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by Tim Beissmann

If you’re the kind of person who thinks the Mini Countryman is an oxymoronic abomination, you’re probably not going to be a fan of the upcoming Fiat 500XL.

Revealed for the first time in these leaked patent images (published by Left Lane News), the 500XL is a slightly larger version of the Fiat 500L that was revealed at the 2012 Geneva motor show in March and is a chance to go on sale in Australia as early as next year.

The Fiat 500XL will feature a larger rear overhang, a longer roof, a more upright rear window and tailgate and a flatter bumper than the 500L. The squarer rear end creates enough space for a third row of seats, which promises to make the Fiat 500XL one of the most compact seven-seaters available anywhere in the world.

Like the 500L, the 500XL is based on the Fiat Chrysler group’s ‘Small US Wide’ platform, which is considerably larger than the 500’s pint-sized ‘Fiat Mini’ platform.

A range of existing powertrains from the Fiat Chrysler stable are expected to be offered, including the 1.4-litre T-Jet petrol engine and at least one fuel-efficient four-cylinder diesel engine.

Rumours suggest the Fiat 500XL could make its world premiere at the 2012 Paris motor show in September ahead of its European launch in 2013.