All-new Fiat 500XL set to replace family duo
Fiat is likely to merge the 500X and 500L models for their next generation, which should use the same underpinnings as the newly launched all-electric 500.
The SUV and MPV versions of the existing 500 have been on sale since 2014 and 2012 respectively. The 500X has been a strong performer for Fiat, shifting between 75,000 and 105,000 units across Europe alone during the past five years. Yet while the 500L did nudge 95,000 sales in 2014, its numbers dropped back to around 36,000 units last year as customers moved away from MPVs towards crossovers and SUVs. A seven-seater is still sold in Italy as the 500L Wagon, but not in key markets such as the UK, France or Germany.
In normal car life cycles, the 500L is overdue replacement and the new 500X would arrive in 2021. But Fiat boss Olivier François told Auto Express that when the new generation does arrive, it’ll probably be a single ‘500XL’ model, instead of two cars.
“The L is a particularly good body, high on wheels, to add batteries,” he said. “Family transportation is a good candidate for electrification, too, because it involves a lot of city driving, a lot of stop and go, school and work runs. But at the same time, it’s not a Utility Vehicle, a UV; it’s an MPV, and this type of car is a little less in fashion now.
“We need to think of the next generation with the same approach to the consumer that makes a lot of sense in an all-electric version, with a body that is obviously more relevant and in fashion. We’re thinking maybe a blend of the X and L is the way ahead, at the end of the day. But it is not for the near future – and when I say near, I mean not by the end of this year, for sure.”
Our illustrations show how a 500XL could look, based on the premise that it would stay closer to the bigger-selling 500X’s styling than the MPV’s. We would expect it to use the latest 500’s front-end design, but a stretched wheelbase will bring greater space and allow more battery storage to give the bigger car a longer range. Inside, it could well be the second model to get infotainment and connectivity systems introduced on the 500 Electric.
On the face of it, the disappearance of the larger, more practical 500L could cause Fiat a problem. But the brand is also hoping to rapidly expand its family range, including a full-sized, Nissan Qashqai-rivalling SUV, and that could cover off the needs of most existing 500L customers.
Before the new model arrives, expect the 500X and 500L to get the same mild-hybrid powertrains that have already appeared in the current 500 and Panda. This tech boost will help to see both models through their final 18 months before replacement.
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