Fiat 500L Gets Tough

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The Fiat 500 family continues to grow in size and appeal with the introduction of two new models: the 500L Trekking and the 500L MPW (Multi-Purpose Wagon). Fiat began taking orders for the 500L Trekking in June 2013 with prices starting at £17,095. The 500L MPW goes on sale in the UK in September.

Both models use the 500L’s ‘space efficiency’ ethos as a starting point with its segment-topping running costs, performance, versatility and visibility. They then offer different interpretations of an already successful, highly practical yet stylish formula.

The 500L Trekking has been designed to be as at home in the great outdoors as it is on congested city streets. It has a distinctively rugged crossover look with a raised ride height and M+S (Mud&Snow) all-season tyres, plus the clever Traction+ system.

With eye-catching styling features including protective underbody shields and new diamond-finished alloy wheels, the 500L Trekking gives a sportier, more dynamic twist to the 500L concept without compromising its class-leading interior space and functionality.

The 500L Trekking sits at the top of the 500L range above the Pop Star, Easy and Lounge models. It includes a host of large car features already packed in the 500L such as cruise control, the five-inch Uconnect touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth, Air Conditioning and six airbags. Exclusive to the 500L Trekking are specific bumpers, dark tinted windows, Traction+ and unique styling features.

Just like the 500L, the 500L Trekking can accommodate five people in comfort, and has sufficient luggage space in its 400-litre boot to take five suitcases too. It feels spacious inside thanks to the extensive glazing and windscreen pillars that have been split and tapered to give almost 360-degree vision. This, along with a suite of standard safety features, has already made the 500L a EuroNCAP five-star crash safety award winner.

The 500L Trekking becomes the first Fiat to feature City Brake Control as standard. This system has been designed to watch over the driver and either prevent or lessen damage in low-speed collisions. The Trekking model also benefits from Traction+, an electronic system that controls the braking circuit to simulate the behaviour of a self-locking electromechanical differential. This means the front-wheel drive Fiat can tackle the sort of tricky terrain that other two-wheel drive cars would struggle on.

There are four engines: two petrol and two diesel. The multiple award-winning 0.9 TwinAir Turbo 105hp and 1.4 95hp FIRE engine make up the petrol pair. The 1.4 starts the range at £17,095 while the TwinAir is priced at £18,590. In the diesel corner, Fiat’s clever MultiJet II technology appears in 1.3-litre 85hp and 1.6-litre 105hp formats. The 1.3 MultiJet is priced from £18,590, with the 1.6 MultiJet from £19,590. All engines apart from the 1.4 petrol feature Start&Stop. The 1.3 MultiJet with a five-speed Dualogic automatic gearbox is priced at £19,490.

The 500L Trekking is available in a total of 17 colour combinations, with a choice of six finishes inside. It is priced at £700 more than the 500L Lounge and carries a different level of equipment, as well as completely revised styling.

EXTERIOR: SPORTY AND DYNAMIC

While the regular Fiat 500L has a cheery characterful look about it, the 500L Trekking appears sporty and dynamic. It shares the 500L’s ‘seamless glazing’ which makes the most of twin windscreen pillars to give almost 360-degree vision and 30 per cent more front visibility than competitors with a conventional thick A-pillar. While the 500L Trekking features the same cab-forward design – which helps to maximise interior space – it takes on a more purposeful character than the standard 500L. Highlighting this are specially designed bumpers, underbody protection front and rear, plus other style-enhancing details such as satin-finish inserts on the bumpers, side mouldings and door handles.

The 500L Trekking’s high impact rugged appearance is further emphasised by increased ride height and unique tyres. It sits 10 per cent higher than the regular 500L, boosting ground clearance to 145mm, while grippy M+S (Mud&Snow) all-season tyres complete the package.

The 500L Trekking is available in seven different body colours: New Age Cream, Darkwave Black, Heavy Metal Grey, Bossa Nova White, Beatbox Green, Opera Red, and the unique-to-Trekking Hip Hop Yellow. These colours can also be combined with a black or white roof for a two-tone effect, yielding a total of 17 colour combinations.

INTERIOR: FUNCTIONAL AND FLEXIBLE

The Fiat 500L Trekking shares the footprint of the regular 500L. With the same reduction in frontal mass and high roof line along with smaller componentry, it maximises internal space.

In addition to class-leading levels of safety equipment, the 500L Trekking enjoys a high level of standard specification.

Standard equipment includes air conditioning, 5″ touchscreen radio with Bluetooth, and Cruise Control – which are already standard on other Fiat 500L variants – plus specific contents like 17″ alloy wheels, dark tinted windows, City Brake Control and Traction+.

Inside, the 500L Trekking stands apart from the rest of the 500L family thanks to distinctive colour combinations. Drivers wanting a more rugged look are expected to plump for the Magnesio Grey fabric with brown leather inserts and a painted dash. Black fabric with white inserts and a choice between black or white painted dashboard will give a more refined urban ambiance.

Space, functionality and flexibility all come as standard with the 500L Trekking. This model has the same attributes as its 500L sister meaning its ratio between exterior dimensions and interior space is class-leading, while it has more boot capacity than its rivals in the larger small family hatchback segment. It even boasts a large sunroof, with 1.5m2 of glass.

The Fiat 500L Trekking also features a sliding 60/40 split rear seat with space for three passengers. The rear seat boasts the clever Fold&Tumble function which gives a perfectly flat load space from the tailgate to the rear of the front seats. When paired with the folding front seat, the 500L Trekking can carry loads of up to 2.4m in length. The new 500L Trekking has rear parking sensors as standard.

Uconnect

The main controls for in-car ventilation and infotainment are split into two distinct but adjacent zones in the 500L Trekking. The centrepiece of the latter is the new generation Uconnect ‘infotainment’ platform. Uconnect is designed as a multifunction system employing a five-inch touchscreen as the main user interface. The infotainment system is also available with optional digital radio, which combines analogue and digital radio tuner and CD player functions with the ability to connect media players and mobile or smartphones. It enables the driver to access these hands-free simply, quickly and safely.

Media players and phones can be connected via Bluetooth, as well as through the USB port or the AUX-IN socket. An optional satellite navigation system can also be specified to operate with Uconnect.

HiFi by BeatsTM

The top of the range HiFi by BeatsTM sound system will be available in the Fiat 500L Trekking. The system made its debut in the Fiat 500L, and has been specially customised to the shape and size of the car so that it guarantees drivers and passengers a truly unique sound experience.

The 520-watt HiFi by BeatsTM premium sound system includes six door and rear-quarter-mounted speakers, along with an 8-inch Dual-Voice Coil (DVC) subwoofer operating Beats Audio’s exclusive Digital Sound Processing (DSP) algorithm.

The subwoofer guarantees a powerful and dynamic bass range. This uses the spare wheel housing so as not to impact on boot space. Customers who specify the Beats Audio system will be provided with a Fix&Go tyre repair kit.

This mix of hardware (the speakers) and software (the algorithm) is then coupled with a tuning process which delivers an amazing blend of science and artistry. It is a listening experience as close as possible to what the artist intended in the studio.

Options and accessories

As with other versions of the Fiat 500L, the 500L Trekking can be specified with an espresso coffee machine fully integrated into the centre console. In collaboration with Lavazza, Fiat has devised a unique deck that allows the coffee maker to be fitted into the passenger compartment. It then uses Lavazza’s A Modo Mio capsules to make authentic Italian espresso coffee.

Through its Mopar accessories brand, Fiat has designed a series of accessories that are dedicated to the 500L Trekking. There are four new sticker kits designed to let 500L Trekking owners personalise their car to a greater degree. A new satin finish bonnet moulding can be specified to match other brushed chrome features on the car. There will also be an extensive 500L Trekking merchandise line-up, further enhancing the customisable nature of the car.

OFF-ROAD: WHEN THE GOING GETS ROUGH

The Fiat 500L Trekking has a rugged presence, courtesy of the specially designed bumpers and front and rear protective shields. It also boasts a higher ride with ground clearance of 145mm – 10 per cent more than the regular 500L – and it benefits from clever electronics that enable it to switch from being ideally suited to city streets or country tracks at the push of a button.

Traction+

Thanks to Traction+, the Fiat 500L Trekking can handle the kind of tricky terrain that other two-wheel drive cars would find impossible. This innovative traction control system improves handling on difficult and slippery surfaces, but costs far less than conventional four-wheel drive and weighs less, meaning less impact on economy.

Traction+ uses the advanced hardware present on cars equipped with Electronic Stability Control (ESC) to brake spinning wheels and transmit torque to the wheels with better grip. It is activated by pressing a button on the dashboard at speeds of up to 18.6mph.

By using special algorithms to control and manage the braking system, the control unit can simulate the behaviour of a self-locking electromechanical differential. Thanks to optimised software and having force applied through the normal hydraulic braking circuit, Traction+ is much more progressive than conventional systems.

Push the button located down by the gear lever and Traction+ is enabled. On surfaces with differing grip between right and left sides, more torque is transferred to the wheel with the better grip – while the brake is applied to the other one – helping the car to pull away properly. Without Traction+ enabled, the differential transmits the same torque to both front wheels. In this instance, the wheel with the lowest grip will spin, with the other one lacking sufficient torque to get the vehicle moving.

ENGINES: EFFICIENCY AND PERFORMANCE COMBINED

The Fiat 500L Trekking has been designed to appeal to people who like to enjoy the great outdoors. It will be available with a choice of four engines, two Euro 6 rated petrols and two Euro 5+ diesels that are all cost-effective to buy and run. In addition to rigorous on-road testing, Fiat Powertrain Technology has devoted more than 10,000 hours to bench testing so that each engine is optimised for the particular requirements of the 500L Trekking.

1.4 FIRE

The entry level engine for the Fiat 500L Trekking is the 1.4 16v FIRE engine. Renowned for being solid and reliable, this engine delivers a healthy 95hp at 6000rpm and reaches its maximum torque of 127Nm at 4500rpm. This in-line four-cylinder has double overhead camshafts and will do 0-62mph in 13.2 seconds, going on to a top speed of 103mph.

The intake system has been optimised using fluid dynamics to achieve a particularly high volumetric efficiency throughout its operating range. As well as strong performance, this works with a six-speed gearbox to give fuel consumption of 44.1mpg and CO2 emissions of 149g/km.

0.9 TwinAir Turbo

The105hp 0.9-litre turbo with Start&Stop is the latest evolution of the revolutionary TwinAir family of engines. These combine Fiat’s groundbreaking MultiAir technology – now in its second generation – with turbocharging, to enable this small capacity engine to produce a unique combination of economy and performance.

Coupling its two-cylinder architecture with a six-speed manual gearbox, this latest TwinAir engine develops 105hp at 5500rpm and produces its maximum torque of 145Nm at just 2000rpm. As with other TwinAir engines, the Fiat 500L has an ECO mode. This limits the maximum torque to 120Nm and power to 98hp.

The result is 55.4mpg on the combined cycle, along with CO2 emissions of 119g/km. Yet this is a car that will do 0-62mph in 12.6 seconds and has a top speed of 107mph.

The MultiAir II intake valve control system gives optimum thermodynamic efficiency by modulating the exhaust gases recirculated in the combustion chamber, thanks to a brand new intake cam profile. By controlling the flow of air into the engine directly via the inlet valves rather than using the throttle, airflow can be managed cylinder by cylinder, cycle by cycle, phase by phase depending on the driver’s requirements. Thanks to this rigorous control of the combustion process, pumping losses of around 10 per cent are eliminated while emissions are reduced and driveability is boosted through improved throttle response.

The 105hp TwinAir’s cylinder head has been completely redesigned with an integrated exhaust manifold. The exhaust gases are cooled more efficiently under power, resulting in a positive impact on turbocharger operation. When the engine is warming up, part of the heat of the burnt gas is recovered, helping to lower emissions. The turbocharger has a fixed geometry with integrated wastegate and dump valve. Other differences over existing TwinAir engines include a steel camshaft, the driveshaft, thermostat and spark plugs.

One thing that certainly remains is the characteristic two-cylinder ‘thrum’ thanks to a combination of clever sound proofing and employing a balancing countershaft and dual mass flywheel to reduce vibrations.

1.3 MultiJet II

This 85hp engine has been further refined to bring its class-leading blend of performance, low fuel consumption, refinement and compact dimensions to the Fiat 500L Trekking. The 16-valve engine features a small refined variable geometry turbocharger which allows it to deliver higher torque at low speeds. This enables it to be paired with a five-speed gearbox without penalising performance or curbing fuel consumption.

The result is that the 1.3 MultiJet II version of the Fiat 500L Trekking develops its 85hp at 3500rpm, with maximum torque of 200Nm at just 1500rpm. Its maximum speed is 99mph with a 0-62mph time of 15.3 seconds. On the combined cycle, fuel consumption is 65.7mpg with 114g/km of CO2.

The engine’s MultiJet II technology features a latest generation common rail injection system which can execute multiple injections of diesel into the combustion chamber in rapid succession, giving up to eight injections per cycle. This leads to greater speed, flexibility and precision in the various combustion phases. This quick and flexible injection sequence permits ‘rate shaping’ – two injections that are so close together they generate a continuous but modulated supply of fuel to the cylinders. The ability to do this improves the combustion process which in turn makes for a quieter engine, and one that produces fewer particulate and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions.

A close-coupled Diesel Particulate Filter and a built-in Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) system improve the control of temperature and gas flow and guarantee lower emissions plus reduced fuel consumption. The injectors also help cut running costs by having 40 per cent fewer components than their predecessors.

The 1.3 MultiJet II complies with strict Euro 5+ emissions thanks to a new variable geometry oil pump. The engine is fitted with an on/off solenoid valve that varies the pumping capacity according to engine operating requirements. Its smaller capacity means the pump has to process less oil, so it draws less power from the engine. It helps reduce overall engine fuel consumption and thereby reduce CO2 emissions by around two per cent.

Other measures to reduce fuel consumption and emissions include Start&Stop, which helps maximise efficiency around town. There is also a new Intelligent Alternator Module (IAM) which recharges the Fiat 500L Trekking’s battery based on the driving conditions and vehicle status.

When the car is decelerating, the alternator’s charging voltage is set at a high value to make the most of the kinetic energy being generated. When the driver demands high levels of torque, the alternator’s charging voltage is set low to reduce the torque being diverted from the engine. When the car is neither accelerating nor decelerating, the charging voltage is set to ensure optimum charging status. This IAM is also installed on the 0.9 TwinAir and 1.6 MultiJet engines.

A five-speed Dualogic MTA (Manual Transmission Automated) version is also available with this engine. This can either be left to control the gear changes by itself, or for added involvement, the driver can prompt changes by pushing or pulling on the gearlever. This improves economy from 65.7mpg to 67.3mpg and reduces CO2 emissions from 114g/km to 109g/km.

1.6 MultiJet II

The top-of-the-range 500L Trekking will use the 1.6 MultiJet II turbodiesel. This is a popular capacity of engine in the segment, and has been designed to combine economy and comfort with brilliant performance. Since its addition to the 500L range, 20 per cent of sales have been to buyers who have chosen this engine.

With a power output of 105hp at 3750rpm, the lively 1.6 MultiJet has a very healthy 320Nm of torque at 1750rpm. Coupled with CO2 emissions of 122g/km and combined-cycle fuel consumption of 60.1mpg, this ensures the perfect blend of pace and economy.

As with the 1.3, the 1.6 manages this courtesy of Fiat’s MultiJet II technology, while also employing the smaller engine’s Intelligent Alternator Module and variable displacement oil pump. The engine has Start&Stop and a six-speed transmission, and uses low viscosity lubricant to minimise friction.

The exhaust employs Close-Coupled Diesel Particulate Filter (CCDPF) technology which integrates the catalytic converter and particulate trap. This compact component reduces exhaust counter pressure for lower consumption and emissions. The particulate trap component is positioned close to the turbocharger outlet where the gas temperature is hotter, reducing the amount of diesel that has to be burnt for regeneration to take place. Combining the two components also reduces the exhaust system’s weight, further improving overall efficiency. The CCDPF works with the Exhaust Gas Recirculation system.

As well as being clean, the 1.6 will please keen drivers as it gives the 500L Trekking a 0-62mph time of just 12 seconds and a top speed of 109mph. Like the 1.3, routine servicing is every 21,000 miles or two years.

Whether choosing petrol or diesel, buyers can be confident that misfuelling is a thing of the past thanks to the Fiat 500L Trekking’s Smart Fuel system. This is capless, thus removing one phase of the refuelling process. It works by opening and closing automatically when the pump nozzle is inserted and removed. There are specific inlets for petrol and diesel pumps, making it impossible to use the wrong fuel. It also ensures less leakage of vapours from the fuel tank into the environment during refuelling.

Please note that fuel consumption and CO2 figures are obtained for comparative purposes in accordance with EC directives/regulations and may not be representative of real-life driving conditions. Factors such as driving style, weather and road conditions may also have a significant effect on fuel consumption.

SAFETY: FIVE-STAR PERFORMER

As a family car, offering excellent occupant protection was one of the prerequisites of the Fiat 500L family. Consequently, all new models undergo thousands of hours of virtual crash test simulation along with tests performed on components and sub-systems, adding up to more than 100 impact simulations and 100 crash tests.

These incorporate frontal, side and pedestrian impacts, roll overs and pile-ups, while taking into account different sizes of obstacles and occupants. The result is a car that has had safety built into it from the wheels up, both in its structure and in the suite of aids that help to avoid an accident in the first place. That has led to the 500L being awarded a prestigious Euro NCAP five-star rating.

The 500L Trekking features the same safety cell as the standard 500L, complete with twin front windscreen pillars designed in line with current US regulations to improve strength and visibility. There is also a third load path at the front, which guarantees structural uniformity in a frontal impact by transferring impact loads to the bottom of the vehicle. The consistency of the deformation makes the passenger retention systems within the car even more effective, and helps dissipate the energy on impact. It also makes the 500L Trekking less aggressive in the event of a crash into the front or side of another vehicle.

Passive safety

As standard, the Fiat 500L Trekking comes with six airbags: front, window and side. It also features three-point safety belts on all five seats, and double pretensioners and load limiters at the front. The steering column is designed to collapse in a heavy frontal impact, in order to protect the driver and prevent the steering wheel from being pushed upwards.

The Fiat 500L Trekking also features Daytime Running Lights, as well as front fog lights with a self-adaptive cornering function. These light up on the side the car is turning towards to illuminate the ground, as well as giving other drivers added warning of the 500L’s current direction of travel.

Active Safety

The Fiat 500L Trekking features ABS anti-lock brakes, BAS Brake Assist System, and ESC Electronic Stability Control as standard. Incorporating these elements, City Brake Control integrates three other standard functions on the 500L Trekking: Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB), Prefill and Brake Assist. Using the same laser sensors as the City Brake Control, the AEB assesses the position and speed of obstacles and whether they pose a threat or not. If it decides that they do, it applies the brakes automatically while reducing engine torque if the accelerator pedal hasn’t been released.

Prefill primes the braking system to give a quicker response either when the AEB system takes over or in a regular emergency stop. Brake Assist uses sensors to recognise emergency situations and alters the brake pedal’s response to achieve quicker braking in critical situations.

The Fiat 500L Trekking’s ESC is equipped with a variety of other functions. Anti-Slip Regulation (ASR) uses the brakes and engine management to optimise traction at any speed to allow the car to cope with low grip surfaces.

Hill Holder keeps the brakes locked for around two seconds, enabling the driver to pull away on slopes without juggling the parking brake, clutch and accelerator. Motor Schleppmoment Regelung (MSR) intervenes when a brisk gearchange over a slippery surface might cause the wheels to slip or lock. Driving Steering Torque (DST) carries out automatic steering corrections and controls oversteer on low grip surfaces. Electronic Rollover Mitigation (ERM) intervenes when a wheel parts company with the road, or when extreme dynamic movements are detected. It helps restabilise the vehicle and returns control to the driver.

City Brake Control

The Fiat 500L Trekking is the first model in the range to be fitted with City Brake Control as standard. This system is designed to reduce the effects of low-speed collisions in traffic. By sending out laser impulses and registering how quickly they are reflected, City Brake Control can detect remotely how far the car is from other obstacles.

Mounted behind the windscreen, the Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) laser sensor transfers the information it gathers to an electronic control unit for processing. If the control unit calculates that a frontal collision is inevitable and there is no action from the driver, the brakes are applied. Depending on variables such as weather conditions, road surface, and the condition of the tyres, a crash can either be avoided or the consequences minimised. It operates at speeds between 3 and 19mph, thus avoiding activation during low-speed parking manoeuvres or at higher speeds when it could create a dangerous scenario.

NEW FIAT 500L MPW: LARGE GOES EVEN LARGER

The next evolution of Fiat’s 500L concept is the MPW. At 4.35m long, it has the best external dimensions to interior space ratio in its class and is the only car among its peers to boast a 638-litre boot. Yet it remains as compact and agile to drive and park as a mid-size car. Throw in the charm of the 500 and the MPW combines the best elements from multiple segments of car to appeal to a wide range of people.

With an optional third row of seats giving a five-plus-two layout, the 500L MPW gives owners a huge amount of choice in how their car is configured. They can carry up to seven people, or choose a massive load area, or have a combination of the two. Yet at the same time they don’t have to sacrifice any style as the 500L MPW has the same signature ‘Made by Fiat’ design as its sister cars.

A choice of three engines is offered with the 500L MPW: the 0.9 TwinAir Turbo 105hp petrol unit, plus the 1.3 and 1.6 MultiJet II diesel powerplants offering 85hp and 105hp respectively. The 1.3 is also available with the five-speed automatic transmission.

Trim levels

The 500L MPW will be available in Pop Star and Lounge trim levels, both with five or seven seats. As style is an important consideration for owners, there will be 19 colour combinations offered including 11 bicolour paints along with 15 different types of 16- and 17-inch alloy wheels.

Inside, customers can choose from six upholstery options. The Pop Star version can be specified in either black and red or grey and black, while the Lounge is either grey or grey and beige.

Seating

The 500L MPW majors on versatility. Five seats are standard but an extra two in the third row can be specified with a simple ‘one-hand’ mechanism that folds the seats down completely. In seven-seat guise with the third row of seats raised, there are still 168 litres of load space.

In five-seat mode with the sliding second row as far back as it will travel, the luggage compartment has a minimum capacity of 560 litres. With the second row of seats as far forward as it will go, this is increased to 638 litres. The second row can be adjusted longitudinally and separately in 12 positions, and has a 60/40 split folding backrest. A third central head restraint and armrest can be specified as an option.

As with the 500L and 500L Trekking, the Fold&Tumble second row goes fully flat, but in the 500L MPW it liberates 1,584 litres of space. With the front passenger seat folding flat too, objects that are 2.6m long can be carried. The Cargo Magic Space system allows the load platform to be adjusted on three levels to separate a variety of objects.

As with other models in the 500L range, on-board comfort is a priority and so there is a huge range of possible seat adjustment. The driver’s seat can be specified with lumbar adjustment and electric heating, and there is a wide range of options meaning that owners can personalise their space to suit the way they live their lives.

New suspension

In order to make the 500L MPW as comfortable as possible, it has specially adaptable suspension. To absorb bumps in the road and control body roll for excellent lane change response speed, the seven-seat version has been fitted with ‘frequency dependent’ shock absorbers.

These vary the damping according to the operating conditions. On a smoother surface, body roll is reduced to enhance handling and safety. When the going gets rougher, suspension filtering is increased to optimise comfort levels.

The 500L MPW has MacPherson front suspension with a new anti-roll bar. This is made using hollow technology that provides increased performance with reduced weight. The front crossmember has been designed to be very rigid, and therefore achieves greater acoustic comfort. It also has an integrated third load path to improve energy absorption in a collision. Another innovation is the split shock absorber mounting. By transmitting loads to the body through two different routes, road vibrations are better filtered, acoustics are improved, and shock absorption is made more efficient.

The rear suspension uses a torsion beam with a new high rolling rigidity design. This eliminates the need for an anti-roll bar which helps to save weight. Further weight has been saved by using single tube shock absorbers, while hydraulic bushes result in improved comfort. In 5+2 configuration, the rear suspension is reinforced to cope with the additional load.

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