Fiat uses an alliteration of ‘L’ words to describe their latest subcompact, yet only one of those words really matter – longer. While the 500L is taller and wider than the standard 500, length is what puts the L in 500L.
To paraphrase our friend Geppetto, the toy car has become a real car.
After climbing into the seat of the 500L I expected to hear an echo when I closed the door. Sitting in the seat I felt alone and small, like Rudy on an empty football field.
The interior is astonishingly spacious and chockfull of natural light. It was like a scene from Willy Wonka – “Hey! The car is getting bigger! No it’s not, he’s getting smaller!”
The interior of the 500L is part actual space and part visual deception. The 500L is 65.7 inches tall and 167.1 inches long, which is 4 inches taller and 5.4 inches longer than the MINI Cooper Countryman. The 500L and the MINI are comparable in many interior volume categories, except one: front shoulder room. The 500L has 4.5 more inches in front shoulder room than the MINI and this extra room is what creates that strange is-this-car-for-giant-people feeling.
Fiat designers gave the 500L a headband of windows – 360-degrees of panoramic glass provides drivers with improved visibility and lets in copious amounts of sunshine, particularly when combined with the optional panoramic sunroof, or the Sky Dome, as Fiat calls it. The added light and visual access to the outdoors creates the perception of even roomier interior.
There are a few downsides to being surrounded by glass and light. The first being heat. Without tinted windows these cars would likely double as ovens in sunnier climates. Fiat addressed this by engineering a center air conditioning vent that sits atop the dash and forces air up into the 500L’s stratosphere rather than blowing it directly back into your passenger’s face. This was done to avoid “heat layers” from forming in the upper echelons of the cabin.