Fiat 500L MPW review
The Fiat 500L MPW is the largest member of the Fiat 500 family and the only one that is available with seven seats.
Success for the MINI Countryman has proven that there’s a market for big family cars with loads of character. But is the Fiat 500L MPW a step too far?
The wheelbase stays the same as for the 500L, but there’s an extra 200mm behind the rear wheels, freeing up space for an optional third row (£700) and a 638-litre boot. However, the increased size does come at the expense of those retro looks.
The MPW is available with all of the frugal engines of the standard 500L, including the two-cylinder 900cc TwinAir engine.
Our choice: 500L MPW 1.6 Multijet Lounge
We don't yet have a video review of the Fiat 500L MPW, but check out our sister site Carbuyer.co.uk's video on the Fiat 500L.
Where the Fiat 500L was relatively successful in transferring the 500 city car’s looks in to a larger package, the longer 500L MPW looks a little odd. Look at it in profile and the wheels look far too small and the back looks a little out of proportion.
Despite the Pop Star’s model’s floating white roof and tinted windows, it’s certainly an awkward-looking car. On the plus side the cabin feels light and spacious, with even tall adults able to sit comfortably in the second row.
Things are far more promising in the cabin, where fit and finish is pretty good and the design is far more stylish. PopStar models get a body-coloured insert on the dashboard, while more upmarket Lounge variants get a nice soft-touch leather insert.
The MPW is available with the same range of engines as the 500L, so from launch that means a 1.3-litre diesel, a 1.6-litre diesel and an 900cc TwinAir engine.
The 1.6-litre Multijet diesel is likely to be the most popular engine in the range. It’s got 104bhp and feels as though it has adequate performance. Engines with as little as 79bhp are available but they’ll probably feel very slow.
But we’re not as convinced by this 104bhp diesel engine. Yes, it’ll be cheap to run with 117g/km emissions and 62.8mpg, but it’s noisy and has to be worked hard. The new 118bhp version is a more relaxed choice.
The controls are all light and easy to use, so the 500L MPW is no more intimidating to drive than the city car that shares its name. It does feel a bit at sea in corners, though. Drive it sedately and the soft suspension does a fine job of soaking up potholes, but bigger rivals such as the Kia Carens and Citroen Grand C4 Picasso ride with even more finesse and are more refined, too.
The engines and platform of the 500L MPW have been used across a host of other Fiat models like the 500, Panda and Punto, so should prove to be just as reliable as they have been in those cars. Fiat doesn’t generally perform too well in customer satisfaction surveys, though, so you may not quite get the service you’re expecting. Euro NCAP hasn’t crash tested the 500L MPW yet, but the standard 500L received the maximum five stars. That’s down to its generous safety equipment as standard, which includes driver, passenger, side and window airbags. ABS and traction control are both included and you can even specify an automatic city braking system that can detect and hopefully avoid a potential collision.
The Fiat 500L MPW dimensions are about 30cm longer than the standard Fiat 500L and it comes with the option of a seven-seat layout in the cabin. It’ll cost you around £800 extra, and gets you two temporary seats that fold out of the boot floor.
The flip-up rear seats are for occasional use only, though, and even children will find it a squeeze back there. With all seven seats in place, the boot shrinks to 168 litres, too.
On the plus side, with only five seats in place and with each moved as far forward as it will go, there’s a huge 638-litre boot. Push them as far back as they’ll go for maximium legroom and you get a 560-litre load area.
Despite some hard plastics, the cabin feels sturdy enough to stand up to family abuse.
The engines with the lowest running costs are the ones we’d most likely recommend you avoid. The 1.3-litre diesel, for example, boasts 67.2mpg but will feel underpowered. For the best blend of performance and low running costs go for the 1.6-litre Multijet, which feels relatively punchy and can also return 62.7mpg. The option of a 900cc TwinAir petrol engine is available, offering the best refinement of the lot and economy of 58.8mpg. In the real world, though, we’ve found it extremely difficult to even get close to that figure.