Fiat's 500L Trekking is tough enough when the going get rough
The Fiat 500 family just keeps getting bigger in size and appeal. Two newbies really complete the Fiat 500 family. The 500L Trekking and the 500L MPW (Multi-Purpose Wagon). Fiat began taking orders for the 500L Trekking only last month, prices starting at £17,095 whereas the 500L MPW will go on sale here in September.
Both models use the 500L’s ‘space efficiency’ ethos as a starting point with its segment-topping running costs, performance, versatility and visibility. They then offer different interpretations of an already successful, highly practical yet stylish formula.
The 500L Trekking has been designed to be as at home in the great outdoors as it is on congested city streets. It has a distinctively rugged crossover look with a raised ride height and M+S (Mud&Snow) all-season tyres, plus the clever Traction+ system.
OFF-ROAD: WHEN THE GOING GETS ROUGH
The Fiat 500L Trekking has a rugged presence, courtesy of the specially designed bumpers and front and rear protective shields. It also boasts a higher ride with ground clearance of 145mm – 10 per cent more than the regular 500L – and it benefits from clever electronics that enable it to switch from being ideally suited to city streets or country tracks at the push of a button.
Thanks to Traction+, the Fiat 500L Trekking can handle the kind of tricky terrain that other two-wheel drive cars would find impossible. This innovative traction control system improves handling on difficult and slippery surfaces, but costs far less than conventional four-wheel drive and weighs less, meaning less impact on economy.
Traction+ uses the advanced hardware present on cars equipped with Electronic Stability Control (ESC) to brake spinning wheels and transmit torque to the wheels with better grip. It is activated by pressing a button on the dashboard at speeds of up to 18.6mph.
By using special algorithms to control and manage the braking system, the control unit can simulate the behaviour of a self-locking electromechanical differential. Thanks to optimised software and having force applied through the normal hydraulic braking circuit, Traction+ is much more progressive than conventional systems.
Push the button located down by the gear lever and Traction+ is enabled. On surfaces with differing grip between right and left sides, more torque is transferred to the wheel with the better grip – while the brake is applied to the other one – helping the car to pull away properly. Without Traction+ enabled, the differential transmits the same torque to both front wheels. In this instance, the wheel with the lowest grip will spin, with the other one lacking sufficient torque to get the vehicle moving.
ENGINES: EFFICIENCY AND PERFORMANCE COMBINED
The Fiat 500L Trekking has been designed to appeal to people who like to enjoy the great outdoors. It will be available with a choice of four engines, two Euro 6 rated petrols and two Euro 5+ diesels that are all cost-effective to buy and run. 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 Trekking.
The entry level engine for the Fiat 500L Trekking is the 1.4 16v FIRE 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 will do 0-62mph in 13.2 seconds, going on to a top speed of 103mph.
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 works with a six-speed gearbox to give fuel consumption of 44.1mpg and CO2 emissions of 149g/km.
0.9 TwinAir Turbo
The 105hp 0.9-litre turbo with Start&Stop is the latest evolution of the revolutionary TwinAir family of engines. These combine Fiat’s groundbreaking 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 architecture with a six-speed manual gearbox, this latest TwinAir engine develops 105hp at 5500rpm and produces its maximum torque of 145Nm at just 2000rpm. As with other TwinAir engines, the Fiat 500L has an ECO mode. This limits the maximum torque to 120Nm and power to 98hp.
The result is 55.4mpg on the combined cycle, along with CO2 emissions of 119g/km. Yet this is a car that will do 0-62mph in 12.6 seconds and has a top speed of 107mph.
The MultiAir II intake valve control system gives optimum thermodynamic 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 is boosted through improved throttle response.
The 105hp TwinAir’s cylinder head has been completely redesigned with an integrated exhaust manifold. The exhaust gases are cooled more efficiently under power, resulting 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, the driveshaft, thermostat and spark plugs.
One thing that certainly remains 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 MultiJet II
This 85hp engine has been further refined to bring its class-leading blend of performance, low fuel consumption, refinement and compact dimensions to the Fiat 500L Trekking. The 16-valve engine features a small refined variable geometry turbocharger which allows it to deliver higher torque at low speeds. This enables it to be paired with a five-speed gearbox without penalising performance or curbing fuel consumption.
The result is that the 1.3 MultiJet II version of the Fiat 500L Trekking develops its 85hp at 3500rpm, with maximum torque of 200Nm at just 1500rpm. Its maximum speed is 99mph with a 0-62mph time of 15.3 seconds. On the combined cycle, fuel consumption is 65.7mpg with 114g/km of CO2.
The engine’s MultiJet II 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’ – two injections that are so close together 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 produces fewer 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 II complies with strict Euro 5+ emissions thanks to a new variable geometry oil pump. The engine is fitted with an on/off solenoid valve that varies the pumping capacity according to engine operating requirements. Its smaller capacity means the pump has to process less 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, which helps maximise efficiency around town. There is also a new Intelligent Alternator Module (IAM) which recharges the Fiat 500L Trekking’s battery based on the 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 also installed on the 0.9 TwinAir and 1.6 MultiJet engines.
A five-speed Dualogic MTA (Manual Transmission Automated) version is also available with this engine. This can either be left to control the gear changes by itself, or for added involvement, the driver can prompt changes by pushing or pulling on the gearlever. This improves economy from 65.7mpg to 67.3mpg and reduces CO2 emissions from 114g/km to 109g/km.
1.6 MultiJet II
The top-of-the-range 500L Trekking will use the 1.6 MultiJet II turbodiesel. This is a popular capacity of engine in the segment, and has been designed to combine economy and comfort with brilliant performance. Since its addition to the 500L range, 20 per cent of sales have been to buyers who have chosen this engine.
With a power output of 105hp at 3750rpm, the lively 1.6 MultiJet has a very healthy 320Nm of torque at 1750rpm. Coupled with CO2 emissions of 122g/km and combined-cycle fuel consumption of 60.1mpg, this ensures the perfect blend of pace and economy.
As with the 1.3, the 1.6 manages this courtesy of Fiat’s MultiJet II technology, while also employing the smaller engine’s Intelligent Alternator Module and variable displacement oil pump. The engine has Start&Stop and a six-speed transmission, and 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.
As well as being clean, the 1.6 will please keen drivers as it gives the 500L Trekking a 0-62mph time of just 12 seconds and a top speed of 109mph. Like the 1.3, routine servicing is every 21,000 miles or two years.
Whether choosing petrol or diesel, buyers can be confident that misfuelling is a thing of the past thanks to the Fiat 500L Trekking’s Smart Fuel system. This is capless, thus removing 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 ensures less leakage of vapours from the fuel tank into the environment during refuelling.
Please note that fuel consumption and CO2 figures are obtained for comparative purposes in accordance with EC directives/regulations and may not be representative of real-life driving conditions. Factors such as driving style, weather and road conditions may also have a significant effect on fuel consumption.
NEW FIAT 500L MPW: LARGE GOES EVEN LARGER
The next evolution of Fiat’s 500L concept is the MPW. At 4.35m long, it has the best external dimensions to interior space ratio in its class and is the only car among its peers to boast a 638-litre boot. Yet it remains as compact and agile to drive and park as a mid-size car. Throw in the charm of the 500 and the MPW combines the best elements from multiple segments of car to appeal to a wide range of people.
With an optional third row of seats giving a five-plus-two layout, the 500L MPW gives owners a huge amount of choice in how their car is configured. They can carry up to seven people, or choose a massive load area, or have a combination of the two. Yet at the same time they don’t have to sacrifice any style as the 500L MPW has the same signature ‘Made by Fiat’ design as its sister cars.
A choice of three engines is offered with the 500L MPW: the 0.9 TwinAir Turbo 105hp petrol unit, plus the 1.3 and 1.6 MultiJet II diesel powerplants offering 85hp and 105hp respectively. The 1.3 is also available with the five-speed automatic transmission.
The 500L MPW will be available in Pop Star and Lounge trim levels, both with five or seven seats. As style is an important consideration for owners, there will be 19 colour combinations offered including 11 bicolour paints along with 15 different types of 16- and 17-inch alloy wheels.
Inside, customers can choose from six upholstery options. The Pop Star version can be specified in either black and red or grey and black, while the Lounge is either grey or grey and beige.
The 500L MPW majors on versatility. Five seats are standard but an extra two in the third row can be specified with a simple ‘one-hand’ mechanism that folds the seats down completely. In seven-seat guise with the third row of seats raised, there are still 168 litres of load space.
In five-seat mode with the sliding second row as far back as it will travel, the luggage compartment has a minimum capacity of 560 litres. With the second row of seats as far forward as it will go, this is increased to 638 litres. The second row can be adjusted longitudinally and separately in 12 positions, and has a 60/40 split folding backrest. A third central head restraint and armrest can be specified as an option.
As with the 500L and 500L Trekking, the Fold&Tumble second row goes fully flat, but in the 500L MPW it liberates 1,584 litres of space. With the front passenger seat folding flat too, objects that are 2.6m long can be carried. The Cargo Magic Space system allows the load platform to be adjusted on three levels to separate a variety of objects.
As with other models in the 500L range, on-board comfort is a priority and so there is a huge range of possible seat adjustment. The driver’s seat can be specified with lumbar adjustment and electric heating, and there is a wide range of options meaning that owners can personalise their space to suit the way they live their lives.
In order to make the 500L MPW as comfortable as possible, it has specially adaptable suspension. To absorb bumps in the road and control body roll for excellent lane change response speed, the seven-seat version has been fitted with ‘frequency dependent’ shock absorbers.
These vary the damping according to the operating conditions. On a smoother surface, body roll is reduced to enhance handling and safety. When the going gets rougher, suspension filtering is increased to optimise comfort levels.
The 500L MPW has MacPherson front suspension with a new anti-roll bar. This is made using hollow technology that provides increased performance with reduced weight. The front crossmember has been designed to be very rigid, and therefore achieves greater acoustic comfort. It also has an integrated third load path to improve energy absorption in a collision. Another innovation is the split shock absorber mounting. By transmitting loads to the body through two different routes, road vibrations are better filtered, acoustics are improved, and shock absorption is made more efficient.
The rear suspension uses a torsion beam with a new high rolling rigidity design. This eliminates the need for an anti-roll bar which helps to save weight. Further weight has been saved by using single tube shock absorbers, while hydraulic bushes result in improved comfort. In 5+2 configuration, the rear suspension is reinforced to cope with the additional load.