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Monday, January 28, 2013

Fiat 500L at the Detroit Auto Show

Fiat 500L

The Fiat 500L made a tremendous splash at this year's Detroit Auto Show. Fiat showed off three 500L models including a 500L Trekking and had the media clamoring to gain access to the cars, which, for the most part were locked up. I was given a preview of the car and came away impressed. Here are some images for you to enjoy.

1956 Fiat Multipla 6 seater
The 1956 Fiat 600 Multipla could seat 6 passengers within its 139 inch length. Built off of the Fiat 600 sedans chassis, it pioneered cab forward design and paved the way for the modern small MPV.

In Europe, the mini MPV (Multi-Purpose Vehicle) segment is growing in popularity. They are bridging the gap between traditional sedans and larger minivans for the active family on the go that needs extra room. Fiat is no stranger to this segment, with the 1956 Fiat 600 Multipla considered by many as the first modern MPV. This 1950's era car was the length of a modern Fiat 500 (139 inches) yet could comfortably carry 6 passengers. It was an outstanding example of space utilization and packaging, which has become a hallmark of Fiat passenger car design

Fiat 500L

The Fiat 500L is the natural continuation of this design heritage and benefits from decades of Fiat expertise in maximising interior space within the confines of compact dimensions.

The Fiat 500L measures out to be 167 inches long, about 2 feet longer than a standard Fiat 500 hatchback. Within this extra 2 feet of space, the Fiat 500L packs in a massive 42 percent more interior volume than the standard 500. In fact, the interior of the Fiat 500L is so large it meets EPA Large Car size interior standards (a Chrysler 300 sized car!).

Fiat 500L

The designers of the Fiat 500L wanted the car to set standards in its segment for interior room and versatility. A bright airy interior was created to give the feeling of openness and freedom, where the occupants could enjoy the outside world while being in a safe and secure vehicle.

Fiat 500L headlight

The Fiat 500L abounds with intriguing details. The headlights are modern bi-halogen and integrate with the smooth details of the overall design. They flow over the car and tie in the front and side aspects of the car.

Fiat 500L twin A pillars

The Fiat 500L signature twin A pillar design. It is used to give the Fiat 500L a panoramic like view from the inside but also to meet Fiat's demanding safety goals. The anterior pillar design provides a secondary load path for crash energy. Without it, a singular A pillar would have had to been made massive and curtailed the open space look the designers envisioned for the 500L's interior.

Fiat 500L windows

The glazing on the Fiat 500L wraps all the way around for a seamless look.

Fiat 500L D pillar detail

This window is polycarbonate and blends into the greenhouse. This is the first application of this material in a volume car and is an example of the design leadership Fiat brings to the affordable car segment. There is a subtle wing on the side window that smooths out exiting airflow. Those who think the Fiat 500L D pillar window shape was borrowed from the Mini Countryman should note that Fiat first used this design cue on the 2003 Fiat Panda, which predates the Countryman by seven years.

Fiat 500L windows

The greenhouse wraps all the way around and again, helps tie the sides and rear of the car together. This visually lengthens the rather upright Fiat 500L.

Fiat 500L taillights

Taillights on the Fiat 500L wrap around and can be seen from the side

Fiat 500L doors
Doors on the Fiat 500L open wide for easy access.

Specific attention was paid to the shapes of each interior feature to harmonize with the overall design of the car; the dashboard, door panels, the design of the steering wheel and all the smallest details all relate to the smooth and rounded shape of the body

The the 500L was centred on the “cab forward" design theme and features wide angle views for the driver and passengers and comfortable, elevated seating positions. The high beltline contributes to a sense of security inside the car but also helped the Fiat 500L to achieve excellent results in the Euro NCAP side crash tests.

Fiat 500L Lounge front seats

The Fiat 500L is 6 inches wider and taller than the 500 hatchback, enabling the 500L to boast best in class headroom and front seat legroom. This was a Lounge model that features leather interior. Seats are wide and comfortable.

Fiat 500L Instrument Panel

Instrument gauges are readable at a glance.

Fiat 500L steering column

The steering column on the Fiat 500L adjusts in and out and up and down.

Fiat 500L Uconnect

Standard in the Fiat 500L is a 5 inch touchscreen featuring Chrysler's Uconnect 5.0 hands-free connectivity and entertainment system that, besides the usual blue tooth phone functions, allows you to control the radio via voice commands. This is the optional Uconnect 6.5 system that sports a large 6.5 inch touchscreen and includes navigation and a premium media hub center with SD card reader.

Fiat 500L glove boxes

Active families need plenty of storage areas, and the Fiat 500L doesn't disappoint. There are three storage compartments in the dashboard alone. Each door has a large storage tray that can hold an abundant amount of the usual paraphernalia one accumulates during long journeys.

Fiat 500L media hub

Much thought went into the systems and controls to make the 500L easy to use and connect to various electronic media. Below the standard air conditioning is the easily accessed premium media hub center with SD card reader, USB and AUX connector.

Fiat 500L center console

Two of the six beverage/cup holders. Note the power outlet.

The Fiat 500L comes equipped with a six speed manual transmission or a segment-exclusive six speed dual dry clutch transmission (DDCT). The Electronic Stability Control on/off button is located in the center console along with a uniquely shaped parking brake lever that takes up minimal space.

Fiat 500L overhead console

The Fiat 500L Lounge model has a self dimming rear view mirror. Just past the roof mounted courtesy lights is a fold away rear seat monitor mirror. Just the kind of thoughtful touch you would expect in a true family oriented car.

Fiat 500L door pocket with beverage holder

A look at the map pocket/storage bin in the rear door. There is a beverage holder in each of the doors.

Fiat 500L rear seats

Created especially to be versatile for an active lifestyle, the rear seats of the Fiat 500L adjusts both fore and aft, allowing you to expand the luggage compartment to accommodate bulky items.

Fiat 500L rear seats

The rear seat back can also be adjusted for comfort.

Fiat 500L rear seat adjuster

Rear seat fore and aft adjuster lever is easy to reach...

as is the rear seat recliner lever.

Rear seats on the Fiat 500L fold down or...

Flip forward quickly and easily. In Europe, the Fiat 500L will offer third row rear seating and this flip and fold seat configuration will make access to the third row easy.

Rear seat passengers have plenty of foot room and their own heater and A/C duct.

The Fiat 500L Trekking is billed as the adventurous side of the 500L lineup.  Sporting fender flares and sideskirts along with unique front and rear facias, the 500L Trekking is rugged and sporty.  Larger 17 inch wheels and satin finished accents distinguish this 500L from the others.

The Fiat 50L Trekking features different interior color combinations and seat patterns and materials.

The 500L Trekking slots into the middle of the 500L model range which consists of the Pop, Easy, the Trekking and Lounge. I'll have all the information on these models in upcoming posts.

Fiat's Samantha Skowronek
The Fiat 500L and brand ambassador Samantha Skowronek - both drew much attention from the attending media at the Detroit Auto Show.

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