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FIAT to Revive 500L Nameplate for Larger Model

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author photo by Jeffrey Archer February 2012
  • FIAT will offer a four-door 500 in the US.
  • The new model will feature a crossover-like appearance.
  • The model will be named 500L when it arrives this summer.

FIAT will revive a classic nameplate when it brings a four-door version of its 500 hatchback to the United States early next year. Scheduled to debut at next month's Geneva Auto Show, the model's newest variant will revive the 500L moniker, recalling a historical designation last used on the original "Cinquecento" in the late 1960s.

Based on the European-market Ellezero, which will also make its debut in Geneva, the 500L is expected to be a tall-riding hatchback with a crossover-like stance similar to Mini's recently released Countryman. While FIAT will offer five- and seven-passenger versions of the Ellezero in Europe, the automaker is only expected to bring the five-passenger model stateside.

According to FIAT, the 500L will represent one of the first North American instances of platform sharing between the FIAT brand and American automaker Chrysler, in which it owns a controlling stake. FIAT says the 500L's platform will underpin a future compact Jeep crossover in the US, as well as replacements for FIAT's compact Punto and Multipla models sold in Europe and other markets.

The European Ellezero will go on sale in July, with US sales expected soon after. In the States, the hatchback will likely be powered by the same 101-horsepower 1.4-liter four-cylinder that currently propels the compact 500, though a new diesel engine is also possible. While the low power output may not seem like enough for a larger version of the 500, FIAT says the 500L measures just 2.4 inches longer than the diminutive 500 despite its increased passenger capacity.

The 500L nameplate was first used on an upscale version of the original FIAT 500 beginning in 1968. Sold through 1972, the 500L featured cosmetic enhancements over the standard 500 model including an upscale interior complete with full carpeting, updated instrument panels and revised dashboards. Pricing for the new model has not yet been announced, though we expect it to include a sizable bump over the base-level 500, which starts around $16,000 including destination.

What it means to you: FIAT knows it will need to offer more variations on the 500 in order to boost sales.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
FIAT to Revive 500L Nameplate for Larger Model - Autotrader