Five-door Fiat 500L coming to North America

Andross Moonah - CAP staff
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Fiat's current 500 subcompact car is available in coupe, convertible and performance-oriented Abarth versions and is a modern interpretation of the bestselling original 500, which debuted in 1957. But although the miniature Italian automobile has become quite popular since its introduction to Canada in 2011, its sales results so far have disappointed Fiat.

As Bloomberg Businessweek reports, Fiat sold 26,000 500s in North America during 2011, which was the current 500's first year within the North American market. Couple this result with Fiat's desire to increase revenue to over $134 billion by 2014 and it seems a new strategy for making sales is required. "We thought we were going to show up and just because of the fact people like gelato and pasta, people will buy it," said Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne. "This is nonsense."

In a bid to boost 500 sales, Fiat plans to introduce its new 500L to the American market and it's possible that a Canadian introduction may soon follow.

The Fiat 500L made its world debut this past March at the Geneva Motor Show in Switzerland and is a larger, more practical version of the 500 as evidenced by the "L" in 500L which stands for "Large." While the Fiat 500 offers three doors and seating for four occupants, the 500L has five doors and a more conventional five-seat configuration, and it also has nearly 400 litres of space in the trunk. Though it is more utilitarian than the 500, the 500L manages a similar design aesthetic and features a glass roof as well as 30 body colours to choose from.

Power for the 500L comes from either an inline four-cylinder 1.4-litre gasoline engine, an even smaller inline two-cylinder TwinAir 0.9-litre gasoline engine or an inline four-cylinder 1.3-litre MultiJet II turbocharged diesel engine.

Fiat's competitor, Mini, already sells a similar vehicle to the 500L to Canadians in the form of the Mini Countryman. In fact, Mini has expanded its product range well beyond its original offering to include a convertible, a roadster and other more utilitarian models. It seems Fiat intends to do the same with the new 500L, which will join the coupe and convertible variants of the current 500.

Fiat plans to introduce the new 500L to the European market in the last quarter of 2012 while the American debut will happen next year according to Bloomberg Businessweek. It's likely the new Fiat 500L will arrive in Canada next year as well due to Fiat's desire to improve North American sales and compete with similar models already on sale here.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Fiat, 500L, 2013, Subcompact, Hatchback, Wagon,

Geographic location: North America

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