In the UK you currently can’t buy a Fiat 500L with more than 104bhp. Come May, however, that’ll change with the introduction of this new 158bhp Fiat 500L 1.4 MultiAir petrol turbo.
As soon as you start it up, it feels more grown-up than the 875cc TwinAir petrol and 1.3 or 1.6-litre MultiJet diesels offered elsewhere in the range. Whereas they’re a little noisy and can feel a bit underpowered, the 1.4 turbo is quiet, smooth and punchy enough to never leave you wishing for more.
The added refinement and muscle are obviously welcome, but this is a class where running costs play an important part in the buying decision. Figures have yet to be confirmed for the UK, but we’re expecting just over 40mpg and a price to match that of the range-topping 62.8mpg 1.6 MultiJet diesel. We know which engine we’d love to pick, but for cost-driven families the diesel remains the better buy.
When it comes to residuals, MINI’s similarly sized Countryman is king. There’s also a Cooper S, which has even more power than this 500L. However, the Fiat is definitely more practical. There’s plenty of head and legroom all round, plus all three rear seats slide and fold individually.
At its largest the boot is 400 litres, but slide the seats back and it’s 343 litres. Fold them away and you’ll get 1,310. What’s more, fit and finish inside are good, and the huge windows – which seem to wrap around uninterrupted for 360 degrees – allow for great visibility.
Combined with light steering and an accurate gearbox, you’ll find that the 500L is really easy to drive around town. It’s not the most dynamic car – a MINI Countryman or Ford B-MAX will fare better – but it is very comfortable on the whole.