The Fiat 500L MPW is a quirky small MPV with an airy cabin and a big boot but the optional third row of seats is cramped and alternatives come with much better infotainment systems.
The Fiat 500L MPW is a much more practical, but not quite as cute-looking, version of the Italian brand’s retro 500 supermini. Unlike the standard 500L, you can choose to have the larger 500L MPW fitted with an extra row of seats in the boot to let you carry seven people.
In this respect, it’s similar to the Citroen Grand C4 SpaceTourer and Renault Grand Scenic – all are roomier seven-seat alternatives of existing family MPVs. Unfortunately for the Fiat 500L MPW, its bulbous balloon-like looks aren’t a patch on the futuristic Citroen or the comparatively slinky Renault. At least it’ll stand out in a crowded car park, though – if not for particularly favourable reasons.
Thankfully, things improve when you look at the Fiat 500L MPWs interior. It might not be quite as funky as the Grand C4 SpaceTourer inside, but the 500L MPW’s retro white dials, metal-effect air vents and colourful glossy plastic trims make it look much more interesting than the rather drab cabin in a Grand Scenic.
Sure, there are a few hard plastics dotted about the place, most noticeably lower down on the doors and dashboard, but the Fiat 500L MPW feels rugged enough to stand up to the rigours of the school run. The Fiat 500L MPW’s infotainment system’s small screen, clunky menus and low-rent graphics do let the side down a bit, though.
You won’t have any trouble getting comfy in the 500L MPW’s front seats if you’re very tall and the middle row is roomy enough for three adults to sit side-by-side – if not quite as comfortably as in the Renault and Citroen.
You might want to consider the Fiat 500L MPW over the standard 500L if you regularly carry large luggage or a few extra young passengers.
Sadly, the optional third row of seats in the boot is much more cramped. There’s space for two kids, but even small adults will find their knees pushing uncomfortably into the seats in front.
At least the back seats are easy to access using levers that flip the middle row forward, and the Fiat 500L MPW’s large windows mean none of your passengers will feel claustrophobic or car-sick on long drives.
There’s barely any space left in the boot with the rearmost seats occupied, but fold them forward and you’ve plenty of space for a baby buggy and some suitcases. You can also fold down the middle row if you need to carry something large like a bike or some flat-pack furniture.
Navigating the Fiat 500L MPW through crowded car parks with plenty of luggage in tow is a doddle. The steering is very light and the large windows give you a great view out. The Fiat’s suspension does a reasonable job smoothing out bumps around town and its tall body doesn’t lean a great deal on twisty country roads, either.
The Fiat 500L MPW’s 1.4-litre petrol engine is a good choice if you take in a mix of motorway and town driving, but one of the 1.3-litre and 1.6-litre diesel units will be more suitable if you do lots of long journeys. You can also get the 1.3-litre model with an automatic gearbox to save you making numerous gearchanges in heavy traffic – just don’t expect it to feel particularly spritely when you accelerate hard.
Cruise control comes as standard across the 500L MPW range, but only high-spec Trekking models come with automatic emergency braking. Despite this, if you’re looking for a practical MPV with space in the very back for an occasional sixth and seventh passenger, the Fiat 500L MPW is worth considering. Check out our Fiat 500L MPW deals to see how much you can save on one.