 500L for...
Best for Economy – Fiat 500L 1.3 MultiJet 95hp Dualogic
The automatic gearbox boosts economy for the less-powerful diesel, meaning claimed fuel consumption of up to 72.4mpg, though you can expect to achieve less than this in the real world.
Best for Families – Fiat 500L MPW 1.6 MultiJet 120hp
More powerful diesel offers far greater low-down muscle than other 500L engines, making it better suited to the bulky seven-seat MPW model, though rear seats only usable for small children.
Best for Performance – Fiat 500L 1.6 MultiJet 120hp
This diesel may take longer to hit 62mph than the 120hp petrol, however, it offers greater muscle at low engine speeds, making it feel faster in reality.
One to Avoid – Fiat 500L 1.4 95hp
Non-turbocharged petrol offers very little power at low engine speeds, meaning you will have to work it hard when accelerating and it’s likely to struggle if you regularly carry many passengers or heavy loads.
2012: Prices announced.
2013: 500L launched in Pop Star and Easy trims. Higher specification Lounge added. Engines include 95hp 1.4-litre petrol, 105hp turbocharged 0.9-litre petrol, 85hp 1.3-litre diesel, 105hp 1.6-litre diesel with off-road style Trekking version and seven-seat 500L MPW later added.
2014: New 120hp turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol and 1.6-litre diesels added. 500L Beats Edition, based on Trekking model launched, featuring upgraded Beats Audio system.
2017: 500L facelifted to become 500L Urban. Off-road 500L Cross launched to replace Trekking, with 95hp and 120hp 1.4-litre petrol engines plus 95hp 1.3- and 120hp 1.6-litre diesels. Recall issued in December for pre-2018 models to address supplementary heater wiring issues that could cause an electrical short circuit
2018: 500L MPW withdrawn from sale. 500L Mirror model released, featuring standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. 500L range cut down to people carrier-style 500L Urban and 4x4-style 500L Cross – both featuring 95hp 1.4-litre petrol engine.
Understanding Fiat 500L names
Trim Urban look
Fiat has split the 500L range into people carrier-style Urban models and off-road-style 500L Cross versions. 500L MPW and 500L Wagon names refer to seven-seat versions previously available while S-Design trim on the Cross adds a sportier look. City Cross, meanwhile sits between Cross and Urban models with higher ground clearance but little of the Cross’s tough 4x4 look.
Engine 1.4 16v 95hp
The 500L has one engine – a non-turbocharged 1.4-litre with 95hp. As it lacks a turbocharger, you’ll have to work the engine harder than rival models for brisk acceleration, especially as 95hp isn’t much for a people carrier. MultiJet highlights diesel versions, while T-Jet designates turbocharged petrol models previously available.
Only a six-gear manual gearbox is currently available, though a Dualogic automatic option was previously available on the 95hp diesel.