Fiat 500L 1.6 Multijet

We've already been impressed by the practical new Fiat 500L, so now we try the diesel version

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Don’t be put off by the fact that the 500L feels closer in spirit to the Fiat Panda than the 500 city car it shares a name with. The cleverly designed and well equipped interior is a pleasant surprise, while the 1.6-litre diesel is smooth and refined. If you can live with the quirky looks and loose body control, there’s plenty to like about this super-sized 500.

Britain is one of the last countries in Europe to get the new Fiat 500L MPV, but we were among the first to try it with the flagship 1.6-litre diesel.

While this model carries a hefty premium over the TwinAir version we tried last month, Fiat reckons it should be a strong seller. With 320Nm of torque, it’s certainly ideally suited to lugging around the whole family – as well as their luggage.

At motorway speeds it’s also more refined than its petrol counterpart, and this relaxed power delivery suits the 500L’s soft and comfortable character. In corners it rolls around on its springs, although few 500Ls are likely to be driven hard.

The dumpy exterior styling could prove a little divisive, but once you’re inside, details such as the vast 1.5-metre glass roof and grey suede dash look very smart, while the UConnect touchscreen Bluetooth radio is clear and intuitive on the move.

Built in a new Serbian factory, the car has a high-quality feel – easily a match for rivals like the Citroen C3 Picasso – and the interior has plenty of cubbies and holders to stash loose items.

The rear seats slide and fold independently, but can also be rolled forward to create a big load bay. Plus, the front passenger seat folds flat if you need to use the 500L for a flat-pack furniture run.

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