Fiat 500l: 500 Goes Large
SLOUGH, UNITED KINGDOM – Marc 1,2013: The widely acclaimed Fiat 500 family has expanded dramatically with the launch of the all-new 500L. Designed for customers who want a car that combines the 500’s unique personality, style and image with added practicality, capability and size, the five-door 500L goes on sale at the end of the first quarter of 2013.
The Fiat 500L mixes user-friendly technology with eco-friendliness and plenty of space, all wrapped up in a characterful package. This combination of Italian style together with Fiat’s unique ability to conceive and design cars that are innovative in substance and form, makes it much more than just a typical mini MPV.
By expanding on its concept of ‘space efficiency’, Fiat has developed the new 500L, combining practicality and internal flexibility to produce a distinctive and versatile vehicle, while incorporating the spirit and attitude of the 500.
The ‘cab forward’ design frees up passenger space inside. It means the Fiat 500L can easily accommodate five passengers with five suitcases. The 500L also has a spacious feel thanks to extensive glazing. This includes windscreen pillars that have been divided and tapered to improve visibility and increase the car’s strength in case of a collision. A knock-on effect is that the Fiat 500L has already been made a five-star car crash safety by Euro NCAP.
Although it will be classified as a mini-MPV, the Fiat 500L has the 500’s fun, cool and cheeky attitude to ensure it appeals to owners who want more than just a functional family car. As well as being the most space-efficient passenger car in relation to its size, it has the widest range of colours in its segment. Compared to its rivals it has the cleanest petrol engine, the best passenger volume index, the biggest touchscreen radio and the largest glass roof on sale. There’s an enormous range of options specifically designed to make life with the 500L better. And it continues the Fiat tradition of offering technical solutions that make life simple while being easy to operate.
Fiat believes this unique ownership proposition will ensure that 500L owners won’t be pigeon-holed into regular demographic groups. Age, geographical location, job and income won’t define them; their attitude to life will. They’ll be the sort of people who are looking for a car to be an extension of their personality and reflect their passion for life. They’ll always be hunting out new fashion trends, love customisation and embrace new technologies. They will grow as people without growing out of their passion for style, design and early adopting.
Continental buyers of the Fiat 500L have already proved this by coming from a wide range of backgrounds. Fifty seven per cent of 500L customers migrate from other brands with 61 per cent from other segments including 37 per cent from the B segment, 16 per cent from the C segment and 8 per cent from the A segment.
To cater for this variety of owner, great care and attention was paid to the technology and materials used inside. The Fiat 500L becomes the first of the company’s cars to use the new UConnect touch screen infotainment system. This allows media players and mobile phones to be connected to the car and controlled via voice, the steering wheel or touch screen. The 500L also has available City Brake Control, a system designed to watch over the driver and either prevent or lessen the damage in low-speed collisions. And there are some other unique options. It’ll become the first car ever to have a Lavazza coffee maker built into it. There is a Beats by Dr Dre in-car sound system for audiophiles plus many other options for owners to personalise their cars further.
Emphasising the Fiat 500L’s functionality, the 1500 configurations of interior space meet a vast range of diverse requirements. The boot has 400-litres of space and by using the Fold&Tumble function on the rear seat and folding the front seat down, an object that’s 2.4m long can be stowed on the flat load surface. The Cargo Magic Space system allows the boot to be split into sections and there are 22 compartments of differing size in the cabin as well as multi-adjustable seats front and rear.
The Fiat 500L has three trim levels, Pop Star, Easy and Lounge, plus four engine options: 1.4-litre Fire petrol and the 875cc TwinAir Turbo, plus the 1.3 (with manual and automatic transmissions) and 1.6-litre MultiJet 2 turbo diesels.
The 500L has been priced to offer exceptional value for money and to offer a superior standard of equipment compared to the main competitors. The Pop Star and Easy models both cost £14,990 but feature different equipment to target different customer profiles. The top of the range Lounge trim costs only £1400 more but has £2000 worth of extra equipment. Moving from the 95hp 1.4-litre petrol to either the 105hp TwinAir Turbo or the 85hp 1.3 MultiJet costs £1500. To go up to the 105hp 1.6 MultiJet is £1000. The MTA dualogic transmission on the 1.3 MultiJet is £900 more than the regular manual gearbox.
The Fiat 500L is built at the newly opened Kragujevac plant in Serbia. To date, 500L has attracted over 38,500 orders in mainland European markets, just five months after going on sale, over half of which are from outside Italy.
Design: Setting New Standards For Space
The Fiat 500L was developed on the company’s new B segment platform with the principal aim of setting new standards in terms of interior space and comfort. In order to achieve this, the designers at Centro Stile Fiat adopted a ‘cab forward’ principle. Combined with meticulous downsizing of the mechanical components by engineers, this has enabled the designers to maximise the interior space but still ensure the car is imbued with plenty of character.
The resultant design has a distinctive look with softer shapes instead of hard edges and taut lines. As a spiritual successor to the 600 Multipla, the 500L is the production interpretation of Fiat’s ‘Simply More’ philosophy. Andreas Wuppinger, chief of exterior design, says: “We asked ourselves how we could fit a large usable internal space and some emotion into a limited external size. Starting with the experience gained from the 500, we tried to transfer the same imagination to the new car, accentuating the concept of versatility.” The result is a car that’s longer than a Punto and as wide as a Bravo, yet retains the exterior look of the 500.
The Fiat 500L’s designers worked hard to ensure visibility was best in class. Called ‘seamless glazing’ it makes the most of the twin windscreen pillars to give almost 360-degree vision and 30 per cent more front visibility than competitors with a conventional thick A pillar. Wuppinger described the result: “The design of the bodywork inspires a sensation of safety through a high belt line, the accentuated shape of the wheel arches and a raised driving position. I feel protected inside the car but have a great view of the exterior; the clutter of the bodywork is reduced but the space available inside is maximised.”
The overall shape is thanks to more than 3000 hours of testing on the body and underbody at the Fiat Group wind tunnel in Orbassano, Turin. The result is a drag coefficient of 0.30 which also has the effect of reducing fuel consumption and emissions.
Fiat Group Automobiles’ colour and material department worked hard to develop the right combinations for buyers of the 500L. It has the widest range of colours in its segment with 10 body colours and three roof colours (body colour, white or black). For further personalisation there’s a range of 12 wheel options. These wheels can match or contrast with the roof and are available in silver, or with white or black diamond finish. This means that there are more than 300 colour combinations.
The interior has also been designed with personalisation in mind. Materials have been chosen for their tactile and visual properties while different finishes to the body-coloured dashboard can be specified.
Interior: Class Leading Comfort, Front Running Technology
In terms of functionality and flexibility, the Fiat 500L is class leading. There are 1500 possible configurations for the interior and it’s the most space-efficient car in relation to its size; it has more boot capacity than rivals in the larger small family hatchback class; and its internal width is best in class.
According to the latest research, the average length of car sold in Europe is 4.1m. It’s this size that allows you to manoeuvre through traffic with relative ease. The Fiat 500L is 4147mm long, making it just 80mm longer than the Fiat Punto, and 1784 cm wide. Yet as class leader in the ratio between exterior dimensions and interior space, and with the best passenger volume index in its class (3.17m3), it’s the only car of its size capable of transporting five passengers and five suitcases in comfort. This is thanks to internal dimensions that are 1456mm wide at the front while the height from seat to roof is 1034mm. In the rear these measurements are 1387mm and 993mm respectively.
Its clever design allows the Fiat 500L to set a new benchmark for on-board comfort. Its roof is 6cm higher than the Vauxhall Meriva and its 400-litre boot gives it 50-litres more than a Volkswagen Golf. This enables it to hold up to five suitcases or a full-size push chair. And with the front passenger seat folded forwards the 500L will accommodate objects that are 2.4m long more than any rival in its class.
Usability is one of the Fiat 500L’s key attributes. Its cabin has 22 handy compartments to hold everything from mobile phones to water bottles and an umbrella. The seats are multi-functional too. They can be adjusted on every axis of movement in eight different ways. It means they can be moved fore and aft, reclined and folded separately to increase passenger comfort or boost luggage space. The rear seats have an optional central head restraint and arm rest and a Fold&Tumble function that’s standard on all models. This yields a perfectly flat floor space from the rear of the boot to the rear of the front seats. The boot isn’t just big, it’s clever too. The standard Cargo Magic Space enables objects to be separated in the boot so fragile can be kept away from heavy, clean from dirty and wet from dry.
The new Fiat 500L will be available with three trim levels: Pop Star, Easy and Lounge. All models have high standard specification and are equipped with the sort of standard equipment in all trim levels that even much bigger cars don’t offer, such as cruise control, leather steering wheel with audio controls, air conditioning, height adjustable driver’s seat and height and reach adjustable steering wheel. All models come with remote central locking, electrically adjustable door mirrors, 5” touchscreen radio and electric front windows.
The £14,990 Pop Star’s interior has a vibrant, youthful feel. Taking its cues from the 500 it has a body colour painted dashboard available in five colours (red, white, black and two shades of grey). This is coupled with a bright seat design with a choice of two cheerily coloured red or grey inserts. Chromed side mouldings and 16-inch alloy wheels are standard.
The Easy is exactly the same price as the Pop Star but designed for buyers who are more focused on comfort and equipment. Consequently it has a soft-touch dashboard available in either beige, grey or red. This is coupled with an elegant two-tone steering wheel while the seats are either magnesium beige or red/grey Tecnosilk fabric. Electric rear windows and parking sensors are standard on the Easy. This model comes with standard 16-inch steel wheels that can be upgraded with optional 16 or 17-inch alloy wheels.
The range-topping Lounge model is designed for customers who want quality, comfort and a high level of specification. The dashboard is either beige or grey suede and there’s a sophisticated two-tone steering wheel. The seats are available in dark or light grey. Standard equipment includes dual-zone automatic climate control, 16” alloy wheels, automatic lights and wipers with rain sensors, an electrochromatic rear view mirror, foglights, rear parking sensors, three rear head restraints and rear electric windows.
As if the cabin isn’t flooded with enough light, the Fiat 500L Lounge comes with the largest glass roof in its segment as standard. The 1.5 square metres fixed Skydome is also available as an option on the Popstar and Easy and it comes with an optional electric opening.
The ability for owners to personalise their Fiat 500L is one of its many stand-out features, with more than 100 exclusive accessories to choose from.
First of all, Mopar developed a range of badges and stickers with six graphic patterns in different colours for the car’s exterior. It will also be possible to choose from four 17-inch diamond finish alloy rims and five door mirror covers. There’s a chrome-plated set that includes door mirrors, bonnet trim, rear number plate holder, and kick plate with 500L logo.
As this car is all about utility there’s a huge variety of functional additions. Roof bars can be easily installed for carrying bikes, surfboards, skis and snowboards and there are parking sensors to help prevent scrapes in cities. There’s a full range of child seats, anti-theft systems such as locking wheel nuts and cargo nets, luggage compartment organisers and grilles for carrying animals. Other accessories include a steel clothes hook, a special PC bag, an iPod holder and even key covers in 13 different colours.
Technology: Making Life Simple
Fiat has always been a byword for innovation and the implementation of sophisticated technological solutions that are easy to use while adding real value to everyday life. It’s perhaps no surprise then that the Fiat 500L is best in class for technology. Outstanding features include an all-new UConnect multimedia system with a large 5-inch touchscreen and a new premium sound system. The 500L will even become the first car in the world to offer an in-car coffee machine.
The Fiat 500L is the first Fiat Group Automobiles model to be fitted with the new generation UConnect ‘infotainment’ platform. UConnect was designed to be a multifunction system. The VP2 radio combines analogue and digital radio tuner and CD player functions with media players and mobile or smart phones. It enables the driver to access these hands-free simply, quickly and safely.
Media players and phones can be connected by either USB ports or AUX-IN cables. And an advanced standard equipment Bluetooth interface allows phone calls to be made and received and SMS text messages to be read aloud. It manages this by being based around the Windows Embedded Automotive operating system. This has an advanced user interface with functions such as text-to-speech, voice recognition in 11 languages, and controls on the steering wheel as well as touch screen controls and traditional buttons for the radio. An innovative audio streaming system reproduces music files and web radio stations directly from a smart phone and streams them via Bluetooth.
A future development will let owners use apps via the onboard system and smart phones to connect with Facebook or Twitter and be updated in real time on traffic, news and weather. The five-inch colour touchscreen is one of the largest in the 500L’s class. UConnect has been designed to allow new software functions to be added and updates installed during the lifestime of the vehicle so that the system is always current and ready for future evolutions.
Beats Audio is a top-of-the-line audio system that was developed in 2008 by legendary music producer Dr. Dre and music pioneer Jimmy Iovine. They sought to deliver music the way the artist intended it to be heard, and to make sure what whether you’re on the phone, on your computer, or in your car, you can get the signature Beats sound.
In 2010, Dr. Dre brought Beats Audio to the automotive industry, working directly with engineers to design and tune an exclusive 10-speaker sound system first introduced at the New York Auto Show. Two years later, the Beats Audio system made its Fiat debut in the new Fiat 500L.
Beats by Dr. Dre worked with Fiat engineers across Fiat 500L to create an authentic sound experience customised to the shape and size of the car. This guarantees drivers and passengers a truly unique sound experience.
Now available as an option in all Fiat 500L versions, the exclusive Beats Audio premium sound system includes six door and rear-quarter-mounted speakers, along with an 8-inch Dual-Voice Coil (DVC) subwoofer operating Beats Audio’sTM exclusive Digital Sound Processing (DSP) algorithm.
There’s also a subwoofer which guarantees a powerful and dynamic bass range. This uses the spare wheel housing so as not to impact on boot space. Customers who specify the Beats Audio system will be provided with a Fix&Go tyre repair kit.
This mix of hardware (the speakers) and software (the algorithm) is then coupled with a tuning process which delivers an amazing blend of science and artistry. It is a listening experience as close as possible to what the artist intended in the studio.
Fiat once again sold the cars with the lowest average carbon dioxide emissions (118.2g/km) in Europe during 2011. As proof of its continued pursuit of responsible and sustainable mobility, the Fiat 500L is also the first car to feature the latest incarnation of Fiat’s multi-award winning driving advice system, eco:Drive LIVE. Developed by the Fiat Group, this is like having a personal in-car trainer. It helps drivers reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by monitoring driving style in real time and giving tips on how to be even more eco friendly.
Eco:Drive LIVE works through the UConnect screen in real time. As well as saving the data of every trip onto a compatible USB memory stick or smart phone, and analysing the results on a PC, the system can also provide live assistance. The result can be immediate improvements in fuel consumption and emissions. This uniquely tailored personalised assistance can reduce emissions by up to 16 per cent.
The Fiat 500L will become the first standard production car in the world to offer a proper espresso coffee machine fully integrated into the dashboard. In collaboration with Lavazza, Fiat has devised a unique deck that allows the coffee maker to be fitted into the passenger compartment. It then uses Lavazza’s A Modo Miocapsules to make authentic Italian espresso coffee. Owners who plump for this option will also be able to choose a selection of accessories to complement it including spoon, capsule and sugar holders.
Engines: Class Leading Efficiency And Performance
Featuring the cleanest petrol engine in the segment, the Fiat 500L hasn’t just been designed to respect people’s increasingly diverse and demanding requirements. It has also been built to respect the environment and be cost-effective to both buy and run. As a result it will be available with a choice of four engines, two petrol and two diesel. In addition to rigorous on-road testing, Fiat Powertrain Technology has devoted more than 10,000 hours to bench testing so that each engine is optimised for the particular requirements of the 500L.
The entry level engine for the Fiat 500L is the 1.4-litre 16-valve Fire petrol engine. Renowned for being solid and reliable, this engine delivers a healthy 95hp at 6000rpm and reaches its maximum torque of 127Nm at 4500rpm. This in-line four-cylinder has double overhead camshafts and powers the 500L from 0-62mph in 12.8 seconds, and on to a top speed of 111mph.
The intake system has been optimised using fluid dynamics to achieve a particularly high volumetric efficiency throughout its operating range. As well as strong performance this ensures good fuel consumption of 45.6mpg and CO2 emissions of 145g/km.
Whether they choose petrol or diesel, buyers can be confident that mis-fuelling is a thing of the past. The Fiat 500L features a Smart Fuel system. This is cap-less so it removes one phase of the refuelling process. It works by opening and closing automatically when the pump nozzle is inserted and removed. There are specific inlets for petrol and diesel pumps, making it impossible to use the wrong fuel. It also means there’s less leakage of vapours from the fuel tank into the environment during refuelling.
0.9-litre TwinAir Turbo
The new 105hp 0.9-litre turbo with Start&Stop is the latest evolution of the revolutionary TwinAir family of engines. These combine Fiat’s ground-breaking MultiAir technology, now in its second generation, with turbocharging to enable this small capacity engine to produce a unique combination of economy and performance.
Coupling its two-cylinder design with a six-speed manual gearbox, this latest TwinAir engine develops 105hp at 5500rpm and produces its maximum torque of 145Nm at just 2000rpm. According to FPT’s calculations, this gives it the driveability of a 120hp engine. As with other TwinAir engines, the Fiat 500L has an ECO mode. This limits the maximum torque to 120Nm and power to 98hp, meaning maximum efficiency and minimum emissions.
The result is a Euro 6 engine with top class fuel consumption of 58.9mpg on the combined cycle along with CO2 emissions of 112g/km. Yet this is a car that will also achieve 0-62mph in 12.3 seconds and a top speed of 112mph.
The MultiAir 2 intake valve control system gives optimum thermo-dynamic efficiency by modulating the exhaust gases recirculated in the combustion chamber thanks to a brand new intake cam profile. By controlling the flow of air into the engine directly via the inlet valves rather than using the throttle, airflow can be managed cylinder by cylinder, cycle by cycle, phase by phase depending on the driver’s requirements. Thanks to this rigorous control of the combustion process, pumping losses of around 10 per cent are eliminated while emissions are reduced and driveability boosted through improved throttle response.
The 105hp TwinAir’s cylinder head has been completely redesigned with an integrated exhaust manifold. Under power the exhaust gases are cooled more efficiently which results in a positive impact on turbocharger operation. When the engine is warming up, part of the heat of the burnt gas is recovered, helping to lower emissions. The turbocharger has a fixed geometry with integrated wastegate and dump valve. Other differences over existing TwinAir engines include a steel camshaft, crankshaft, new thermostat and spark plugs.
One thing that’s stayed the same is the characteristic two-cylinder ‘thrum’ thanks to a combination of clever sound proofing and employing a balancing countershaft and dual mass flywheel to reduce vibrations.
1.3-litre MultiJet 2
This 85hp diesel engine has been further refined to bring its class-leading blend of performance, low fuel consumption, refinement and compact dimensions to the Fiat 500L. The 16-valve engine features a small refined variable geometry turbocharger which allows the engine to deliver higher torque at low speeds. This enables it to be paired with a five-speed gearbox without penalizing performance or curbing fuel consumption.
The result is that the 1.3-litre MultiJet 2 version of the Fiat 500L develops its 85hp at 3500rpm with maximum torque of 200Nm at just 1500rpm. Its maximum speed is 102mph with a 0-62mph time of 14.9 seconds. It provides combined cycle fuel consumption of 67.3mpg, with 110g/km of CO2.
The engine’s MultiJet 2 technology features a latest generation common rail injection system which can execute multiple injections of diesel into the combustion chamber in rapid succession, giving up to eight injections per cycle. This leads to greater speed, flexibility and precision in the various combustion phases. This quick and flexible injection sequence permits ‘rate shaping’ which is two injections that are so close together that they generate a continuous but modulated supply of fuel to the cylinders. The ability to do this improves the combustion process which in turn makes for a quieter engine and one that’s more efficient in terms of particulate and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions.
A close coupled Diesel Particulate Filter and a built-in Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) system improve the control of temperature and gas flow and guarantee lower emissions plus reduced fuel consumption. The injectors also help cut running costs by having 40 per cent fewer components than their predecessors.
The 1.3 MultiJet complies with strict Euro 5+ emissions thanks to a new variable geometry oil pump. The engine is fitted with a Start&Stop system and an on/off solenoid valve that varies the pumping capacity according to engine operating requirements. Its smaller capacity means the pump has to process a smaller quantity of oil so it draws less power from the engine. It helps reduce overall engine fuel consumption and thereby reduce CO2 emissions by around two per cent.
Other measures to reduce fuel consumption and emissions include Start&Stop to help maximise efficiency around town. And there’s a new Intelligent Alternator Module (IAM) which recharges the Fiat 500L’s battery based on driving conditions and vehicle status.
When the car is decelerating, the alternator’s charging voltage is set at a high value to make the most of the kinetic energy being generated. When the driver demands high levels of torque, the alternator’s charging voltage is set low to reduce the torque being diverted from the engine. When the car is neither accelerating nor decelerating, the charging voltage is set to ensure optimum charging status. This IAM is installed on the 0.9-litre TwinAir and 1.6-litre MultiJet engines as well.
A five-speed MTA (Manual Transmission Automated) version is also available with this engine. It can either be left to control the changes itself or for added involvement, the driver can prompt changes by pushing or pulling on the gearlever.
1.6-litre MultiJet 2
The top of the range 500L uses the 1.6-litre MultiJet 2 turbo diesel. This is a popular capacity of engine in the segment and has been designed to combine economy and comfort with sparkling performance.
With a power output of 105hp at 3750rpm the lively 1.6 MultiJet has a very healthy 320Nm of torque at 1750rpm. But it is low on emissions and fuel consumption, recording 62.8mpg on the combined cycle with 117g/km of CO2.
Like the 1.3, the 1.6 manages this courtesy of Fiat’s MultiJet 2 technology. Also like the 1.3, the 1.6 features the Intelligent Alternator Module, and a variable displacement oil pump. The engine has Start&Stop, and along with the transmission uses low viscosity lubricant to minimise friction.
The exhaust employs close-coupled Diesel Particulate Filter (CCDPF) technology which integrates the catalytic converter and particulate trap. This compact component reduces exhaust counter pressure for lower consumption and emissions. The particulate trap component is positioned close to the turbocharger outlet where the gas temperature is hotter, reducing the amount of diesel that has to be burnt for regeneration to take place. Combining the two components also reduces the exhaust system’s weight, further improving overall efficiency. The CCDPF works with the Exhaust Gas Recirculation system.
In addition to being clean, the 1.6 will please keen drivers, as it gives the 500L a 0-62mph time of just 11.3 seconds and a top speed of 112mph. Like the 1.3, routine servicing is every 21,000 miles or two years.
Dynamics: Performance With Comfort
The Fiat 500L has been built from the ground up to envelop drivers in safe and comfortable surroundings. The new wide architecture of the platform will be shared by future generations of vehicle and on the 500L it’s been calibrated to guarantee top-class performance and comfort.
The body has a high level of torsional rigidity that works with the suspension layout to ensure relaxed travel. MacPherson suspension at the front and torsion beam at the rear have been updated to ensure optimum control and comfort. The front suspension has a new anti-roll bar. Using hollow technology this combines excellent rolling rigidity with reduced weight. The front cross member has also been designed with high rigidity for greater acoustic comfort and to integrate the third load line for improved energy absorption in collisions.
The shock absorber mountings have been split to transmit the loads to the body through two different routes. This helps filter out road vibrations, gives improved acoustics and allows the shock absorbers to perform more efficiently.
The rear suspension has a newly designed torsion axle system with a high level of rolling rigidity that has enabled Fiat’s engineers to do without an anti-roll bar. Further weight was saved by using single tube shock absorbers while hydraulic bushes result in improved comfort.
In order to make the Fiat 500L a comfortable travelling companion, more than 10,000 hours of tests were carried out in anechoic chambers and on proving grounds to ensure that the sound of the car travelling on the road is muted for its occupants.
Safety: Five Star Performer
As a family car, offering excellent occupant protection was one of the prerequisites of the Fiat 500L. Consequently the new model underwent thousands of hours of virtual crash test simulation along with tests performed on components and sub-systems, more than 100 impact simulations and 100 crash tests.
These incorporated frontal, side and pedestrian impacts, roll-overs and pile-ups and took into consideration different sizes of obstacles and occupants. The result is a car that has had safety built into it from the wheels up, both in its structure and the suite of aids that help to avoid an accident in the first place. That has led to the 500L being awarded a prestigious Euro NCAP five-star crash safety rating. The overall 83 per cent score was made up of 94 per cent adult protection, 78 per cent child occupant protection, 65 per cent pedestrian protection and 71 per cent through driver aids.
The Fiat 500L features a safety cell, complete with twin front windscreen pillars designed in line with current US regulations to improve strength and visibility. The car also has a third load path at the front. This guarantees structural uniformity in a frontal impact regardless of the object the car hits by transferring impact loads to the bottom of the vehicle which is stronger. The consistency of the deformation makes the passenger retention systems within the car even more effective and helps dissipate the energy on impact. As a consequence the 500L is less aggressive in the event of a crash into the front or side of another vehicle.
As standard the Fiat 500L comes with six airbags (front, side and window), three-point safety belts on all five seats and double pretensioners and load limiters at the front. The steering column is designed to collapse in a heavy frontal impact. This is to protect the driver and prevent the steering wheel being pushed upwards.
The Fiat 500L also has front headlights that feature Daytime Running Lights and it has front fog lights with a self-adaptive cornering function (standard on the 500L Lounge). These illuminate on the side the car is turning towards to light up the verges as well as giving other drivers added warning of the 500L’s actual direction of travel.
City Brake Control
Fiat is now providing its small cars with this system designed to reduce the effects of low-speed collision in traffic. By sending out laser impulses and registering how quickly they’re reflected, City Brake Control can detect remotely how far the car is from other obstacles.
This information is gathered by a sensor behind the windscreen which then transfers it to an electronic control unit for processing. If the control unit thinks the car is going to have a collision and the driver isn’t doing anything to stop it, the brakes are applied. Depending on variables such as weather conditions, road surface and tyre condition, a crash can either be avoided or the consequences minimised. It operates at speeds between 3 and 19mph so it won’t cut in during parking manoeuvres or at speed when it could create a dangerous situation.
City Brake Control operates on the braking system providing three additional functions: Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB), Prefill and Brake Assist. Using the same laser sensors as City Brake Control, the AEB assesses the position and speed of obstacles and whether they pose a threat or not. If it decides that they do, it applies the brakes automatically while reducing engine torque if the accelerator pedal hasn’t been released.
The Prefill function primes the braking system to give a quicker response when the AEB system takes over. Brake Assist uses sensors to recognise emergency situations and alters the brake pedal’s response to achieve quicker braking in an emergency.
As standard the Fiat 500L is equipped with an ESC Electronic Stability Control system, which includes ABS (anti-lock brakes), EBD (electronic brakeforce distribution) and BAS (Brake Assist System).
The Fiat 500L’s ESC is equipped with a variety of other functions. Anti Slip Regulation (ASR) uses the brakes and engine management to optimise traction at any speed to allow the car to cope with low grip surfaces.
Hill Holder keeps the brakes locked for around two seconds, enabling the driver to pull away on slopes without juggling the handbrake, clutch and accelerator. The Prefill function gives the braking system a quicker reaction in a typical emergency stop.
Motor Schleppmoment Regelung (MSR) intervenes when a brisk gearchange over a slippery surface might cause the wheels to slip or lock. Driving Steering Torque (DST) carries out automatic steering corrections and controls oversteer on low grip surfaces. Electronic Rollover Mitigation (ERM) intervenes when a wheel parts company with the road or when extreme dynamic movements are detected. It helps restabilise the vehicle and returns control to the driver.
Production: Rebuilding In Serbia
The Fiat 500L is built at the Kragujevac factory in Serbia, about 70 miles south of Belgrade on the Lepenica river. Formerly the Zastava car plant, the factory is the main employer in the area and was re-opened for production in April 2012. This followed three years of intense work designed to upgrade the entire infrastructure, restore buildings, bring new production departments on line and install advanced machinery and production systems. More than one billion Euros was invested from 2010, while 2500 workers took part in the plant’s reconstruction. Following more than 1.1 million hours of staff training, production capacity at the new plant exceeds 700 cars a day.