Car group tests

Fiat 500L MPW vs Kia Carens

Fiat promises space and style with its new seven-seat 500L MPW. We see if it delivers against the Kia Carens

Fiat 500L MPW vs Kia Carens

Fiat’s people carriers have come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes over the years. The company introduced the 500-based Multipla back in the swinging sixties, and revived the name in the late nineties for an oddball six-seater that gained a cult following with its quirky styling and three-abreast seat layout.

Today, the van-based Doblo offers lots of space for your money, but Fiat’s latest MPV, the 500L, aims to add plenty of style to the mix. As the name suggests, it takes design inspiration from the 500 city car, and now there’s an even bigger 500L on sale with the option of seven seats: the Multi-Purpose Wagon, or MPW.

Fiat 500L MPW review

Kia Carens review

It’s one of the cheapest seven-seaters on sale, but is this new model a step too far for the 500 brand? We’ve lined up a tough challenger to give it a thorough workout in its first test. The Kia Carens is a no-nonsense people carrier, but what it lacks in interior style, it makes up for with practical touches.

Here we pitch the entry-level Carens 1 – powered by a 1.7-litre diesel – against the 500L MPW Pop Star with 1.6-litre diesel power. Can the new Fiat make an impact? Or does the practical Carens demonstrate how a seven-seat MPV should be built?

Click on the links above to read each review, and then read on below to see our road test verdict.

Head-to-head

Practicality

These cars are evenly matched for boot space, although the 500L MPW has a wide, square tailgate to boost loading, and the deep bins on either side are a handy touch. The Fiat’s rearmost seats on the fiddlier to unfold – you need to slide forward the middle row seats first – but both cars’ seat mechanisms feel robust. Only the Kia has storage for the parcel shelf (below), plus it has a fold-flat front passenger seat; this is a £100 option on the 500L.

On the road

There’s not much between these cars on cruising comfort. The Kia has a slight edge, with barely any wind or engine noise at motorway speeds, but the Fiat isn’t far behind, and both cars perform reasonably around town. The Fiat’s large glass area and light City steering mode make low-speed urban driving easy.

Options

The sole factory option on the Kia is metallic paint, but the 500L MPW offers a raft of reasonably priced extras. These include a reversing camera, climate control and sat-nav, as well as a Lavazza espresso maker and premium Beats stereo.

Verdict

1st place: Kia Carens

If you need seven seats, the Carens is the car to go for. It’s not at its best in entry-level spec, as it’s pretty basic, and the diesel engine isn’t a great performer. But its practical touches are enough for it to make up ground against the 500L MPW.

2nd place: Fiat 500L MPW

Its looks divide opinion and the rearmost seats are tight, so the 500L MPW doesn’t make as much sense as the Kia at this price point. While it’s quicker and more efficient, and has plenty of options, it’s more tempting as a five-seater with a bigger boot.

Figures

 Kia Carens 1.7 CRDi 1Fiat 500L MPW 7 seat 1.6 Multijet Pop Star
On-the-road price/total as tested£19,295/£23,845£18,290/£22,395
Residual value (after 3yrs/30,000)£7,023/36.4%£6,968/38.1%
Depreciation£12,272£11,322
Annual tax liability std/higher rate£731/£1,462£681/£1,363
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)£1,771/£2,952£1,486/£2,476
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost12/£372/D/£10517/£338/C/£30
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service£329 (3yrs)£164/£234/£164
   
Length/wheelbase4,525/2,750mm4,352/2,612mm
Height/width1,605/1,805mm1,667/1,784mm
Engine4cyl in-line/1,685cc4cyl in-line/1,598cc
Peak power114/4,000 bhp/rpm104/3,700 bhp/rpm
Peak torque260/1,250 Nm/rpm320/1,750 Nm/rpm
Transmission6-spd man/fwd6-spd man/fwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel58 litres/space saver50 litres/space saver
Boot capacity (7/5/2 seat modes)N/A/492/1,650 litres168/493/1,590 litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight1,581/534/1,500kg1,425/N/A/1,100kg
Turning circle/drag coefficient11.0 metres/0.30Cd10.7 metres/N/A
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery7yrs (100k)/1yr RAC3yrs (60k)/1yr
Service intervals/UK dealers20k miles (1yr)/16721k miles (1yr)/160
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.7th/10th30th/28th
Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./stars94/76/64/594/78/65/5
   
0-60/30-70mph12.0/12.8 secs12.7/13.5 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th5.1/7.0 secs4.6/5.8 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th10.4/13.3 secs8.3/9.9 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph112mph/2,100rpm112mph/2,000rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph49.5/35.9/9.2m48.6/36.0/9.3m
Noise levels outside/idle/30/70mph63/43/61/67dB72/48/61/69dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range42.2/9.3/538 miles50.3/11.1/553 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined48.7/68.9/60.1mpg52.3/72.4/62.8mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined10.7/15.2/13.2mpl11.5/15.9/13.8mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket179/124g/km/19%150/117g/km/18%
   
Airbags/Isofix/rear park sensors/camSix/yes/no/noSix/yes/yes/£270
Automatic box/stability/cruise controlNo/yes/yesNo/yes/yes
Climate control/leather/heated seatsNo/no/no£300/no/£175
Met paint/2nd mirror/fold front seat£495/yes/yes£500/£50/£100
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/BluetoothNo/yes/£250/yes£500/yes/£100/yes

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