GENEVA PREVIEW: Fiat shows 500L

By Graeme Roberts | 2 February 2012

Fiat reckons 500L is a modern successor to the 1950s 600 Multipla

Fiat reckons 500L is a modern successor to the 1950s 600 Multipla

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Fiat has released first 'official' images of its new 500L ahead of the model's world debut at the Geneva show on 6 March.

500L - the L stands for 'Large' - is an addition to the 500 range which, according to Fiat, "following the Abarth and Cabrio versions, furthers the brand's strategy, with the aim of extending its offer by introducing models in a position to satisfy different types of customers".

"With the 'L', the 500 expands and grows together with customers, to accommodate new experiences and needs once more."

The automaker said the L combines MPV passenger space with the feel of a small SUV on the road and the "restrained dimensions and efficiency" of a B segment car. It "defies the conventional distinctions between the various segments, combining the typical characteristics of different categories in order to create a distinctive alternative to the traditional B and C segments".

This is not dissimilar to the Nissan Europe strategy that five years ago saw models such as the Almera C-segment hatchback, Primera sedan/wagon/liftback and Amero Tino MPV replaced by the segement-straddling Qashqai and, later, Juke crossovers.

The five-seat single-volume 500L is 4,140mm long, 1780mm wide and 1660mm high and is, Fiat said, a modern development of the concept of 'cab forward' introduced with the 1950s 600 Multipla, a larger version of the contemporary rear-engine 500 and precursor to the current concept of the compact 'people carrier'.

The 500L will be produced at Fiat's factory in Kragujevac, Serbia.

It will be launched in Europe in the last quarter of 2012, with, initially, comprise two petrol engines (TwinAir I2 and 1.4-litre I4) and an I4 turbodiesel (1.3 MultiJet II).