Arguably in some ways the 500 badge transcends Fiat itself – and the savvy Italian firm is spreading that name around new models.
Now here’s the next stage of the 500 family expansion: the 500L MPW.
One of Fiat’s names for it is the Magic Power Wagon (no, really). At least the kids will love going for a ride in a car that sounds as though it belongs in a Disney film.
Joking aside, the 500L MPW has an extra 20cm grafted onto the same chassis as the standard 500L, giving it enough boot space for two occasional-use rear seats. They can be added for an extra £800 or so to create a 5+2 layout.
The legroom in the two rearmost seats is tight and they’re best reserved for the smallest children. They also reduce the five-seater version’s 560-litre boot space by 70 litres when folded flat. With them raised the remaining luggage space is negligible, as with most seven-seat cars.
This is the smallest seven-seater you can buy at just 4.35 metres long and 1.78 metres wide (excluding the mirrors). Its high roof and shoulder line make it look bigger than it is, but you’re certainly glad of the slimline dimensions when it comes to urban driving. It’s surprisingly nimble as you dash into side streets.
While the third row of seats is cramped, on the middle bench seat there’s acres of space for heads, shoulders, knees and toes, with a driver of six feet plus leaving plenty of room behind him even for adult legs. The seats are unusually soft and comfortable in an age of increasingly firm padding, and the front five seats are very likeable. Similarly, the chunky steering wheel with ‘squircle’ design leather, and the solid ancillary stalks behind it.
Any family car needs to be practical and the 500L MPW delivers in spades. There are upper and lower glove boxes, and although the former’s lid hinge mechanism is a little primitive, they offer loads of storage space. On top of these two are shelves and bins of various shapes and sizes that would be fit for loose change, receipts and gadgets. Not so practical on this higher-spec Lounge model is the fact that you can’t see the cruise control stalk because it’s behind the steering wheel.
This 104bhp 1.6-litre diesel engine is hardly a powerhouse, but it does offer useful punch from around 1,900rpm on the stylish rev counter up to about 3,200rpm. There’s a more powerful 1.6 diesel, but it’s best to avoid the low-powered 1.3, which really struggles to pull the MPW’s mass.