Fiat 500L (2013) Review

Fiat 500L (2013) At A Glance

3/5

+Unique looks. Some fun cabin flourishes. Tall and spacious. Cheap to run with the right engine. Good safety

-Lower-priced engines are uneconomical and slow, suspect cabin quality. Expensive further up the range.

Insurance Groups are between 7–18
On average it achieves 76% of the official MPG figure

The 500L is an MPV bearing the name of a genuinely iconic small Italian car born in the 1950s. There were in fact bigger versions of the original 500 but never anything remotely this big. Big is relative, of course, and by today’s standards the 500L is a small MPV in the vein of the Citroen C3 Picasso and Ford B-MAX.

That means it seats five with a design whose purpose is maximising interior space. There’s an MPW version that’s even longer and seats seven, too. It’s a Fiat 500 by way of design details only.

They’re details like the gawky front end, two-tone paint job and vaguely minimalistic interior. And options including a flask-sized Lavazza espresso machine that plugs into the centre console and pumps out tar-like hits of warm caffeine, just the way the Italians like it.

Design flourishes aside, this is fairly standard small MPV stuff - where standard means 'nothing special'. The cabin comprises mainly hard and cheap-feeling plastics and where a Golf Plus or Ford B-MAX have big car ambience, the 500L tends to feel like a bulked-up cut price runabout.

That’s because it suffers from an uncomfortable driving position - especially for taller folk because the seat is set too high and the pedals too close - while refinement is average at best.

There’s a wide choice of versions though, with three trim levels, five engines and three body styles (technically) - the crossover-style Trekking counts as separate model, so says Fiat, alongside the standard version and the seven-seater.

The trim range begins at Pop and goes through Pop Star and Lounge, while Trekking versions get extra kit including plastic body cladding, extra ground clearance and winter tyres. Plus there’s the marketing tie-up that brings you the Beats Edition, based on the Trekking - because Dr. Dre definitely drives a Fiat 500L. It gets an upgraded stereo.

Standard kit is as you’d expect, with plastic wheel trims and warm air for base models, meaning you’ll need Pop Star spec for alloys and air conditioning. That said, all cars come with a five-inch (and fiddly) touchscreen media system, a cabin-enhancing body coloured gloss panel for the dashboard and the very useful ‘Cargo Magic Space’ system that allows all the seats bar the driver’s to be folded completely flat.

In addition every car gets six airbags, which contribute to the 500L’s five-star Euro NCAP safety rating - a reassuring fact for family buyers. If you buy a 1.3-litre MultiJet 85PS diesel with an automatic gearbox you’re looking at 70.6mpg average fuel economy. That said, buy a base model 95PS 1.4-litre petrol and economy tanks to 45.6mpg, which is quantifiably poor. 

The FIAT 500L range is built at the former Zastava factory at Kragujevac in Serbia.

FIAT 500L 2012 Road Test

FIAT 500 Trekking 2013 Road Test

FIAT 500 Cross 2017 Road Test

 

Real MPG average for a Fiat 500L (2013)

RealMPG

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance

76%

Real MPG

30–65 mpg

MPGs submitted

98

Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

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Ask Honest John

Do I need to get my Fiat TwinAir serviced at a Fiat garage?
"I am wondering whether I need to get my Fiat 500L TwinAir serviced at a Fiat garage or if a regular garage would do the job just as well? There isn't a warranty issue so that isn't such a factor."
Definitely, absolutely not. The TwinAir engine requires a specific Fiat Selenia oil and if it doesn't get it, it can fail. Fiat dealers are among the cheapest franchised dealers for servicing anyway.
Answered by Honest John
Can I get all weather tyres fitted on my new car instead of what the manufacturer puts on?
"When I order a new car for Spring 2018 I would like it on all season tyres rather than what the manufacturer is fitting at the time. What would be the best approach to achieve this?"
You'll have to do a deal, but the car will come from the factory with whatever tyres the factory fits. You can't specify all season tyres except on a Renault Captur, a Peugeot 2008 with Grip Control, a Peugeot 3008 with Grip Control or a FIAT Panda or 500L Trekking. Anything else, the dealer (or you) will have to try to re-sell the tyres the car came on. Probably cheaper to simply get the all weather tyres fitted yourself and try to sell the standard tyres on eBay.
Answered by Honest John
Fiat 500L depreciation
"I bought a Fiat 500L trekking in April 2014 for £21,300, a year later I was offered a part-exchange value of around £11,000 from the same Fiat dealer. I am appalled that such a run of the mill car can drop half its value in a year. What can I do? "
You must have paid full list price for it in the first place which wasn't very astute. But it's a good car, so, given its drop in value, the most sensible thing to do now is to keep it for another couple of years and allow the depreciation to amortise.
Answered by Honest John
Which MPV?
"For the last 16 years or so I've driven Ford Galaxy, save for a two year dalliance with a Peugeot 807. But it's time to get something a little smaller and more economical. Can I do that and retain the ability to occasionally have enough seats to accommodate up to six grandchildren ranging from 1 to 14 years old? I've looked at the Grand C-MAX and it seems to suit but I was rather taken by the looks of the Fiat 500L and also wonder if I should think about the Toyota Verso. Budget is £8000 plus my 166,000 mile 56-plate Galaxy 2.0 petrol. I'd like cruise control, and to be able to get 40+mpg."
I've tested the 7 seater version of the FIAT 500L and it's truly awful. £8k + your Galaxy wouldn't get you one anyway. Toyota Verso 1.8i Valvematic Multidrive S is okay.
Answered by Honest John

What does a Fiat 500L (2013) cost?