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Sunday, 18 November 2018
I HAVE never been a great fan of that well-worn phrase “we are getting on with it” — probably because I associate those words with politicians who usually mean the opposite.
Cynically, with a politician we might interpret the phrase to mean that he or she is actually getting nothing done at all.
But you could apply the phrase with confidence to the car maker Fiat because that to my mind is exactly what it does.
For generations now, the Italian car maker has been getting on with the daily job of manufacturing practical — and often stylish — cars for everyday motoring.
In the case of the Fiat 500L that I have been driving this week, a milestone was reached last month.
The 500,000th Fiat 500L rolled off the production line at a plant in Kragujevac, Serbia. The landmark car was a 500L Cross 1.6 MultiJet 120hp in Sicilian Orange, with black roof, the same livery as the test car I have been driving.
The 500L range includes three versions, each with its own specific equipment: the Cross with its crossover looks, 25mm more ground clearance and Mode Selector; the Urban, which is designed for city living; and the Wagon, which is available with seven seats.
I have been at the wheel of the Fiat 500L 1.6 MultiJet 120hp Cross, which bears all the hallmarks Fiat is famous for, from its tough, workaday engine — in this case a 1,598cc power plant — to its practical, roomy interior and styling.
I have heard it said that the 500L looks like a 500 — the car maker’s perfect jewel in the crown — on steroids, but that becomes irrelevant when you get behind the wheel.
Actually, one of the first things to enjoy about the 500L, as opposed to the soaraway success of its 500 sibling, is that this car has for a supposedly small vehicle a great road presence.
On the road you are immediately aware that it is capable of running along shoulder to shoulder with large SUVs (sport utility vehicles).
Launched in 2012, the 500L has climbed to the top of its marketing segment in Europe for the past five years and become a top seller in both Italy and Spain.
The model was refreshed in 2017, helping it to grab a segment share of 22 per cent in Europe, and over 52 per cent in Italy.
Sales for the first months of 2018 appear equally positive. In Europe, they were up five per cent year on year, while in Italy the market share was more than 50 per cent in its segment.
The refreshed Fiat 500L’s main attraction is that for the price — the test car came in at a total of £24,020 with options fitted — you get a lot of car.
And we are back to that practical note, because not only is the latest version more spacious, it also packs a lot of technology into its relatively small frame.
The practical Fiat design touches, include “cinema-style” rear seats and an invention called Cargo Magic Space which offers multi-level boot space.
The current 500L’s range means that the consumer can choose the one to suit his or her requirements. The three-version range is completed by the new 500L Mirror special series with UconnectTM LINK technology as standard, fitting the UconnectTM 7-inch HD LIVE touchscreen system, which is Apple CarPlay-ready and Android AutoTM compatible.
What I really like most about Fiats is their engines. They never fail to impress from the smallest of models to the largest and are consistently willing to perform.
So for the 500L the petrol engine line-up includes the 1.4-litre 16V, delivering 95hp, and the 1.4-litre 16V T-Jet, delivering 120hp. The offering is completed by two diesel engines: the 95hp 1,300cc 16V MultiJet, also available with Dualogic transmission, and the 120hp 1,600cc 16V MultiJet.
All engines comply with the Euro 6 standards and combine optimal performance with impressive fuel economy.
The new Fiat 500L is available in 10 pastel or metallic colours and with three types of roof: body-coloured, glossy black or white or matt black, giving customers a choice of no less than 36 colour combinations. The colours available are the new Bellagio Blue, Sicilian Orange and Donatello Bronze, Bossa Nova White, Hip Hop Yellow, Darkwave Black, Minimal Grey, Heavy Metal Grey, Beatbox Green and Pasodoble Red.
The sound system is excellent and the Fiat 500L can be upgraded with the BeatsAudio system, which boasts a total power of 520 watts, divided between two 80W mid-woofer speakers (diameter 165mm) positioned in the bottom part of the front door panel, two 40W tweeter speakers (diameter 38mm) positioned in the top of the front door panel, two 60W full-range speakers (diameter 165mm) positioned in the rear door panel and an 80 + 80W subwoofer (diameter 165mm) located in the boot, which ensures powerful bass tones, so maximising the listening experience.
Fiat 500L factfile
Model tested: Fiat 500L 1.6 MultiJet 120hp Cross
Colour: Sicilian Orange / Matt Black Roof
On-the-road price of test car with options: £24,020
Test car options include:
• 17in Trekking alloy wheels with diamond finish (£75)
• Heated front windscreen (£350)
• Electric sunroof (£950)
• Fixed glass roof (£600)