I recently had the chance to drive the Trekking variant, which is the range-topper and is certainly more Mini Countryman-like in its appeal. The black cladding under the doors and silver bash plates, both front and rear, give the car a more rugged appeal.
Inside, the car is pleasant, featuring the black and white contrasting theme with leather combination seats and gloss dashboard offset by the occasional rough plastic. It is fairly practical with a 412-litre boot, which can be increased to 455 by sliding the rear seats forward.
The car does feel quite well-built though and with features like the Uconnect infotainment system, multi-function steering wheel, cruise control, PDC, six airbags and a panoramic roof it is well-kitted.
The T-Jet model is powered by the familiar 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol motor that we’ve seen do duty in the Fiat 500 Abarth and Alfa Mito. In this application it produces 88kW/215Nm and is claimed to use 7.0 litres/100km although I only managed a figure of 8.3 litres/100km.
The engine itself is a gem along with the six-speed gearbox, which makes for effortless progress. The all-terrain tyres do make for a slightly compromised ride versus the standard car. However, they do give the car that added off-road dimension.
The name of this model alludes to a degree of off-road ability as does a button in the centre console which reads: Traction+, which is basically a differential. When activated, the system detects wheel-spin and will send more power to the wheel with superior traction to help the car get out of sticky situations.
Overall, the Fiat 500L has never hit the spot for me; the Trekking model is a bit better but there is the 500X coming soon, which looks like a more convincing variant of the ever-green 500.