Instead of four-wheel drive, the Fiat 500L Trekking has some clever electronics and all-weather tyres to maximise grip in slippery conditions.
We found the tyres had enough grip to make a decent fist of the hill-start test, although the handbrake needed to be pulled on firmly before it would hold.
Otherwise the 500L Trekking proved a lacklustre tow car. The 1.6-litre diesel engine mustered a lot of noise but not much in the way of acceleration, towing from 30-60mph in 24.5 seconds. That’s especially disappointing when you consider that the 500L was pulling just 1100kg because of its meagre towing limit: considerably less than most of the other cars in its weight class.
Sluggish acceleration can be forgiven if a car is stable once bullied up to speed, but the Fiat feels too soft and floaty with a caravan in tow. Once a swaying motion developed it took a long time to settle down.
The Fiat is better suited to everyday driving. The soft suspension delivers a comfortable ride, the cabin is reasonably spacious and there’s a certain character to the interior and exterior styling. It’s a practical car, too, with impressive luggage space for a car of this size – enough room for all our holiday luggage.