What happens when foreigners have been in America for a few years? They start getting fat like Americans. And so it is with the 2014 Fat 500L which has gained mass, two doors and a plumper overall visage. We found a red model strutting its chunky stuff at the back of the Chicago Auto Show For some reason we weren’t allowed inside, but we were able to caress it through the open windows.
Fiat kept referring to the 500L as some sort of MINI Clubman competitor, but I tend to think only shoppers of the Countryman CUV will be looking at the larger Fiat. On the outside the 500L looks slightly overinflated with suspicious looking bulges everywhere. The inside is a different story however with interior bits that put MINI to shame. Not that they are overly luxurious but MINI’s parts bin is a hard plastic wonderland.
Fiat says the 500L will be front wheel drive only for the moment, although the rumor mill indicates the platform has been designed with AWD in mind. The same 1.4L turbo engine from the 500 Abarth is found under the hood giving the baby crossover 160HP and 184lb-ft of twist. Also on board is a 6-speed manual or Fiat’s dual dry clutch transmission. Infotainment options are also taking a step in the right direction bringing Chrysler’s slick uConnect system to an optional 6.5-inch touch scree in the dash. I spent some time playing with the display system and it looks to be better in my opinion than MINI’s rendition of iDrive and light-years ahead of what’s in the current 500. So far, nobody is talking pricing.