Although there's still no word on final specs for a U.S. version that will arrive here sometime next year, the soon-to-launch Fiat 500L wagon has now been fully detailed for its home market and gives a better feel for what we can expect -- at least in the realm of basic packaging. This Italian answer to the Mini Countryman offers the convenience of more space and a pair of extra doors, while still retaining a city-friendly footprint.
The 500L -- Fiat says that letter designation stands for Large, Light and Loft -- is a more practical and arguably even more stylish 5-passenger variation on the basic 500 formula. To give it that extra measure of versatility, the 500L benefits from a meaningful growth spurt that adds 23.7 inches to its overall length, 12.2 inches to its wheelbase, about 5.0 inches to its track dimensions and nearly 6.0 inches to its height.
Inside, the dash in the new 500L shares a good deal of character with the current 500, but gains more conventional main instrumentation and a new 5.0-inch central touch screen. While the upsized package does make life a bit better for front seat passengers, it's the rear occupants who really benefit, with additional head, shoulder and especially legroom. That latter dimension is further complemented by a split-folding seat that provides several inches of fore/aft adjustability. Depending on its position, the 500L offers 13.1-14.1 cu ft of cargo space compared to the modest 9.5 stat of the basic 500 Coupe. For maximum utility, the 500L's aft seat also includes a Fold & Tumble function that allows it to be tilted forward, creating a flat floor and opening the rear bay capacity up to an impressive 46.3 cu ft. The luggage compartment of the new 500L also features Cargo Magic Space, a tri-level adjustable divider system that allows you to separate fragile objects from heavy ones, clean objects from dirty ones, and wet objects from dry ones.
In addition to more interior volume, the new Fiat 500L will come with an impressively enhanced list of standard and available creature comforts. A new high-line sound system developed in collaboration Beats Audio will keep things rocking, Chrysler's UConnect system will keep those aboard informed and in touch, and the largest-in-class sunroof will allow for at least a semi-open-air experience. The slickest -- and most decidedly Italian -- extra that can be had on a Euro-spec 500L is the world's first on-board espresso machine. Created in collaboration with Lavazza, it's fully integrated into the package and uses "A Modo Mio" pod technology to simplify the process. Whether that option makes it to these shores remains to be seen.
Beyond pricing, the biggest question that remains unanswered for the new 500L is what powertrain combination we'll see here in the U.S. The European vehicles are set to launch with three engine choices, a 0.9-liter/105-horsepower Turbo TwinAir inline-2, a 1.4-liter/105-horse four and a 1.3-liter/85-horse MultiJet 2 4-cylinder turbodiesel, all backed by either a 5-speed or 6-speed manual transmission. Fiat could simply elect to fit the same engine/trans elements used in our current base 500 -- a 1.4-liter/101-horse naturally aspirated four backed by a 5-speed manual or 6-speed automatic. However, since the 500L is 311-382 pounds heavier than a 500 Coupe, depending on transmission choice, there's a reasonable chance a more potent motivator may be in the cards, even if it isn't the 160-horse turbocharged Abarth-spec engine.