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Fiat 500L Mirror
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  • Manufacturer Fiat
  • Model500L Mirror
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By Line

The Fiat 500L Mirror is a small MPV that offers more charisma than you might expect. Jonathan Crouch looks at what's on offer.

Ten Second Review

The 500L 'Mirror' is a five-seater compact MPV that offers a practical dash of Italian flair. In this special form, it's smarter and better connected. You might be surprised at how practical it is for its size too.

Background

Every family car these days needs to be better connected - but most aren't. Fiat's 500L 'Mirror' model is an exception, thanks to its standard 'Uconnect LINK' infotainment technology. But there's more to his MPV than merely upgraded connectivity. For a start, it's based on the lately revised 500L model, which means it gets a host of interior and exterior design upgrades and extra equipment. All aimed at making this car fine for families as well as fashion-conscious urbanistas. Launched originally back in 2013, the 500L aimed to give these people a model to trade up to from the 500 citycar - but it needed a bit of polishing. That's what's taken place here.

Driving Experience

On the move, you get an urban confidence with the 500L, something encouraged by the light lock-to-lock steering. A car you might enjoy on the school run. If not quite so much pushing on beyond the city limits. Here, you might wish that the steering offered you a little more feedback, a pity because in other respects, this is one of the more dynamically able five-seat mini-MPVs on the market, with a range of willing, torquey engines. Well, most of them are willing and torquey anyway. You couldn't really say that of the entry-level petrol unit, a 95bhp petrol 1.4 that's one of Fiat's older efforts and which, thanks to limited pulling power, doesn't really feel as fast as the performance stats suggest (rest to 62mph in 12.8s on the way to 111mph). Better then, if possible, to find the funds to stretch to the other engine option offered to 500L 'Mirror' buyers, a 120bhp 1.4-litre T-Jet petrol unit. This improves the performance stats to 10.2s and 117mph. Thanks to a lustier 215Nm of torque (nearly double what you get from he base unit), it pulls much more strongly through the gears too. For the 'Mirror' models, there are no diesel options.

Design and Build

This 500L 'Mirror' model is recognisable by its extra chrome detailing and most buyers will probably want to go for the smart optional bi-colour 'Venezia blue' paintwork and grey roof package, which also includes grey mirror caps. You tend to approach this 500L expecting it to be a pumped-up version of the 500 citycar - which of course it isn't. To make this model as big as it needed to be - fully 60cm longer and 18cm taller than an ordinary 500, so in Fiat terms, longer than a Punto supermini and as wide as a Tipo family hatch - Andreas Wuppinger's styling team had to use a Punto floorplan as the basis for something quite different. Then give the end result a recognisable '500'-style twist, hence the familiar wide-eyed front end. As BMW found when trying to super-size the MINI to create the MINI Countryman, that isn't a recipe for aesthetic elegance - and it certainly isn't here - but it has left room for some very clever touches. Just look at the flow of the wraparound windscreen for instance, designed to give almost 360-degree vision. Inside, this is one of the most practical models in the compact MPV class. Three adults can comfortably sit on the back seat, plus there's a 455-litre boot.

Market and Model

Prices for the 500L 'Mirror' start from just under £17,000, a sum that gets you the entry-level 95bhp 1.4-litre petrol variant. There's a premium of around £1,250 if you want to trade up to the perkier 120bhp 1.4-litre T-Jet petrol model. Equipment for this variant includes charismatic chrome detailing including chrome mirror caps, plus here's a 'Mirror' badge on the pillar and front fog lights. That's in addition to all the features you'd find on an ordinary 'Pop Star'-trimmed 500L model. That means air conditioning, powered mirrors and a height-adjustable driver's seat. Plus cruise control, 16-inch alloy wheels and smart 'Techno-leather' trim for the multi-function steering wheel. As for safety, well there's no driver's knee 'bag provided but a 5 star Euro NCAP showing is otherwise fully justified by the standard provision of twin front, side and curtain airbags and ESP stability control, along with traction control. The anti-lock brakes are boosted by 'BAS' brake assist to help in emergency stops. And there's also a 'tyre pressure monitoring system', plus a 'Hill Holder' clutch that stops the car from rolling backwards when pulling away on steep inclines.

Cost of Ownership

We can't imagine that 500L motoring is ever going to cost you very much but the 1.4-litre petrol engines on offer to 'Mirror' buyers certainly aren't amongst the most efficient of their kind. The 95bhp 1.4-litre 16v petrol unit delivers 46.3mpg on the combined cycle and 143g/km of CO2. In 1.4 120bhp T-Jet turbo form, the returns aren't much different - 42.2mpg and 155g/km. And servicing? Well that will be needed every 18,000 miles or every 12 months, depending on which comes round soonest. That servicing needn't be too costly as Fiat parts are relatively cheap. The brand also offers fixed price service plans that take care of all service charges, labour and replacement fluids. You can pick from durations that span from one to five years, with corresponding mileage from 9,000 to 45,000 miles. On to residual values. Don't get your hopes up too much here: present predictions see this car retaining 31% to 33% of its original value after three years or 60,000miles. What else? Every model in the range is covered by a three-year, unlimited mileage warranty and there's 36 months of breakdown cover included as well.

Summary

'Even more 500, even more convenient, even more technology'. That, according to Fiat, is what's on offer with this 500L 'Mirror' model. It won't stem the stampede away from small People Carriers into SUVs, but it may well carve out a very useful niche for itself. It probably helps Fiat's cause that the 500L is so quirky-looking. In our opinion though, the unusual aesthetics only start to work in its favour when you pay plenty to dress them up with the kind of up-market trim we have here. In short, if you want a small, charismatic MPV, it could be worth a look.

Scoring: Fiat 500L Mirror

Category: Small MPVs

Performance
50
Handling
50
Comfort
50
Space
80
Styling
60
Build
70
Value
60
Equipment
70
Economy
50
Depreciation
70
Insurance
70
Total
62