- Practical, flexible and spacious
- Inexpensive to run
- Multitude of customisation options
- Challenging styling
- Third row of seats optional
- Lacks spirit of baby 500
Fiat’s latest family-friendly offering is the distinctive 500L MPW, the largest member yet of the 500 sub-brand, with space inside for up to seven people.
Think of it as a 500 ‘XL’ and you’ll be along the right lines, for the MPW is essentially a longer-bodied version of the recently introduced 500L compact MPV. But whereas the regular 500L is pitched against the likes of Ford’s B-MAX, the MPW bridges the gap to the larger C-MAX twins.
Known as the Living elsewhere in Europe, the 500L MPW, for multi-purpose wagon (and even my personal world according to Fiat’s marketing department), is claimed to appeal universally to men, women and children, who will appreciate its space, practicality and unique looks.
Those looks are, unsurprisingly, the MPW’s biggest talking point. Sure, it looks 500-esque from the front but from thereon in, it looks like what it is – a tall estate-cum-MPV. However, not only does that elongated tail liberate up to 1,584 litres of cargo space, it’s also more aerodynamic than the existing 500L, reducing both fuel consumption and wind noise, despite the 30kg weight penalty for the additional bodywork.
UK prices and specifications are yet to be finalised but early indications suggest that the five-seater 500L MPW will have a £750 price premium over the existing model, with the addition of a pair of extra seats adding a similar figure again.
Even more space inside
In standard form, the Fiat 500L MPW remains a versatile five-seater estate with a sliding second row of seats but with an enormous 638 litre boot. In spite of Fiat pointing out that the MPW provides the most interior space for the external dimensions of a car in this class, you would have to regularly need to transport large amounts of cargo in order to justify the financial outlay over the existing 500L.
Where it begins to make more sense is when you opt for the third row of seats and turn the MPW into a seven passenger car. Fiat is at pains to describe it as a 5+2, indicating that the rearmost chairs are suitable for children and smaller adults, so forget any ideas of ferrying about six burly rugby players with you.
Even with the third row in use, and considering the 500L MPW’s modest 4.35m length, there’s still 168 litres of boot space, enough for two small suitcases.
Regardless of the rest of the interior trim, the third row of seats are upholstered in black fabric which quickly and easily fold flat into the boot floor when not required. It’s worth noting that in 5+2 seater guise, the middle row no longer slides fore and aft but is nevertheless spacious enough for three adults.
Embracing the 500 fun factor
As the sixth member of the Fiat 500 family, which is set to grow to seven in 2014 with the introduction of the four wheel drive 500X, the MPW’s take on the cheeky detailing of the diminutive 500 city car feels a little tenuous. It maintains the frontal styling theme of the bluff nose and a pair of oval headlight units at either side but beyond that there’s little that shouts ‘500’ at you aside from the liberal application of badges.
That said, there are a huge range of personalisation options and with up to 282 colour, wheel and interior schemes to choose from, the chances of seeing another 500L MPW identical to the one you have purchased are slim. Various designs of alloy wheels are on offer in 16 and 17 inch sizes, while the roof can be specified in the body colour, white or black.
Just two trim levels will be sold in Britain: Pop Star is brighter and funkier with lots of body-coloured detailing inside, while the Lounge version caters for those looking for a more traditional taste in luxury, so expect beiges and greys to dominate the interior.
Exact specifications and prices for the UK market are still to be finalised ahead of the expected September on sale date, but Fiat indicates that the MPW is likely to be slightly better equipped than the existing 500L.
Economical to run
From launch, the Fiat 500L MPW will be available with a choice of a single petrol engine and two diesels, all of which are turbocharged.
Fiat’s well-known 0.9-litre TwinAir engine is the petrol choice, delivering 105bhp and 145Nm of torque to the front wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox. With a claimed fuel consumption of 54.7mpg and CO2 emissions of 112g/km it offers a reasonable performance and economy balance.
Greater frugality is offered by the 63.6mpg 1.3-litre MultiJet II diesel, with 85bhp and 200Nm of torque delivered through a choice of manual and automatic MTA gearboxes, each with five-speeds. At 110g/km it’s the greenest powerplant in the line-up.
If diesel appeals but you need greater performance, then look at the 105bhp 1.6-litre MultiJet II. 320Nm of torque is produced at just 1,750 rpm from this refined motor but economy drops to 60.3mpg and 117g/km of CO2.
So, will the MPW appeal to buyers who want the chicness of the baby 500 in a versatile, seven-seater form? Read the complete Parkers Fiat 500L MPW review to find out.