The popular Fiat 500L is now available with two new engines and a new Beats Edition trim.
As its name suggests, the Beats Edition gets an upgraded seven-speaker stereo – complete with sub-woofer – which has been developed in conjunction with audio brand Beats by Dr Dre.
The Beats Edition also gets the chunkier styling of the 500L Trekking and the same raised ride height, but is offered with 17-inch alloys, two-tone grey/black paint (in either a matt or gloss finish), black sideskirts, wheelarches and bumper inserts – along with distinctive red brake calipers.
What is the 2014 Fiat 500L Beats Edition like inside?
Very dark. In keeping with the mean and moody exterior, the Beats Edition gets a tough-looking matt grey dashboard and a Total Black interior pack, which brings black fabric and part-leather seats with red '500' logos stitched on the front backrests.
The Beats Edition’s sportier seats are more supportive than those in the 500L, but still have too-short seat squabs. Otherwise, the driving position is nicely elevated, and visibility is excellent.
As in the Trekking, there’s lots of head- and legroom for both front and rear passengers, and the three-way adjustable boot floor comes in handy when lifting heavy bags into and out of the fairly spacious boot.
As with other 500L models, you get an easy-to-use touch-screen infotainment system as standard, but the Beats Edition also adds automatic headlights, rear privacy glass and dual-zone climate control.
The Beats audio set-up is fairly impressive, too; it’s certainly much better than the stereo in the regular 500L. It’s plenty loud enough, yet manages to produce a fairly balanced (yet admittedly bass-driven) sound throughout the cabin.
What is the 2014 Fiat 500L Beats Edition like to drive?
Apart from the two new 118bhp engines – a 1.6-litre turbo diesel and 1.4-litre turbo petrol that will now be offered across all of the 500L range – the Beats Edition isn't much different from the standard Trekking in terms of the way it rides and handles. Body control is reasonable, and the standard all-weather tyres cope well with patchy road surfaces, although the steering feels artificially light and a little vague – especially at motorway speeds.
We tried both new engines; the new 118bhp 1.6 Multijet has 14bhp more than the existing 1.6 diesel version (which is fitted to our long-term 500L). The extra oomph gives a small increase in top speed and an improved 0-62mph time of 10.7 seconds, (compared with 11.3 seconds).
Claimed fuel economy is down slightly (61.4mpg vs 62.8mpg), and CO2 emissions increase by 3g/km (117g/km vs 120g/km). This means the high-powered engine is more expensive for company car users.
On the road, the extra power translates to a slightly stronger mid-range, which is useful for keeping pace with traffic. The 118bhp diesel is slightly quieter than the 104bhp version, too, although it still grumbles when you put your foot down. There's a fair amount of wind and road noise at higher speeds, too.
The new 1.4 T-Jet turbo petrol is faster still, managing the 0-62mph sprint in 10.2seconds. However, official fuel economy and CO2 emissions aren't as impressve at 40.9mpg and 159g/km respectively.
We tested both new engines with the standard, fairly precise feeling six-speed manual gearbox; unfortunately the giant-sized gearknob hasn’t been made smaller, so it's still a bit awkward to use for drivers with smaller hands.
An LPG version of the 1.4 T-Jet will also be available in the next few weeks. It won't accelerate quite as quickly as the standard 1.4 petrol, but will emit less CO2 (144g/km).
Should I buy one?
With prices starting at an estimated £21,690 for the 1.6 diesel and around £1000 less for the 1.4 petrol, the Beats Edition is very expensive for what's essentially a standard 500L Trekking with some nice detailing and a lot more speakers.
If we had to make a choice, we’d go for the diesel; it’s punchy enough low down, feels more responsive in town and is a much cheaper company car.
However, cheaper versions of the 500L make a lot more sense. If you have upwards of £20k to spend, you'd be much better off looking at a Nissan Qashqai or a Citroen C4 Picasso.
What Car? says...
Specification 1.6 MultiJet 120 Beats Edition
Engine size 1.6-litre diesel
Price from £21,690 (est.)
Torque 236lb ft
0-62mph 10.7 seconds
Top speed 117mph
Fuel economy 61.4mpg
Specification 1.4 T-Jet 120 Beats Edition
Engine size 1.4-litre turbo petrol
Price from £20,690 (est.)
Torque 159lb ft
0-62mph 10.2 seconds
Top speed 117mph
Fuel economy 40.9mpg