A Fiat 500 for all the family
- Good equipment levels
- Stylish interior
- Decent overall practicality
- Easy to understand trim hierarchy
- Below-par petrol engines
- Fixed glass roof ruins rear headroom
- Auto only available on one engine
- Poor expected residual values
Promising to blend much of the nimble nature of its iconic city car cousin with the practicality of a larger people-carrying vehicle is the Fiat 500L Urban.
It’s the lightly-facelifted replacement for the outgoing 500L – with its Urban name tag added to distinguish it further from the SUV-style 500L Cross (nee Trekking) and longer, seven-seater 500L Wagon (formerly MPW).
Out of the three variations on the same theme, the 500L Urban is expected to be the best-selling, entering into the hard-fought compact MPV section of the market, with the Fiat 500X range tackling the more popular crossover segment.
This makes the 500L Urban somewhat tricky to pigeonhole. Cars such as the Ford B-Max, Hyundai ix20 and the closely-related Kia Venga, as well as the Nissan Note, feel like its more natural rivals, but larger options along the lines of the Citroen Berlingo Multispace, Peugeot Partner Tepee and even the pricier Volkswagen Golf SV are all viable alternatives.
Ample practicality hides behind striking looks
Taking the Fiat 500’s styling and injecting into a larger car was always going to be a tricky task, and the result is a mixed response to the 500L Urban’s styling. Some will love its bug-eyed headlights and high-sided profile, while others will see it as an ungainly rip-off of a design classic.
Either way, housed within the 500L Urban’s bodyshell is a stylish and practical cabin with a decent-sized luggage compartment to boot. One major proviso however is the fixed glass roof – standard on Lounge models and optional on Pop Star trim; it severely restricts rear headroom and means that some adults may struggle to sit comfortably in the back.
Four different engines on offer
The two-cylinder TwinAir powerplant hasn’t made its way over to the 500L Urban following its facelift and rename, so the choice of engines is between two 1.4-litre petrols, plus a pair of diesels in 1.3- and 1.6-litre capacities.
Even the most powerful petrol motor feels a little out of its depth in the 500L Urban – especially going up hills – so we’d recommended the 120hp MultiJet diesel (so long as your yearly mileage warrants it).
There’s also a five-speed Dualogic automated manual gearbox on offer should you rather the car take care of gearchanges.
High standard of safety
A key selling point for any family car, the Fiat 500L Urban should be as safe – if not more so – than the 500L which it replaced. The outgoing car achieved a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating back in 2012, excelling on adult occupant protection ratings.
Ample levels of equipment
Even if you opt for the base-spec Pop Star trim, the 500L Urban still comes with a decent level of standard kit including Bluetooth connectivity, air-con, cruise control and a multifunction leather steering wheel.
Options include a number of packs such as the Safety Pack (including Autonomous City Brake), City Pack (with a rear parking camera and automatic folding mirrors) and the Style Plus Pack – featuring privacy glass and ambient interior lighting.
The Parkers Verdict
The Fiat 500L Urban performs well as a more practical, roomier version of its Fiat 500 city car sibling. It boasts a decent ride, good levels of kit and – glass roof aside – is usefully practical. And yet, it fails to top the class in any area, instead performing reasonably well in all but a few. The underwhelming high-emissions petrol engines are a weak point, as are the concerning predicted residual values.
Read the full Fiat 500L Urban review to find out whether it’s good enough to go to the top of the class.