Sensible crossover dressed with stylish supermini looks
- Retains styling of Fiat 500
- Spacious cabin
- Practical features
- Easy to drive
- Cheap interior plastics
- No hybrid or electric model
- Small infotainment screen
Trying to gain traction in the small car market requires not one model, but a whole family - which is why the new Fiat 500X has been added to the successful (and retro) Fiat 500 range. This third distinct model in the line-up, after 500C and 500L, boasts rugged SUV looks and is set to take on the MINI Countryman, Vauxhall Mokka and closely-related Jeep Renegade at their own game.
Two models of Fiat 500X available
Two flavours of 500X are on offer: the City Look range comes with body-coloured exterior and interior trim, designed to appeal to young inner-city buyers who value style and image above anything else. The alternative Off Road division builds on the image of SUV capability, donning chunkier bodywork and the option of four-wheel drive.
Whichever you opt for, there are 12 different body colours and up to five different designs for the alloy wheels; which are available in 16-, 17- and 18-inch flavours.
Engine and transmission choices
Given its intended use, a fair share of Fiat 500X models will come with a diesel engine nestled under their retro bonnets and buyers have the choice of a 95hp 1.3-litre Multijet or a 120hp 1.6-litre of the same designation. A 140hp 2.0-litre option was discontinued come March 2017.
The most powerful petrol the range is a 140hp version of the same engine, with the 110hp 1.6-litre E-torq non-turbo’d unit offered as the entry-level option.
Here in the UK we'll have to make do without the exciting sounding 'Tigershark' 181bhp 2.4-litre petrol engine – the automatic-only 170hp 1.4-litre Turbo Multiair II promised similar power with far more efficiency, but this discontinued early 2016.
Depending on which engine you opt for the 500X comes with either a five- or six-speed manual gearbox, A fast-shifting, six-speed dual-clutch automatic is available on the higher-powered engines.
Front and Four-wheel drive - and Traction Plus
Those never looking to tackle anything more challenging than a supermarket car park should stick with a front-wheel drive 500X, as there are small cost savings from lower fuel consumption and CO2 emissions to take advantage of. However if your local supermarket is somewhat out in the wilds, Fiat has the answer thanks to its front-wheel drive model with Traction Plus.
By altering the way the power is fed to the front axle in these situations the system finds the best grip and traction available, maintaining momentum to pull you out of any sticky (or not so sticky) situations. Those wanting the most capable 500X can have a part-time four-wheel drive system that transfers power between the front and rear axles on the move, depending on conditions.
Named the Drive Mood Selector which allows users to choose from three distinct modes for the 500X's engine, brakes, steering and gearbox responses. Auto offers the best of both worlds, while Sport sharpens everything up. Choosing All-Weather maximises the car's stability in low-grip situations on front-wheel drive models and is replaced with an off-road optimising Traction function on four-wheel drive cars.
Ample space hidden within 500 looks
Small on the outside but with a spacious cabin, the 500X offers seven different interior fabric, leather and colour options and a 350-litre boot. As well as the firm's 5.0- or 6.5-inch Uconnect colour touchscreen infotainment system, Bluetooth, aux-in and USB connectivity feature on all, while the smaller screen can be had with TomTom navigation - choose the 6.5-inch example and it comes with 3D maps already.
All but the base spec Pop model come with DAB radio fitted and those willing to spend extra can add a Beats hi-fi produced in collaboration with Dr.Dre.
The Parkers Verdict
The Fiat 500X manages to extend the firm’s 500 range with greater success than the Fiat 500L, thanks to a better judged balance in looks and added practicality. For those looking at a retro-styled crossover with a spacious interior, the 500X fits the bill well; even if it lacks the sparkle of the regular, smaller 500 hatch.
As a small-medium sized crossover, this betters the Vauxhall Mokka as a more comprehensive package, but lacks the cabin quality of its more premium rivals