2014 Fiat 500L and 500L Living: Serbian 500 on a Punto Chassis
The 2014 Fiat 500L, to be sold in North America starting in mid-2013, is a five-passenger, four-door, crossover similar to the Mini Countryman, but with 42% more interior space. A seven-passenger version, formerly called the 500XL, appeared as the 500L Living, with initial production limited to Europe. Read our Fiat 500L driving test / review.
The Serbian-made 500L uses a lengthened and widened Punto chassis – not the “normal” Fiat 500 platform. The “L” stands for “leveraging,” according to Fiat — large, loft, lifestyle, and light — though most people would be excused for thinking it stands for “Large” (it might — PT never really stood for “Personal Transportation”).
This will be the first Eastern European car sold in the United States since the ill-fated, Fiat-based Yugo. Fiat has made major gains in quality from its Serbian plant, and the car is expected to live up to current Fiat standards.
Jim Choate wrote:
Even with the seat jacked up in height, there was still loads of headroom for me. Put sliding doors on it and it’s a mini-minivan. It was very easy for me to get in and out of both the front and rear seats, the overall ergonomics were good, about the only issue might be the "split A-pillar," but I would imagine it wouldn't take long to get used to that. It has decent space in the cargo area that includes a PT-like shelf.
Fiat 500L Living
The 500L Living, based on the Punto, is longer than the closely related 500L by roughly eight inches, allowing it to provide seats for two more people. Styling is nearly identical to the 500L, with the main differences being more sheet metal and glass behind the doors.
The 500L Living has three rows of seats, and is the most compact seven-seater in its segment at 171 inches long, 70 inches wide, and 66 inches high. At launch, it will be available with Fiat’s 95-horsepower 1.4 liter FIRE engine and a 105 horsepower TwinAir turbo for gasoline lovers, along with 85 and 105 horsepower Fiat diesels. The 85 horsepower 1.3 liter diesel will be sold with an automatic.
The 500L Living comes in Pop Star and Lounge editions, both with five or seven seats; there are eleven two-tone paint combinations and eight solid colors with six interior trims and numerous wheel/hubcap choices. It has available leather, navigation, and rear camera, and will be made in Serbia (Kragujevac). Ordering is to open in July, for Italian customers, and to be increased to encompass the rest of Europe afterwards. There has been no indication so far that the car will be sold in the United States; American sale is most likely awaiting the addition of the turbocharged 1.4 liter engine used in the 500L, 500 Abarth, and Dodge Dart.
Fiat 500L Powertrain
In North America, the new Fiat will have the 160-horsepower, 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo engine and two six-speed transmission options, a dual dry clutch automatic or a manual; the engine and transmissions are essentially the same ones used in the Dodge Dart. The little 83-cubic-inch engine pushes out 184 lb-ft of torque.
A forged-steel crankshaft has lightened counterweights to reduce overall mass for high engine RPM operation. Lightweight forged-steel connecting rods have a unique cross section to minimize longitudinal and lateral bending. Lightweight cast-aluminum pistons and a 9.8:1 compression ratio improves the reciprocating assembly’s efficiency. Full-floating piston pins increase strength; piston cooling jets at the bottom of each cylinder help improve fuel economy.
The six-speed transmissions both have a 6.88 ratio spread and final-drive ratios of 4.12 (manual) and 4.44 (DDCT) for quick acceleration, faster top speed, and a maintained fuel economy; first-gear overall launch ratio is 18.4:1.
The European version will be available with the 95-horsepower 1.4-liter and a 6-speed manual transmission; the 85-horsepower, 1.3-liter MultiJet II diesel; and the 105-horsepower, 0.9-liter TwinAir two-cylinder with 6-speed manual transmission. The diesel includes a stop-start system for even higher city mileage, and has an optional MTA Dualogic transmission. Fiat claims a combined 67.3 miles per gallon (4.2 l/100km) for the 500L diesel. (We were unable to get torque ratings on the diesel; the 75 hp version is rated a 107 lb-ft, while the 95 hp version is rated at 148 lb-ft. 0-60 times for the 500L with this engine should be roughly 12 - 13 seconds. The US version is most likely capable of 0-60 in around 8-9 seconds.)
The North American Fiat 500L comes with the same powertrain as Dodge Dart, tuned somewhat differently, and is rated at 25 city, 33 highway with the manual and 24 city, 33 highway with the automatic.
The North American Fiat 500L’s standard power and torque both beat Mini Countryman and Kia Soul.
Suspension, Brakes, and Steering
A MacPherson front-suspension design has a rigid, tubular anti-roll bar for increased cornering performance and reduced weight. A “split-type” shock-absorber mount improves shock-absorber efficiency.
A torsion axle structure with a high level of rolling rigidity saves the weight of an anti-roll bar in the rear. Urethane bushings will improve ride control, comfort, and durability. Monotube shock absorbers are in the rear.
Single-piston, 2.24-inch brake calipers are on the front, paired with 12-inch vented rotors; 10.4-inch solid disc brakes are on the rear with 1.49-inch rear calipers.
An electric power steering system, which cuts maintenance, improves reliability, and increases efficiency, also controls oversteer on low-grip surfaces. The four-channel stability control system allows individual wheel braking and provides backup braking if one of the brake circuits failes; it also includes brake-force distribution, rollover prevention, hill-start assist, traction control, and braking assistance.
Elevent colors will be available, with the option of either a black or white “floating” roof (with a 20.7-square-foot dual-glass panel sunroof). Side door moldings will be body color and are available with chrome accents. Belt- and window-molding surrounds will be black. Glass A and D pillars offer nearly 360-degree views from the inside.
The 500L will have bi-halogen projector headlights and honeycomb lower front-grille texture. Headlamps will have chrome accents with the “500” logo, and square-in-circular tail lamps will be visible from the side profile.
There will also be seven wheel designs ranging from 16 to 17 inches.
500L Interior and Storage
Powertrain, wind, and road noise have been isolated, helping the new Fiat achieve a 72% articulation index. The noise, vibration, and harshness (NVM) package includes a laminated acoustic windshield, body-cavity silencing foam, under-flush rolled-framed doors with triple seals, and acoustic wheel-well liners.
The upper instrument panel will have color-matched exterior accents and vinyl-wrapped or painted accents. The thick-rimmed, three-spoke steering wheel will be available in leather and two-tone color options.
|Weight||3,203||Over 800 lb heavier|
Seven fabric and two leather options are available, along with 64 internal/external design combinations.
With 140 accessory options owners can add on. An Electronic Vehicle Information Center (EVIC) will be on the instrument panel with trip, vehicle, and Uconnect system information. Five-inch and 6.5-inch touchscreen Uconnect systems will be available. Climate controls and the gearshift are easily accessible efrom the center armrest.
Fiat’s eco:Drive app will be integrated in the 500L. It collects all necessary vehicle efficiency data and transmits it onto the five-inch touchscreen, which can also be transmitted to a USB memory stick. Vehicle performance (such as per trip CO2 emission levels) can be analyzed.
A Beats Audio sound system has six speakers, an eight-inch dual-voice coil subwoofer with trunk-mounted enclosure, and eight-channel amplifier with Beats Audio digital sound processing algorithm.
For storage, the 500L will have a capacity of about 14 cubic feet. The rear bench seat can be slid forward nearly four inches to create additional storage room at the expense of rear-passenger leg room. The front passenger’s seat back can also be folded forward, and the elevated back seats can be double-folded. The trunk has three different level settings. 22 storage compartments are located inside, including a passenger-side recessed instrument panel cubby and covered glove box.
The 500L will also have a low, 26-inch cargo-lift height and recessed lower-liftgate area for license plates.
The 500L will have seven standard air bags (including a full-length side curtain airbag) and reactive head restraints. A ParkView rear backup camera is used on the Uconnect touchscreen when the vehicle is in Reverse.
500L Models and Verisons
The European version of the 500L will be available in Pop, Sport, Trekking, and Lounge versions. It will have more than 300 color combinations, more than 1,500 interior combinations, and 22 storage compartments. About five square feet (1.5 m2) of fixed-glass “skydome” sunroof will be available. Overall length will be 161.65 inches (4.1 meters).
The base Pop is surprisingly well equipped; running on 16-inch alloy wheels, it has standard air conditioning, body-color moldings, bright exhaust tip, heated power mirror with spotter, rear window washer, wiper, and defroster, power windows and locks, remote entry, projector headlamps, alarm, tire pressure monitor, height-adjustable front seats, rear 60/40 folding seats with tilt, tumble, and slide, body-color dashboard panels, tilt/telescope steering column, floor mats, Fiat/Microsoft touch-screen stereo, vehicle information center, six-speaker stereo, cruise, seven airbags, hill start assist.
- The Easy will include a soft-touch dashboard, rear parking sensors, and manual climate control.
- Sport adds 17” aluminum wheels fog lamps, body-color mirrors, center console, leather-wrapped shifter and wheel, AC outlet, rear-seat armrest, vinyl wrapped instrument panel, illuminated-mirror sun visors, heated front seats, satellite radio, dual-zone automatic temperature control, garage door opener, auto-dim mirror, and power driver seat. With Sport, the DDCT (automatic) becomes an option.
- Trekking adds unique wheels, different front and rear fascias with black accents, two-tone black and brown seats, painted instrument panel, wheel arch moldings, satin chrome accents, and black body-side sill moldings.
- Lounge adds (to Sport) leather seats, rear park assist and camera, vinyl wrapped instrument panel, chrome bodyside molding and exterior mirrors, power driver and passenger seats, and premium stereo.
500L, a Fiat Design Approach
Fiat’s documentary publication, 500L, a Fiat Design Approach, tells the story behind the 500L; it contains the original designer’s sketches and follows the MPV’s inspiration through previous Fiat models, including the 1957 500, 1972 127, and 1998 Multipla.
A stretched seven-passenger version of the 500L, the 500XL, will also be made at the Serbia plant; the name as sold in North America is currently unknown.
|Fiat 500 (US)||Fiat 500L|
|Horsepower||101 hp||160 bhp|
|Torque||98 lb-ft||184 lb-ft|
|Gas mileage (premium)||31 city, 40 highway (manual; 27/34 automatic)||TBD (Allpar guesses 27/37 manual, 25/34 auto)|
|Built in||Toluca; engines from Dundee, Michigan||Serbia; engines from Termoli, Italy|
|Length||90.6-inch wheelbase; 139.6-inch length||102.8-inch wheelbase; 167.1-inch length|
|Width x Height||64.1 x 59.8||69.8 x 65.7|
|Drag coefficient||0.332 (Pop), 0.362 (Sport), 0.359 (Lounge)||0.310 (Pop, Easy, Lounge), 0.320 (Trekking)|
|Weight||2,363 to 2,434 (Turbo: 2,477)||3,203 to 3,254|
|Front suspension||MacPherson, coil spring with twin tube shocks and stabilizer bar|
|Rear suspension||Twist-beam axle with coil springs and twin-tube shocks|
|Tires||185/55R15 (Pop, Lounge); 195/45R16 (Sport)||205/55R16 (Pop, Easy, Lounge); 225/45R17 (Trekking)|
|Front brakes||10.1 x 0.86 vented rotor||12.0 x 1.10 vented rotor|
|Rear brakes||9.4 x 0.4 solid rotor||10.4 x 0.4 solid rotor|
|Swept area, F/R||193 / 153 sq in||345 / 233 sq in|
|Headroom F/R||38.9 / 35.6||40.7 / 38.9 (40.2 / 38.3 with sunroof)|
|Legroom F/R||40.7 / 31.7||40.4 / 30.7|
|EPA interior volume||75.6 cubic feet||122.8 cubic feet|
|Trunk||9.5 cubic feet||26.2 (liftover height|