First it was called ‘Long’. Then they called it ‘Plus’, and some people started to call it ‘500 XL’. Finally, after many considerations, Fiat decided to call ‘Living’, the new 7 seater 500L. It is the most important launch of the brand in 2013, and is expected to become a core product that will help the 500L to keep its success. With 2 more seats, this new MPV adds 20 cms to total length, so it could be positioned between B-MPV and C-MPV segments. Outside it looks like a stretched 500L, so it doesn’t have the good balance in terms of design. It is certainly not the most beautiful car, but it will be for sure an excellent choice for those looking for a roomy car but compact as well. And that’s the key for its success. I started to look at people’s comments, once Fiat made official its first pictures, and I must say that the first impressions aren’t the best. At this point I would like first to discuss about it, and then give my own opinion about this new Fiat.
It is true that it is a disproportionate car. It is also true that Fiat designers could have done a bit better to differentiate it from its smaller brother. But sometimes critiques are a bit exaggerated. The Living isn’t as ugly as a Multipla (as some readers were saying). It is just a family car for many passengers in 4,35 m long. Looking at the interior pictures, some other readers said that there was no trunk. This is completely wrong and is more a bad than a reasonable critique. The fact that it is not seen in the picture, it doesn’t mean there is no room for the luggage. Even in other cars’ pictures, it is not possible to see everything in the same picture. But from the comments I could see, there was one quite interesting: why is Fiat ruining the good reputation of the 500’s nameplate? the 500 is an excellent car (maybe the best Fiat in the last 30 years), and has brought a lot of success to the brand. In fact, it is one of the few Fiats that is well-known in many markets. Enlarging the family is not a bad move, as Fiat can extend the success of the city car into other segments, just as it is happening with the 500L. But one of the key features of the 500 is its design: it is just gorgeous. It is not the case for the 500L Living, which is a completely different car. Despite the fact they point to different segments and targets, they all use the same nameplate that helped Fiat to survive in the last 5 years. Fiat should be careful about this and have a very good positioning plan so the new Living can enlarge the success and not become the product that ruined the image of the iconic 500.
In my opinion the Fiat 500L Living a good car from the point of view of functionality. You won’t be able to find a comfortable 7-seater MPV with only 4,35 m long. Besides, it will priced starting at 19.000 euros, which is not bad. If the car is positioned as I think, then Fiat would be covering an important segment (the SW, or in this case the MPV-SW) and at the same time it would be a tough alternative to other C-MPV that are more expensive and bigger. However, I think Fiat must be very careful about the use of the ‘500’ name, and try to use it only when the brand talks about style and personality (which are part of the new member). Instead, Fiat should use the name ‘Living’ when talking about the comfort and capacity features. It won’t be easy, as the car’s name is 500L Living, but the small 500 is an icon that Fiat should carefully take care. Meanwhile Serbian plant celebrates as it increases the production levels, and Italy gets ready for its first official presentation in Milan the 4th of July, to be finally introduced in Frankfurt 2013. By the way: what’s going to happen to the 7-seater Freemont? Fiat will reposition it in the next months.