Fortissimo Fiat: We spend some time in the Fiat 500L

Sections: Car Audio, Chassis, Powertrain, Telematics

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Fiat 500L side windows are huge.  So is the dash for a small vehicle.  How Euro!

Fiat 500L side pillar windows are huge. So is the dash for a small vehicle. How Euro! (Brett Solomon photo)

The oxymoronic big Fiat 500L. When you are in the Fiat 500, some of the Italian design is masked by the lilliputian stature of the little vehicle perhaps best known for its appearance as Luigi in the Disney “Cars” movie empire. But the 500L is just plain Euro weird — in a good way.

Check out the glass!  The Fiat 500L has more windows than Dell’s OEM software division. I love the bus-like views from the relatively small car that is big on the inside. Those A-pillar windows are just badass, although you do get a little optical distortion when you look through them. What did you expect with a curve so severe?

Other oddness includes Chrysler’s excellent UConnect system that brings telematics up-to-date as the vehicle arrives in port from the Old World. However, you still get an old-school key that is marked with Italian abbreviations instead of pushbutton start. Magnifico! Today, the vehicle informed me in the instrument cluster that the boot was open. I guess Sergio feels those of us living in the United States are similar enough to those in Inghilterra.

As a car guy, I am fascinated by the Fiat 500L, its awkward design, its Continental origins, and how they fit in the US market. So we’ll see how the big little guy does for the week and if it has Soul, its Versa-tile, and does not Fit into a cube. The engine and tranny are from Italy and it is built in Serbia. The former is the 1.4 liter MultiAir as found in the Abarth. The latter is the 6-Speed Euro twin-clutch transmission. Might one of the Jeep nine-speed ZF units be a better fit for America? Probably not when you are looking for European character and flavor. But then again, they should probably come manual transmission anyway.

We’ll keep you posted and let you know how it performs!

Disclosure: Fiat provided the vehicle, insurance, and a tank of gas.

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