The Fiat 500 that’s fun for the whole family

The Italian carmaker has unveiled the latest addition to the Fiat 500 lineup, a seven-seat family car that promises practicality without sacrificing style.

There’s a scene in the 1995 Hugh Grant film Nine Months where Grant’s character, a father-to-be, finally accepts that he will have to sell his beloved sports car and buy something a little bit more family friendly when the baby is born.

That situation, has for years, been the reality for many. Fun, sporty or unusual cars are great for singletons and young couples, but as soon as children come along, practical concerns must prevail and, with one or two notable exceptions like the Ford S Max, when it comes to MPVs, people movers, mini-vans and true family cars, excitement, and thrills and spills are extremely limited.

With the latest addition to the rapidly growing 500 range, Fiat is clearly trying to redress the balance. The 500L MPW or 500 Living as it will be called in continental Europe, attempts to retain the styling and lines that have made the chic city car a modern classic and one of the world’s most in-demand small vehicles, and has tried to graft them onto a large, seven-seat family car frame.

By making the car a full-time five-seater (the sixth and seventh seats fold down into the luggage area and are meant for occasional, rather than constant use), the 500L MPW is smaller than many of its contemporaries (4.35 meters, to be precise) and this reduction in length means an increase in handling, maneuverability and visibility.

The car, the latest extension to the Fiat 500 range, will be available to order from July. AFP pic.The car, the latest extension to the Fiat 500 range, will be available to order from July. AFP pic.And, thanks to the positioning of the roof pillars and prodigious use of glass, the cabin is light and airy and available internal space is optimized. With all rear passenger seats folded down, it offers a remarkable 638 liters of load capacity.

When the car officially launches in July it will come with the choice of two petrol engines – a 95HP 1.4-litre unit and a 105HP 0.9-litre TwinAir Turbo – plus two turbodiesel engines – a 1.6-liter (105HP) and a 1.3-liter (85HP). Each of these engines has proved its worth in terms of fuel efficiency and inner-city driving, but there’s a possibility that they may be lacking when it comes to loading up the car with kids and luggage and heading out on highways for a summer holiday.

Fiat is yet to publish pricing or options lists for the vehicle but has said that it will start taking Italian orders for the car in July before progressively opening its order book up to other European countries. - AFP, June 21, 2013.


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