Parkers overall rating: 3.8 out of 5 3.8
  • Four engines to choose from
  • Two petrols and two diesels
  • Diesels offer the best drive

Choosing which engine you’d like powering your 500L Cross shouldn’t be too difficult, with just two petrol and two diesel options.

Petrol engines

If you’re contemplating a petrol 500L Cross, then you’ll be better off staying around town as they can feel a little unresponsive and slow – performance isn’t a priority here.

The entry-level engine is a 1.4-litre unit with 95hp, capable of taking the Cross from 0-62mph in 13.2 seconds and onto a top speed of 103mph. With torque rated at 127Nm, you’ll need to plan overtaking manoeuvres quite far in advance if you’ve ventured onto the motorway.

Providing a bit more shove is a 120hp 1.6-litre turbocharged T-Jet unit. The 0-62mph sprint time falls to 10.2 seconds, and top speed increases to 117mph, while there’s a more useful 215Nm of torque on offer – meaning you get lots more pull at low engine speeds.

If you prefer petrol power then this is the one to have, but you’ll need to make good use of the six-speed manual gearbox to make progress. It’s not one for keen drivers, but it’s perfectly fine for use around town, which is where it’s most likely to spend the majority of the time.

Multijet diesel engines

Kicking off the diesel range is a 1.3-litre Multijet unit producing just 95hp, but a much more usable 200Nm of torque compared with the 95hp petrol.

However, it’s the most sedate of 500L models, taking 14.3 seconds to get from 0-62mph, and will go on to reach 103mph, driving through a five-speed manual transmission.

If you want an automatic transmission, this is the only engine option, but even then it’s an automated manual (Fiat calls it Dualogic) rather than a full-blown automatic, and blunts performance even more. In this form the Cross takes a leisurely 15.5 seconds to amble to 62mph from a standstill, while its top speed is 101mph. it is the most economical though, capable of just over 70mpg, according to Fiat.

Best suited to the Cross, however, is the 1.6-litre Multijet diesel with 120hp. Despite slower performance figures than the 1.4-litre T-Jet petrol, it feels much punchier thanks to 320Nm of torque and a smoother power delivery.

It takes 11.5 seconds to get from 0-62mph, while a 114mph top speed is achievable if you find yourself on an unrestricted piece of road.

Limited gearbox options

All 500L Cross models come with a six-speed manual gearbox, besides the 1.3-litre Multijet, which uses a five-speed transmission (whether it’s manual or semi-automatic).

The former is an easy gearbox to operate with a fairly slick action, while the lever is placed high on the centre console so you don’t have to reach really far down to use it. It falls to hand nice and easily.

The Dualogic transmission available on the 1.3-litre diesel isn’t a conventional automatic – it’s an automated manual – but still changes gear for you without a clutch. It’s just a bit slower to do so than a regular auto, so it suits a more relaxed, unhurried approach to driving.

  • High body means noticeable bodyroll
  • Slightly lifeless steering feels numb
  • Better for use around town than country lanes

A sensible family carryall isn’t something that’s going to excite on a twisty, demanding road, and there’s no good reason why it should. The Fiat 500L lives up to this, with a safe and predictable drive, but it can leave you feeling a little detached from the experience.

Compare it with the more hatchback-like VW Golf SV and it feels a little clumsier. The Golf SV manages to feel balanced and comfortable, yet just like a hatchback to drive, whereas in the 500L Cross you’re made very aware that you’re in a high-riding car with a tall body.

Tip the car into a corner and you notice the body weight shift to one side, and the vague steering contributes to a slightly wayward feeling. It’s not too bad, but you wouldn’t feel confident chucking it into corners. Then again, it’s not that kind of car. 

The ride, however, is good – even on the relatively large 17-inch alloy wheels, and the 25mm raised ride height compared with the regular 500L is probably to thank here. That’s also the reason it can feel a little more roly-poly.

Drive the 500L Cross how it was designed to be driven – that is, around town and not at the edge of grip and traction levels – and it’s a very easy car to get on with. Visibility is very good, and the light steering means manoeuvring the car in town is very easy. The tall, narrow body only aids this further.

Being a Cross model, it offers a little more off-road ability than a regular 500L. What that means in reality, though, is that you can tackle a muddy/gravelly track easier than a normal 500L, largely due to the Traction+ traction control system on offer and the very slightly higher ride height.

It’s a similar system to Peugeot’s Grip Control that adjusts the traction control system based on the road surface you’re driving on. There are fewer options to select on the Fiat though, switchable between normal road, muddy track or Gravity Control (hill-descent control to most of us). Most drivers will never touch this selector though.