July 19, 2012 at 8:06 AM ET
These days, almost every car on the road is likely to offer a couple cup holders. But that means you still have to brew up your own batch of java or stop at the local coffee shop on your way to work. Not so when the new Fiat 500L hits the road in October.
The European version, at least, will include what the Italian automaker is billing as “the first standard-production car in the world to offer a true espresso coffee machine.”’
It probably should come as no surprise that Fiat would offer the option, considering Italy’s intense love of a bitter shot of espresso. No word whether it will make cappuccino, as well, however.
The maker is “perfectly integrated” into the center console, the automaker explains and was developed for the 500L by Italy’s largest coffee chain, Lavazza. It uses single-shot cartridges that minimize the hassle and avoid the risk of dumping coffee grounds all over the car.
Several other manufacturers, including Mercedes-Benz and Ford, have recently introduced driver alert systems designed to signal a motorist who appears to be getting drowsy. They use a coffee cup symbol to warn that it’s time to pull over. With the Fiat 500L, apparently, a driver wouldn’t need to go looking for a coffee shop.
The Fiat 500L will be the next model to join the maker’s American line-up. It appears there are no plans to bring the espresso machine along for the trans-Atlantic ride, however.
The introduction of a full-fledged espresso machine in the new four-door model is a sharp switch in direction for Fiat. European manufacturers long disdained the American demand for cup holders, adding them only when it became apparent they were losing business to U.S. and Japanese brands.
But motorists have been looking for more than just a place to store their beverages. A number of new models now include chilled glove boxes where you can cool down a soft drink can. And the latest version of the 300C sedan, produced by Fiat’s U.S. partner Chrysler, offers cup holders that can be set to either chill or heat your beverage.
Meanwhile, for those with the resources, the new Rolls-Royce Phantom II offers a rear seat refrigerator for storing a bottle of your favorite bubbly, as well as a cut crystal decanter for those who prefer a nice single malt scotch. There are matching glasses, as well, as one might expect.