Los Angeles takeover: with California being one of Fiat’s largest markets, Fiat is making a big splash at the LA Auto Show. There are three debuts: the 500L, 500C Abarth, and electric 500E. The biggest launch (literally and figuratively) is the 500L. Fiat re-launched it’s brand with just one model, the hatchback 500. Needless to say, it isn’t a model aimed at the mainstream of the market.
The 500 has found a niche though and sales of the 500 have been doing very well in America. Fiat Studios around the country are eagerly awaiting arrival of the 500L, which many speculate could become the brand’s volume model. In America, many think bigger is better and a 500L is – by a big margin.
Based on an entirely different platform, the 500L is six-inches wider and a whopping 26-inches longer than the 500. In addition, it is six-inches taller. As far as the competition goes, it is aimed squarely at the Mini Countryman. You can even see a resemblance to that car, particularly from the rear view. The 500L has a few tricks up it’s sleeve. One thing that has always struck us about the 500 is its roominess and practicality. The 500L puts that packaging expertise to good use with an interior that has forty-two percent more interior room.
It is big enough for the Environmental Protection Agency to rate it as a large car based on interior volume. The feeling of space is enhanced by the tall roof and what Fiat calls “panoramic views” afforded by the big windows, glass pillars and the segment’s largest dual-pane sunroof. The dual pane glass unit spans 20.7 sq. ft. Thankfully, we don’t get the car’s European powertrain. The 500L is powered by a turbocharged 1.4-liter MultiAir four-cylinder engine, making 160 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. It comes with your choice of a six-speed manual transmission or a dual-clutch gearbox. Fiat also has the 500L in its Trekking model, which adds a little bit more off-road versatility. The 500L will arrive in mid 2013 and pricing information is to be announced.