It’s spiritual ancestor, the Multipla, ranked somewhere in between a warthog and a sea cow in terms of aesthetic qualities. The only people to buy it were car-haters.
Still, it sold quite well in my country – though I’m not sure about the UK. To illustrate this, according to the latest figures available, there were 3,264 Multiplas in the Netherlands, more than ten percent of the total number of Fiats still running. When Fiat noted the consumers and press weren’t too charmed by the car’s appearance – Top Gear voted it ‘Ugliest Car’ in the year 1999 – they did a thorough refresh when they released the second generation, which turned out to be a totally and utterly anonymous vehicle.
Anyway, Fiat discontinued the Multipla model in 2010. Now, two years later, they came up with something to take the baton: the 500L.
Much like Mini, Fiat seems to plan to exploit the success of its retro model, the 500. Mini is churning out a bunch of variants to its theme, including the Clubman, Countryman, Rocketman, Pacman, Gasman, Policeman, Elephantman and God knows what else. Fiat has already presented a 500 Zagato, a 500 with a down-sloping roofline, and now then the 500L. And bossman Sergio Marchionne has stated there’ll be a couple more.
The ‘L’ stands for large, meaning the 500L is really just a small MPV. Offers space for up to five people, while it takes up only marginally more space than a Punto. Forward motion is provided by a small selection of combustion engines; a 1.3 diesel (85 hp) and a 0.9 (105 hp) and 1.4 (95 hp) petrol. It’s going to be slower than a canal boat. But, knowing Fiat, this will be a smart car, with plenty of interior space, while still being hip as a pair of colour-yourself sneakers.
But it’s still not pretty.
Maybe that’s smart; perhaps now it will attract car-haters and hipsters?