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Small cars have always had one of two personalities. They were either as cheap as chips or trendy, carefree, and fun. Well, apart from the ones that marketing people like to call “fun to drive” (eg the Dodge Neon and it’s, cough, siblings).

The trouble with small cars for the mass market is the fact they’re small. The mass market doesn’t do small. SUVs and trucks fill American roads, and are a fast growing part of the traffic in most other countries. Small just doesn’t cut it with most of the population.

So makers of small cars have to work had to appeal to as much of the small-loving market as possible. The BMW Mini (built in Britain and designed in California by an American who was born in Casablanca, to a Norwegian and Spanish parents, for a German company) has spawned a hardtop, Clubman, Countryman, Coupe, and Roadster. If you throw in the whole gamut of options for colors, wheels, stripes, and god knows what else, it’s amazing that any two of them are the same. What they do share is the cute-gene the first one was born with. I mean the roadster is pretty ridiculous, but the whole lot managed to broaden the appeal of the brand while retaining the original’s looks. And they’ve managed to grow in size.

So, if the American/Casablancan/Norwegian/Spanish/German/British mix can turn out a range of small cars, what about the Italians?

No, no, stop laughing and pick yourselves up off the floor – you’re forgetting the Fiat 500. Not the 1960’s rust bucket, the shiny new 21st century one.

Fiat 500 (Courtesy

Surely this could be transformed into something a little larger for people who have things – like families, for example?

Well, yes it can. Enter the Fiat 500L, the five door Fiat 500. It’s claimed that the “L” suffix stands for “long,” but I suspect it really means lame. I mean, how difficult can it be to take something so cool it spawns ads like this

and turn it into something larger but cool.?

Apparently, quite difficult if you’re Fiat …

I mean, the front’s been squared off and the lights are smeared across the front like melting clocks. The curves that graced the original’s windscreen have been replaced by straight lines from the laziest-way-to-get-from-A-to-B styling handbook.

The rear eschews the charm of the base car for what must have been an unused idea in the Fiat corporate designs-that-didn’t-work bin. Quite possibly in the heavy earth lifting equipment designs-that-didn’t-work bin. I mean if Fiat really wanted a car like this why didn’t they just sell their existing Fiat Panda?

So, what do you think? Long or Lame? Little or large? Which do you prefer?



(Images courtesy of and


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