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
On offer are two flavours of 500X, one designed to appeal to young inner-city buyers who value style and image above anything else and the other building on that image but with genuine off-road capability for those looking to pursue a range of lifestyle and outdoor activities with regularity.
Whichever you opt for there's 12 different body colours and eight different designs for the alloy wheels, which are available in 16-, 17- and 18-inch flavours, available.
Engine and transmission choices
Here in the UK we'll have to make do without the exciting sounding 'Tigershark' 181bhp 2.4-litre petrol engine - we will however enjoy the merits of the 168bhp 1.4-litre Turbo Multiair II instead. Smaller, but almost as powerful, it promises to be far more efficient. Joining this engine is a less powerful 138bhp version of the same and the entry-level 108bhp 1.6-litre E-torQ unit.
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 94bhp 1.3-litre Multijet II, a 118bhp 1.6-litre of the same designation and a 138bhp 2.0-litre.
Depending on which engine you opt for the 500X comes with either a five- or six-speed manual gearbox and six- or nine-speed automatic. The six-speed automatic is a fast-shifting double-clutch model, while the nine-speed automatic is all new to the Fiat range.
Front and Four-wheel drive - and Traction Plus
Those never looking to tackle anything more challenging than a Waitrose car park should stick with a front-wheel drive 500X, as there are small cost savings down to 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.
Poorly named is 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.
Inside the Fiat 500X
Small on the outside but with a spacious cabin the 500X offers seven different interior fabric, leather and colour options 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 example can be had with TomTom navigation - choose the 6.5-inch example and it comes with 3D maps already.
Those worried about banging tunes can add DAB radio and a Beats hi-fi produced in collaboration with Dr.Dre. Hip-young users can integrate their smartphones and access their apps on the move and family buers will appreciate the 350-litre boot space.