• FIAT launches new versions of the compact 500 at the LA Auto Show.
  • The 500L is a stretched 4-door version of the 500 hatchback.
  • Electric 500e and sporty 500c Abarth convertible also join the lineup.

Although the 500 hatchback fell short of initial sales projections, the 2013 FIAT 500 lineup is set to expand dramatically, with multiple new models bowing at the 2012 LA Auto Show.

The most notable addition is the 500L, a dramatically larger, 4-door version of the 500 hatch. The 500L will be more than two feet longer than the regular 500, as well as about six inches wider and taller. Think of it as FIAT's answer to the MINI Countryman. While early reports had the 500L relying on the same breathless engine as the base hatchback, we're relieved to report that the production version will share the high-performance Abarth's 160-horsepower turbocharged inline-4, with a few extra torques thrown in for a total of 184 lb-ft. Shifting duties will be handled by either a 6-speed manual transmission or a dual-clutch 6-speed automatic.

Making a special appearance at the LA Auto Show is the 500L Trekking concept, which features sporty exterior styling cues, bigger wheels and a 2-tone interior. It's unclear whether FIAT intends to offer this trim level for sale in the U.S., but what we can tell you is that all 500L models will be front-wheel drive for the foreseeable future, despite the car's crossover-like styling.

The Abarth nameplate will be represented by the new soft-top Abarth Cabrio, or 500c Abarth, which pairs the regular 500c's retractable roof with all of the Abarth's go-fast goods, including the zesty turbocharged motor. As in the base version, the 500c Abarth's top is essentially a full-length canvas sunroof that can be powered open at up to 50 mph, a remarkably high speed. A unique 500c Abarth offering, for now at least, is the available Beats by Dr. Dre sound system.

Then there's the FIAT 500e, an all-electric 2-door hatchback that delivers up to 100 miles of city driving per full charge, according to FIAT, or 80 miles of mixed driving. The recharging interval is a respectable four hours on 240V current, but extends to over 20 hours on a household 120V connection. Official pricing has not been established. Thanks to a peppy electric motor with 111 hp and 147 lb-ft of torque, the 500e should have no trouble getting out of its own way. Whether you'll be able to get your hands on one is a separate question, as FIAT will limit the initial run of 500e models to California customers. Dealers in other states may be able to join the fun toward the end of 2013.

What it means to you: FIAT doubles down on the 500 lineup, hoping to develop a MINI-like following among American drivers.

See more LA Auto Show news.

Would you buy a bigger FIAT 500? How about an electric one? Tell us in the comments below.

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Josh Sadlier is an automotive journalist based in Los Angeles and has contributed to such publications as Edmunds.com and DriverSide.com. He holds arguably the most unexpected degree in his profession: a master's in Theological Studies.

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