Fiat 500L 1.6 Multijet 105 Pop Star
Week ending November 29
Driven this week 60 miles
The cold weather seems to be taking its toll on the Fiat; the battery has run flat twice in three days now. It’s probably either a dodgy battery or a loose electrical connection somewhere, but whatever it is, it’s not exactly what you’d expect for a car less than a year old.
This situation is even more annoying than usual as I have a broken leg at the moment, and my partner has very kindly taken on driving duties to get me to and from work.
The first time the Fiat refused to start was in the What Car? car park; my partner had been waiting for around five minutes with the engine off, but ignition on, listening to the radio. After hopping to the car on crutches, I was treated to the 500L making those telltale clicking noises when the key turned in the ignition.
A kind colleague came to the rescue with some jump leads, but I wasn’t quite as lucky the second time the battery died. As I type, Fiat’s roadside assistance are on their way out to the stricken 500L at my house, so I’ll report back next week with the outcome.
By Melanie Falconer
Week ending November 15
Driven this week 620 miles
The 500L might not seem the obvious choice for a 500-mile round-trip to Manchester on a busy Sunday but it fitted the bill perfectly as transport to Old Trafford for the Manchester United vs Arsenal game.
The excellent ride quality and raised driving position are a real boon on a long motorway run; only the noise gives away how hard the little 1.6 diesel is having to work.
Downsides? At 6ft 3in tall, I find the seat squabs far too short – they finish halfway down my thigh – and the gearknob is uncomfortably big. Oh, and those stylish black-on-white rings around the instruments are really quite hard to read when glancing down for a speedometer check.
By Alastair Clements
Week ending November 1
Driven this week 268 miles
I spent some time this week in two different versions of the Fiat 500L – our standard long term test car and the latest Trekking model. The Trekking has a raised ride height, chunky plastic cladding and comes equipped with all-season tyres.
After driving both cars, I was struck by how composed the ride is compared with rivals. Admittedly this isn't saying much, since few mini SUVs or MPVs could be described as cosseting (my long term Renault Captur included) but the 500L surprised me with how deftly it smoothed out bigger bumps and ruts.
However, while my overall impression is that the 500L is better than I remember, there are still some minor gripes.
Firstly, the main beam is operated with a pull on the left stalk (rather than a push). This is not an especially unusual feature, but the 500L's flimsy controls mean you often end up triggering the indicator as well.
Secondly, the stop-start system seems to be playing up in colder weather. Once the engine's up to temperature, it appears to work as it should, but within the first 20 minutes of driving it refused to start several times until I took charge and prodded the throttle. This is not a quirk specific to the Fiat – my long term car suffers from a similar problem – but it's still a frustrating one.
By Ed Callow