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Fiat 500L 1.6 MultiJet Trekking

Click to view picture gallery“One single letter can make a huge
  difference. According to pop
  psychology, you can turn failure
  into success simply by dropping
  the
t in I cant to make I can.
  Similarly, add an
L to 500 and
  you jump from a chic city car to a
  groovy maxed-out mini-MPV...”


AT 4.3m LONG, 1.8m wide, and standing a manly 1.7m tall, the 500L is far more than the 'L'-for-longer Fiat 500 hatch you might be imagining. Neither is the Trekking version an ordinary 500L. In fact, if you have a need for some cool space and you fancy injecting some adventure into your life, the Trekking version with its Traction+ feature could be your ideal macchina

Looks-wise, while it's clearly related to its three-door 500 sibling, the five-door 500L is a stand-out eye-catcher. And the more rugged-looking Trekking version ramps it up to another level thanks to a higher ground clearance, side mouldings, protective silver underbody shields, and black wheelarch extenders defining arches packed out with diamond-finished 17-inch alloy wheels. The colpo di scena is the dramatic Hip Hop Yellow bodywork crowned with a pure white roof. Mamma mia!

“Trekking versions
come with 145mm of
ground clearance and are
equipped with Fiat’s
Traction+ system along
with all-terrain, all-
season mud-and-snow
tyres for added grip —
ensuring the Trekking moniker is not just
a catchy name...
The best term to describe what awaits you in the cabin is 'open plan' a feeling both created and boosted by a huge sunroof that floods the cabin with natural light, calling attention to its lively two-tone treatment and smart, high-gloss fascia.

A large touchscreen makes light work of managing the audio, media and phone, while the knurled AirCon controls are large and easy to use on the move. Phone, audio and voice remote controls are also mounted on the snazzy tan-and-black leather-wrapped steering wheel. Also a cinch to use is the new paddle-style handbrake which calls for far less effort than a traditional pull-up lever and it wasn't just the ladies who liked it!

There's generous headroom throughout, even though you're sitting high off the floor which is great for visibility as well as lower leg comfort. For the driver it guarantees a commanding position, enhanced by plenty of wheel and seat adjustment; the front seats themselves are well-bolstered and supportive, particularly around your shoulders. Foot room is also good both sides of the centre tunnel; if you're doing the driving there's a rest set at a comfy angle for your left foot when in cruise mode.

Access to the rear cabin is through big doors that open wide so no problems, and they're also car park-friendly: you don't have to open them fully to get in and out. Once aboard you sit six inches higher than those in front.

There's masses of foot room (for three pairs; and, yes, the middle seat position is fine for adults to journey in), the rear backrests adjust through three recline settings and the average adult will enjoy a good eight inches of space between their knees and the front seatback. Both the two-seat and single section rear seats slide independently of each other; forward and back, through five inches.

An extra and unlooked-for feature is the foldable front seat, which can be 'closed down' to form a table or to allow a particularly long and bulky item to be transported.

Inner storage is well thought-out, with two gloveboxes separated by a non-slip open shelf; the upper glovebox is chilled, and having one 'normal' and one cooled is a very civilised approach. In addition to that you'll find bottle-holding door bins, plenty of handy storage pockets and cupholders, along with a drop-down sunglasses pocket.

The Trekking's standard equipment tally is high included are all the essentials such as AirCon, power windows (all one-shot auto) and door mirrors, automatic lights and wipes, 5-inch touchscreen (radio, media, phone, etc), Dualdrive electric power steering, Bluetooth, cruise control and speed limiter, rear parking sensors, tinted windows with privacy glass from the B-pillar back, auto-dimming rearview mirror, leather steering wheel with audio controls, side mouldings and body kit, height adjustable boot load platform, front fog lights, and 17-inch alloy wheels.

“Originally Fiat expected
the 500L to appeal to
500 hatch owners who
were, most usually for
family reasons,
outgrowing their city cars
but as it turns out,
to date three-quarters of
all 500L models have
been snapped up by
conquest customers...
You also get the Traction+ system, M+S (Mud+Snow) all-season tyres, Electronic Stability Control, Hill Holder, City Brake Control, six airbags, space-saver spare wheel, heated rear window, and Start&Stop (we especially like the fact that if you turn it off it stays off, even after a restart, and only comes back on when you want it to).

Must-have extras fitted to our test car that are most likely to get their boxes ticked on the options list included the cool pastel paint (Hip Hop Yellow) with the white roof and white mirror casings (£850), automatic dual-zone climate control (£300) and HiFi by Beats (£600).

Accessing the boot is easy and once open there's room for a fair showing of family kit or lifestyle equipment: a capacity of 343 litres with the rear seats slid as far rearwards as they go; 400 with them as far forward as they'll slide; and 1,310 with the back seats folded to form a usefully long loadbay. The back seats also fold and tumble for an alternative format cargo hold.

A height-adjustable boot floor (three levels) enhances the versatility while a knee-height sill and pop-out bag-hooks make post-supermarket unloading less taxing. And if you need to use the boot at night, the wing-mounted rear light units can be seen by traffic while the tailgate's open. Additionally the Trekking has a braked towing capacity of 1,000kg, making it perfetto for those family camping trips.

Originally Fiat expected the 500L to appeal to 500 hatch owners who were, most usually for family reasons, outgrowing their city cars but as it turns out, to date three-quarters of all 500L models have been snapped up by conquest customers.

Trekking versions come with 145mm of ground clearance and are equipped with Fiat's Traction+ system along with all-terrain, all-seasons mud-and-snow tyres for added grip ensuring the Trekking moniker is not just a catchy name.

For town traffic the Trekking also has Fiat's City Brake Control function basically, forget to brake at low city speeds and the system does it for you. Something not even a back-seat driver can manage. And without all the nagging…

Adding to the appeal for many customers is a wide range of extra cost options for personalisation in fact, you can even tick the box for an on-board Lavazza coffee machine (yours for just £200).

While 500L buyers are more interested in what it does, how it goes is not completely unimportant this range-topper Trekking comes with Fiat's 1.6-litre MultiJet ll turbodiesel unit under its bonnet. A four-cylinder in-line turboed and intercooled diesel unit, it kicks out 236lb ft at 1,750rpm. That's sufficient to push it off the line to 62mph in 12 seconds dead. Top speed is an autobahn-friendly 109mph.

“Its quiet on the move and there’s sufficient power to endow the Trekking with an easy top-gear gait in the mid-eighties, so 70mph motorway cruising is very smooth and stress-free. By the way, making best use of the manual gearbox’s six gears is no hassle; the change is easy and accurate...
Inside he cabin it's quiet on the move and there's sufficient power to endow the Trekking with an easy top-gear gait in the mid-eighties so 70mph motorway cruising is very smooth and stress-free. By the way, making best use of the manual gearbox's six gears is no hassle; the change is easy and accurate.

CO2 emissions of 122g/km are tax-friendly: road tax costs nothing for the first year; thereafter it's still a reasonable £105 a year until you're done with the car. Officially the Trekking could return 60.1 in the combined cycle. On test with MotorBar it averaged 48.9mpg. Lighter-footed drivers should be able to cross 50 on their way to 55mpg and beyond.

Handling-wise the Trekking satisfies with a flat, level and generally comfortable ride, decent grip (notably through the twisties and when cornering), tracks straight and true on the motorway plus body lean is well controlled and the general steering setting is fine (in town and for parking its selectable lighter weighting is welcome); all of which let you press on reassuringly when needs must, solo or with seats two through five also filled.

Traction+ provides some extra surefootedness to the Trekking version, enabling it to take on rain, mud, snow and ice and win. It's activated in a jiffy by pressing the switch just behind the gearlever. Traction+ works by braking back the front driving wheel with the least grip and sends more drive to the stronger gripping one. Simple and effective at speeds up to 30mph, it makes for more confident progress in all tricky weather conditions.

In Trekking spec the 500L offers more character than its rivals; it's also an easy drive with Dualdrive electric power steering to make light work of city driving. Out of town, along country tracks and off road, it's also an easy rider. Factor in low running costs, stand-out looks and its ability to satisfy a family's transport needs and it deserves a high spot on anyone's short list. Thumbs up all round for the Trekking!
MotorBar

Fiat 500L Trekking 1.6 MultiJet | £19,590
Maximum speed: 109mph | 0-62mph: 12 seconds | Test Average: 48.6mpg
Power: 103bhp | Torque: 236lb ft | CO2: 122g/km