Wednesday, September 26, 2012
The first images of what appears to be the US Fiat 500L have surfaced in the Italian media. The new Fiat 500L hit the Italian market over the weekend and tucked away in all the press imagery were glimpses of what we should see next spring at our local Fiat Studio.
Externally, the US Fiat 500L has been given a makeover for a smoother, more integrated look without all the black trim used on the Euro 500L. The front facia has been subtly reshaped and features a body colored bumper and a new grill pattern. The rear has been altered the most and, along with the elimination of the black "bumper", has had the lower portion extended noticeably.
Take a ride in the new Fiat 500L at Fiat's Balocco test facility. This car is equipped with the US spec 165 hp 1.4L MultiAir Turbo backed with the 6 speed DDC transmission.
In Europe, the Fiat 500L offers numerous engine options: the 105 hp .9L TwinAir, the 85 hp 1.3L MultiJet II diesel, and a 95 hp 1.4L MultiAir that is similar to the 101 hp engine used in the US spec Fiat 500. However, the US Fiat 500L will use an uprated version of the Fiat 500 Abarth's engine, rated at 165 hp - up 5 hp over the Abarth's specs. According to sources, the engine will not utilise a Sport mode, which typically tightens the steering effort, increases the throttle response, and in the case of the 500 Abarth, bumps the engine torque up by 20 lbs.ft.
Transmissions in the cars tested were the 6 speed Dual Dry Clutch C635 first seen in the Alfa Romeo MiTo and used in the new Dodge Dart. This DDC transmission is considered the overall class benchmark and boasts a 6 percent advantage in fuel efficiency compared to a conventional manual transmission. For the US, its shift characteristics have been tuned to provide softer engagement for a more refined feel. There is talk the 500L will also offer a conventional six speed manual.
In Italy, the Fiat 500L has been well received, the class leading room, airy cabin and the multitude of configurations being praised. Also mentioned in at least one publication is how the car looks much better in person. The author saying:
"The shapes which appear in brochures awkward and disproportionate to the car body, observed in person suddenly become balanced and proportionate, making the model much more pleasant to view, thus conferring on the 500L an unexpected sense of harmony... the car in person is much more graceful than in photography."*
Fiat DCT Transmission
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