£19,355 - £21,855 Price range
67 - 72 MPG
If the Fiat 500L stretched the firm’s small car brand image with its unusual styling, the 500L MPW – standing for “multi purpose wagon” – pushes it to the point where buttons are catapulting off it in all directions.
The car’s looks will not be easy to get used to, but the story behind the extended rump is extra space and the option of seven seats, costing an extra £700.
But does this extra practicality enhance the 500L’s characteristics to the point where the MPW becomes an appealing option?
Critics are a little unsure, not least because the extra practicality is optional, and Fiat hasn’t really focussed on providing the MPW with a bit more shove to haul its extra weight around.
Cheapest to buy: 1.3-litre Pop Star diesel
Cheapest to run: 1.3-litre Dualogic Pop Star diesel
Fastest model: 1.6-litre Lounge diesel
Most popular: 1.6-litre Lounge diesel
The 500L’s interior was already highly-rated and the good news is the MPW is little different – it has a neat cabin which reviewers praised for being stylish as well as practical, with logically positioned controls and comfortable seats that feel well built and able to withstand tough family life.
The MPW’s biggest selling point are the sixth and seventh seats, but you may be disappointed to learn they’re best used occasionally rather than constantly. They flip out of the boot floor and even slightly larger children won’t be that comfy on a longer trip.
With the two extra seats in place, boot space is demoted to just 168 litres – hardly enough to carry all passenger luggage on a longer trip. When the extra seats are stowed away or not selected at all, there are 638 litres of space available – 238 more than the regular 500L.
There is plenty of headroom and legroom for everyone, although again, the centre seat in the middle row is probably best suited for a child.
You’re unlikely to buy a 500L MPW with corner-carving in mind, but the car still acquits itself well.
The ride quality is good though can get a bit bouncy on country roads, and any body-roll is kept well in check – reviewers generally found the driving experience civilised and predictable, good attributes for a family car.
The good news is that, for family holidays, the MPW also works well on the motorway, feeling quite at home with motorway traffic, and riding better at higher speeds than at lower ones.
All the controls are light to use – the steering especially so when the ‘City’ button is pressed to boost assistance – and the large windscreen affords a great view of the road ahead, for a confidence-inspiring drive.
There are a number of engines available for the 500L MPW, and none of them are particularly powerful, although the MPW has a more laid back and leisurely image than a sporting one.
Beginning with petrol engines, the turbo-charged 0.9-litre is the tiniest option, but produces an impressive 105hp. There is a more conventional 1.4-litre petrol available that has 95hp, although this becomes strained under pressure.
If you need a petrol engine it’s probably better to opt for the new 1.4-litre T-Jet, which is turbo-charged and produces a healthy 120hp.
Experts are most familiar with the 1.6-litre four cylinder Multijet diesel, an engine capable of returning 62.8 mpg combined if you’re exceedingly gentle and never carry any passengers. It’s the engine best-equipped in dealing with the MPW’s extra weight, but it still isn’t quick and can prove noisy when extended.
The 1.6-litre Multijet II diesel available from 2014 is probably the soundest all-round choice, producing 118hp and achieving over 61mpg.
In the 500L MPW it's available in a 105 PS output, and while performance figures aren't forthcoming Fiat does claim 58.9 mpg combined economy. That sounds great, but it's known to be a struggle to hit the TwinAir's official figures - so expect economy in the 40s instead.
We'll update this page with more information when testers get their hands on the car.
There are no reviews of it in the regular 500L either, so it's hard to say whether it's worth buying. In the regular 500 and other Fiats like the Panda it's a peppy, frugal little unit, but the 500L MPW's weight will likely blunt its performance.
Economy though is excellent, at least on paper - 67.3 mpg with the manual, 70.6 mpg with the Dualogic auto. Each will set you back just £20 a year in vehicle tax, too.
Check back soon for more reviews of the 500L MPW 1.3 Multijet.
We can tell you it does 45.6 mpg combined though, and it should be easier to get close to this figure than the TwinAir gets to its own combined numbers. Tax is a so-so £140 a year though, which may put some buyers off. With 95 PS to call upon performance should be reasonable unless you really start to load up the car.
Keep checking back for more reviews of the 500L MPW.
Thankfully, more than a few of those are down to the car's ungainly shape, though the engine isn't perfect either. The 104-horsepower lump delivers a 0-62 time of 12.2 seconds but never feels "more than adequately fast". You need to work the engine hard to make the best of it and it can get a little noisy under acceleration.
It's best between around 2,000 and 4,000 rpm according to one review, and at a cruise the noise settles down too. A slick manual transmission helps you make the most of the car's limited grunt.
General consensus is that if you're aiming to transport plenty of people or things, it's the engine to go for - anything less may feel decidedly slow when asked to work hard.
The 500L MPW is a reassuringly safe car, which is good seeing as it’s family-orientated – six airbags, including full length curtain airbags for rear passengers, are fitted as standard, and all seats get three-point seat-belts, including the two rearmost ones.
It’s not been officially tested yet in Euro NCAP conditions but as the 500L achieved five stars, one would assume the MPW continues the tradition.
One of the optional electronic systems scans the road for objects in front of the car and can recognise obstacles on a collision course, braking the car to standstill if the driver does not react.
The 500L MPW shouldn’t break the bank to keep on the road – all engines fall outside the higher tax brackets and are reasonably frugal, although you may sacrifice the fuel consumption somewhat to keep the MPW moving briskly.
The pricing of the car is fairly competitive too, as you’ll only pay £800 more for an MPW over a regular 500L, not that much considering the extra metal.
By the time you’ve paid the further £700 for the two extra seats you may want to begin considering other options – the Kia Carens is a little cheaper than the MPW and comes with seven seats as standard, is generally more practical, and has a generous seven-year warranty.
The 500L MPW is a mixed bag – on the one hand it offers a good deal of extra space over the 500L it’s based on for not a lot of extra money, and there’s also that seven-seat option if you really need it, and the interior is as good as any other 500L.
On the other hand, the styling is an acquired taste, you have to pay for the extra seats which are rather stingy on space for the passengers occupying them, and there are more practical vehicles available for same amount of money.
Fiat hasn’t really given the MPW any new engines, or tweaked the current ones so that there is more power to shift the extra people and luggage, so as a result it can also feel quite slow.
For those who like the looks and think that the 500L MPW still honours the quirky image held by the original 500, then go for it, but understand that there are alternatives that can do everything better in some way or another.