The Fiat 500 is about to complete the transition from cute city car to seven-seater MPV – and we have the pictures that prove it. A combination of spy shots and leaked patent office drawings has confirmed that it’s on the way, and will go on sale in mid-2013.
Known internally as the 500XL, it will become the sixth member of the expanding 500 family, joining the 500, 500C, 500L and 500X. The name is by no means signed off, however. A source told us: “For the moment it’s called XL, but that could create some confusion with the 500X.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if it was changed for production. You never know with Fiat: Alfa’s Giulietta was called Milano until two weeks before launch.”
The 500XL is based on the five-seater 500L, and will use the same platform and therefore get the same wheelbase. The extra interior space, for the third row of seats, will come from a rear overhang extended by around 200mm, giving it a length of 4,340mm.
As our image shows, the styling is identical to the 500L, with the exception of the extended roofline and elongated rear window. There’s the same boxy wheelarches, psychedelic rear lights and blacked-out pillars, creating a floating roof which will be available in a variety of colours. There’s also a transparent A-pillar – a trick from the 500L to improve forward visibility.
The dashboard design from the 500L will be carried over unchanged with the same combination of body-coloured plastic inserts and chunky switchgear. To allow access to the final row, the second row of seats will tip up and forward to let passengers through, while all seats will slide back and forward individually.
Although the styling is bound to split opinion, it’s worth remembering this is effectively a replacement for the oddball Multipla, which was known for its spacious interior, not its looks. Combined with the five-seater 500L, the XL will take on family-focused models such as the Ford C-MAX and Grand C-MAX, plus the Renault Scenic and Grand Scenic.
The 500L has a 400-litre boot, so expect the XL to offer much less than that with all seven seats in place, and around 100 litres more with the third row folded flat into the floor. In fact, all the seats, barring the driver’s, will tip and fold flat, freeing up a huge load area.
The engine line-up will follow the 500L’s, too, which means a pair of petrols will be offered – a 93bhp 1.4-litre four-cylinder and a 104bhp version of the turbo 900cc two-cylinder TwinAir engine. Just one diesel will be available – a 1.3-litre Multijet with 84bhp and CO2 emissions of around 115g/km.
And the 500L range won’t end here. Also under development is a 500L Trekking, which will add slightly more rugged bodywork, raised suspension and an electronically controlled front differential to give the car light off-roading ability.