Fiat 500X 2015 review
The new Fiat 500X is the Italian manufacturer’s first nod to the burgeoning SUV market. It’s been released with two ‘looks’, the ‘City’ – more closely allied to the classic Fiat 500 style – and the more rugged ‘Off-road’, including the front-wheel drive 500X Cross and the 4x4 500X Cross Plus. Here, we’ll take a look to see how the 500X stacks up against some of the more established SUV models.
A car that conjures images of roads up precarious Italian cliff-sides, the 500X has embraced the flexibility of the crossover models. Visually, the car has been lifted compared to the 500, with an extra bulge that skirts the car from front bumper, over the wheel arches and to the rear.
Fiat have blended Italian style in across the 500 range, and the 500X is no different, featuring a range of colourful decals to help personalise each car to individual tastes. There are a number of ‘Xtra’ packs on offer, most of which include decals for the bonnet and roof as well as wing-mirror covers and door cards. Buyers can also choose from a vibrant range of wheel options – silver and white, red and black and classic black – for just £800. Unlike a traditional trim option, these accessories can largely be retrofitted to the 500X after purchase, allowing you to get a feel for the character of the car before freshening up your look later.
For those who are less fond of the rugged off-road look, the Popstar and Lounge trims help to bring back an element of city chic, while there are also a host of customisation options for practical external features, such as a roof rack specifically designed for skis and snowboards, bike racks and a boot liner for muddy shoes. Fiat offer an 18in alloy option for the 500X, though preliminary tests have thrown up a preference for the smooth ride of the 17in option.
There’s a maturity to the cabin design of the 500X, with an elegant instrument panel stashed below the dash-mounted gear shift, and a fun, flat-bottomed steering wheel for ease of access. Fiat have brought a touch of the outside in, with the standard 500X coming complete with a body-coloured polished strip, while the rugged Cross version represents its character with a rough alloy finish. Some details have been overlooked in favour of others, such as the functional column stalks and hard-feel rear door tops, but the attention paid to the infotainment system and chromed door handles gives this model a distinctively Fiat feel.
The infotainment system, controlled from a 6.5in touchscreen on the centre console, features Bluetooth connectivity for music and call functionality, while the Lounge and Cross Plus trims also tie into a handy sat nav system.
The adjusted ride height, down 45mm on its cousin the Renegade, gives the car a more dynamic driving experience as well as making it feel roomier throughout the cabin. Those who prefer the visibility of SUV-type cars can raise themselves back up with the seat height adjuster. Passengers in the back will also be free to spread out, with oodles of space and cubby holes to stash everything from drinks to valuables, including extra-wide door storage. Boot space is practical if not generous for a car of this size, boasting a hefty 350 litres that can be increased with some rear-seat wizardry.
On the road
Although both 4x4 and front-wheel options are available, the front-wheel models are likely to lead the way in terms of sales. Engines include the 138bhp 1.4-litre Turbo MultiAir2 petrol, 118bhp 1.6-litre MultiJet II diesel (both front-wheel drive) and 138bhp 2.0-litre MultiJet II (4x4 with automatic transmission), while Fiat have recently souped up part of the range with the addition of an Abarth tuned beast under the bonnet. The diesel is earmarked to be the most successful at the showrooms, with a fuel efficiency of 69.9mpg and emissions of 109g/km on top of a 0 – 62mph speed pf 10.5 seconds.
Gear changes have been made noticeably smoother in the 500X, while you can feel a surge in torque from well below 2,000rpm right up to 4,000rpm, making it feel nippy on the tarmac. In true Italian style, the car is a choreographed mover, taking sharp and winding corners with ease, gripping the tarmac as well as holding back from understeer and roll more effectively than many other crossover models.
Bellissima - the Fiat 500X has added practicality to the 500 range, carried out with iconic Italian style. And, while some may ask for further improvements to the ride quality, the driving comfort, overall space and visibility have all been enhanced – we reckon car buyers will warm to the 500X in the same way as the 500, which has shifted over 200,000 cars to date.