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Fiat 500L wagon revealed


The Fiat 500 has been morphed into a full-sized family car - provided the family is small and get on well.

There is also a very good chance that the upcoming 500L will eventually be put to work on all sorts of European errands as the new five-door 500 wagon is boxed into a van.

The 500L - which stands, predictably, for large - is being revealed next month at the Geneva motor show as Fiat grows the 500 family up from the hatch, Abarth and cabrio models.

The company says is creation was inspired by the 600 Multipla from the 1960s, and not the cute little 500-based wagon - and delivery van - called the Giandinera.

"The Multipla was a five-door car with six seats. The new Fiat 500L is along those lines," says Edward Rowe, spokesman for Fiat in Australia.

The 500L replaces the Fiat Idea and moves into a crowded class of baby family wagons that includes the Citroen C3 Picasso, Ford B-Max and Opel Meriva.

They have not worked in Australia, where SUVs are far more popular, but Fiat believes the 500L could work.

"We'll wait and see what the prices and specifications will be. It won't be released for sale in mainland Europe until the fourth quarter of the year," says Rowe.

"That indicates it won't be in right-hand drive until the middle of next year. We won't have final details for quite some time. But he knows Australians will not even consider the 500L without an automatic, and perhaps until there are rivals - perhaps including the C3 Picasso which would also be handed by the Fiat importer, Ateco.

"Well need a self-shifting gearbox, suitable engine and suitable pricing. That market segement doesn't really exist in Australia. But by then the Citroen C3 Picasso could be available with an automatic gearbo," says Rowe.

The 500L is 4.1 metres long and 1.66 metres high, will be built at the Fiat factory in Kragujevac, Serbia and will be available in Europe with TwinAir and 1.4-litre petrol engines, and a 1.3-litre JultiJet II turbodiesel.