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Fiat 500L goes star Trekking 

FIAT added a new flagship model to its 500L range last September and it was a star attraction during my time with it.

The 500L Trekking has a galaxy of top features, not least its sporty yet rugged appearance.

It stands out from other 500L models with its specially-designed bumpers, underbody protection shields front and rear, diamond-finish alloy wheels, and satin-finish inserts on the bumpers, side mouldings and door handles.

A further clue to the Trekking’s off-road potential is its raised ride height and mud and snow all-season tyres.

It doesn’t have full 4×4 ability but is more than capable of traveling on some rough country roads and tricky terrain thanks to Traction+.

This is easily activated by pressing a button in front of the gear lever and transfers grip between the right and left sides, allowing the Trekking to travel in conditions other two-wheel drive cars wouldn’t be capable of.

The test car – a top-of-the-range £19,590-priced 1.6 MultiJet 105bhp – arrived in shining Opera Red, one of seven new body colours for Trekking.

Interior space is the same as other 500L models – surprisingly roomy and able to squeeze three adults into the back seat for short journeys.

Boot capacity is decent at 400 litres, extending to a 1,310 litres flat loading area when the 60/40 split rear seats are folded.

Fiat has upped the quality in its bright interior and I found the driving seat particularly comfortable.

I didn’t venture off the tarmac and felt the Trekking’s on-road behaviour was pretty decent despite its raised height.

There is a choice of two petrol and two diesel engines with the 1.6-litre diesel unit in the test car well up to the task.

It’s not a model for racing off the blocks but picks up speed smartly enough with a zero to 62mph time of 12 seconds and was punchy moving up through the slick six-speed manual gearbox and is capable of reaching 109mph.

Impressive fuel economy figures of 60.1mpg combined, 68.9mpg extra urban and 50.4mpg urban are achieved thanks to Fiat’s MultiJet II technology and stop/start feature.

The 1.6 engine is proving popular since being introduced into the 500L range with 20 per cent of buyers opting for it.

Prices start at £17,095 and the high level of standard equipment – also on other 500L models – includes air conditioning, five-inch touch-screen radio with Bluetooth and cruise control.

Trekking gets other items, including dark tinted widows, rear parking sensors, and for the first time fitted as standard in a Fiat – city brake control which is designed to prevent low-speed collisions in traffic.

This system operates at speeds between three and 19mph, detecting a frontal collision and applying the brakes if there is no action from the driver.

Also standard is Uconnect ‘infotainment’ platform – a multi-function system using the five-inch turchscreen.

It is also available with optional digital radio and includes functions with the ability to connect media players and mobile or smartphones – enabling hands-free access.

One of the options on the test car was a superb Beats Audio hi-fi system and subwoofer, priced at £600.

The Trekking has many top features, not the least its looks and smart, quality interior, and could be a real star for Fiat.