Fiat 500L Trekking review
We take a first drive in the new range-topping Fiat 500L Trekking
Unless you really don’t like the way the Trekking looks then we can’t see any reason why you wouldn’t pick it over the standard 500L. You get extra off-road ability, extra equipment and chunkier styling all for around £700 over the 500L Lounge. What’s more, you can recoup some of that money because of the Trekking’s lower insurance costs and you can rest assured that you’re driving something with character – after all there aren’t many crossover MPVs on the road.
So the Fiat 500 is now city car, family car, convertible, seven-seater (in the shape of the 500L MPW) and even a crossover, in this 500L Trekking variant. It’s based on the standard 500L, and features a few clever upgrades to make it the most capable off-road 500 yet.
That’s not saying much, but Fiat has at least jacked up the ride height by 15mm over the standard car, fitted a set of mud and snow tyres, protected the underbody with some plastic cladding and fitted a special Traction+ system to improve grip on slippery surfaces.
We took the Trekking on to some dusty, rocky tracks, which it dealt with easily. There was plenty of grip around tight bends, under braking and off the line. That’s down to the combination of the new tyres and the upgraded traction control, which has been tweaked to deal with surfaces like gravel and wet grass.
Thanks to the 15mm higher suspension we never caught the underbody on any outlying rocks, either. But don’t try and take the Trekking any further than a grassy track or a dusty back road because it’s simply not up to the job of doing any proper off-roading.
Instead, Fiat sees it spending most of its time in the city. Here, it’s extra height gives a great view of the road but the suspension feels a little firmer than the standard L, making for a slightly bumpier ride. It does corner surprisingly well, too, but the steering needs to have a little more feel.
The Trekking is available with the same choice of engines as the 500L and MPW, but the 1.6 Multijet fitted to our car offers the best all-round ability. It can accelerate from 0-62mph in 12 seconds flat yet still returns 60.1mpg.
As in the MPW, it doesn’t sound particularly good under acceleration but does settle down at motorway speeds. You get the same interior package as the standard 500L, so the practical five-seat cabin has plenty of cubbyholes for storing things and there’s enough space in the back for adults.
The 412-litre boot can be extended to 1,375 litres if you fold all the seats down, too. Opting for the Trekking over the standard car means paying around an extra £700 over the top-spec Lounge models but we personally prefer the looks and extra off-road ability you get for the cash.
And to make things even more appealing the Trekking comes with an automatic city braking system and 17-inch alloys as standard, where the 500L doesn’t. The city brake system also puts the Trekking in a lower insurance group, so you’ll get back some of that initial outlay immediately.