FIAT Launches 500L-based MPV

It's not every day you see a supermini being turned into a people carrier, but that's exactly what FIAT, in their infinite wisdom, have done with the 500L MPW. Let's be honest, the 500L (where the "L" is supposedly shorthand for "Large") isn't exactly a supermini either, but the MPW is a little bit less so - there's an extra 20cm in the body length over the 500L, yet FIAT flaunts the fact it's still the smallest car in its class.

This has a dramatic effect on the load capacity from the outset. The 5 seater version has up to 638 litres of boot space with the rearmost row moved forwards, well up on the 343 litres of the smaller L and considerably more than many hatchbacks or 5-seat estate cars - buy a Volvo V70 and you can expect 'just' 575 litres.

Of course if you opt for the 5+2 seat car you're down to a derisory 168 litres of boot space in seats-up mode - the Jaguar F-Type has more and is mocked for it. You'll also have noticed the "5+2 seat" monicker, rather than "7 seat" since, like most cars of this ilk, the rearmost seats are for the younger and shorter amongst us - FIAT say they're suitable for people under 165cm (5 feet 5 inches).

The MPW is available with four engine choices, two petrol (1.4 litre 95hp, 0.9 litre TwinAir 105hp) and two diesel (1.3 litre 85hp and 1.6 litre 105hp), with an automatic transmission option only available on the 1.3 Multijet diesel.

Two trims are available too. The entry level 'Pop Star' is pretty comprehensively specced with air conditioning, a 5-inch touchscreen infotainment system and rear parking sensors, while the 1,500 option 'Lounge' trim adds rear electric windows, front fog lights, automatic headlamps, rain sensors and an electric glass sunroof, amongst other accoutrements.

Available from: Now
Priced from: 15,795 (5 seat), 17,990 (5+2 seat)


Like the 500L, the MPW isn't really based on a FIAT 500 at all - the underpinnings are largely shared with the FIAT Doblo van - and this causes pause. The Doblo is already a perfectly serviceable 5 or 7 seat car, with an even bigger boot and very practical sliding side doors. It also undercuts the 500L MPW by two thousand pounds and is attracting higher praise for driving and as an overall package than the standard 500L.

But it has to be said that the Doblo is a bit utilitarian and isn't a looker, whereas the MPW is much more appealing in both respects - even if the application of the 500-brand face is misguidedly over the top.

Still, that two grand hop buys you a lot of kit and sophistication and plenty more schoolyard cachet - the MPW is a classy choice even if it's not an wholly rational one. If you can live with that sub-convertible boot in 5+2 mode there's plenty to recommend it.

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