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First Drive : Fiat 500L Beats Edition

Fiat 500L Beats Edition.

Fiat 500L Beats Edition.

The 500L Beats Edition takes the ruggedly smart 500L Trekking and adds a big stereo from the makers of Beats Audio headphones. Imagine Daniel Craig holding a ghetto blaster and you’re along the right lines.

It keeps the chunky, off-road capable tyres and tall stance of the Trekking, but on the inside there’s a multi-speaker sound system that includes a subwoofer for deeper, more powerful bass notes. Even playing music through a basic Bluetooth connection the quality is surprisingly good.

Fiat has chosen to squeeze as much potential for fun as possible into its new range of cars, setting them up not just as everyday tools but as essential parts of a lifestyle, and it’s the lifestyle they’re starting to sell.

Special colour schemes and red detailing throughout the car make this probably the best-looking of all the 500Ls that have come to the market. Frankly it’s a smashing-looking no-so-little thing, and a car that most young families would be over the moon to have outside their houses.

You might have noticed how many 500Ls are on British roads already, bought by people graduating from the funky and cute 500 into the equally customisable but more family-friendly L version. Tapping into the lifestyle angle is doing Fiat sterling service, and the Beats Edition is a worthy flagship.

The boot floor is pretty high, but don’t let that put you off. There’s still a load of room in there for everyday stuff, even if it’s maybe too plush a car to want to try to squeeze a St Bernard into the back. Families will just want to have a nosey around to see if it’s big enough for their own lifestyles.

On the practicality front, the Trekking platform comes with chunky semi-winter tyres as standard, giving the Beats Edition a huge grip advantage when temperatures take a plunge. When snow and ice arrive, you’ll be grateful for this rubber.

Mild-mannered, easy to drive and surprisingly comfortable are the defining characteristics, although an honorary mention goes to the Beats Audio stereo system, which, while it can’t touch the Meridian and Naim packages in Jaguars and Bentleys, makes a brilliant fist of giving your music a bit more punch.

The new 120-horsepower 1.6-litre diesel engine is a star, too, using new turbocharger technology to make itself much, much quieter and more refined than its predecessors. Good visibility is yours thanks to plenty of glass and a high seating position, which also makes the Beats easy to park.

If there’s a spanner in the works, it’s the price. There was probably a large pot of money sent to Beats Audio at some stage and Fiat needs to make that back, so next to the 500L Trekking the Beats looks a little bit overpriced. That said, there are enough neat details and styling touches to make some buyers fall for the looks enough to want to splash out.

The family that revolves around music would love this. Whether it’s classical or hip-hop, the Beats Audio system pumps out the tunes with that ‘wow factor’. In this class of car there aren’t many other options with great stereos, so anyone who loves turning their favourite music up should start forming an orderly queue.

 

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