Fiat 500X Crossover Review

In Car Reviews, Fiat by Tom Scanlan

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Fiat’s new ‘crossover’ (as this type of car is called) is all about heritage, design and substance…says Fiat.

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And, like the original tiny 500 more than fifty years ago, it’s about being ‘sexy, cool and Italian’ — the car that is, not necessarily the driver.

 

As far as crossover cars go, the 500X is bigger than its rivals; these are in order of sales success, the Nissan Juke, Vauxhall Mokkaa, Renault Captur, Skoda Yeti and Suzuki SX4 and then all the others. This relatively big car will, we hear, appeal to stylish, adventurous types who are both outgoing and technically savvy.

The official launch date is Friday, April 24. At this point, ten versions of the car are immediately available, featuring three engine variants — two diesel and one petrol — along with a three-trim range starting with Pop, moving up to Pop Star and topping out with Lounge. Whoever came up with those titles is either a fool or a genius.

Also, there’s a choice of two body styles: City and Off Road. Off Road is in two trims, Cross and Cross Plus. The obvious differences between the two body types are from the waist line down, with the City having a few chrome embellishments and the Off Road looking more macho, especially at the front, with plastic lower body protection.This is not just for show, because the Off Road version can be had with switchable four-wheel-drive or Fiat’s Traction-plus system. If the car is going to be used regularly over unmade roads, cart tracks and so on, then, if it’s anything like Fiat’s Trekking 4X4 Pandas, for example, it will prove to be an able performer.

The two cars I tried out over identical routes made for a very interesting comparison. These were the petrol 1.4 MultiAir 140hp Pop Star and then the 1.6 diesel MultiJet 120hp Pop Star. The prices were, respectively £17,595 plus options bringing it to £20,295, and £19,095 plus the same options bringing it up to £21,545.

The 4-cylinder petrol engine proved to be particularly quiet and smooth. Right from the start, the car felt comfortable and refined to travel in and easy to drive. The flexibility of the engine was remarkably good, too and it was only at around 1000 rpm in sixth gear that any vibration became apparent, and felt through the steering wheel. The little engine’s torque was the reason for this flexibility and only the steepest of hills required me to drop down a gear or two. The car was not at all fussed when revved hard up to the red line. It was quite a quick car, able to reach 62 mph in 9.8 seconds. Top speed is claimed to be 118 mph (not tested!).

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The gear change was light and precise, especially in the higher gears. The brakes were excellent and the steering and handling was quite sharp. All in all, it was a car that I felt secure in and was also very enjoyable to drive.

The diesel car was next and immediately a big difference was evident in the refinement  and noise level. Not that it was bad. In fact, it was as good as most other similar size and power diesel engines. Compared to the MultiAir, though, it was a work horse against a thoroughbred and was best kept at at least 1,500 rpm. Of course, it smoothed out at higher speeds, and really came into its own when a real surge of acceleration was required.

It also easily beat the petrol engine in fuel consumption. On my two runs, the petrol car’s trip computer indicated an overall 43.5 mpg (official combined cycle 47.1) while the diesel showed 56.8 mpg (official combined 68.9); even given that diesel is a few per cent more expensive than petrol, that’s significant. The choice between these two will depend, therefore, on how much you value refinement, and how the car will be used — lots of short journeys: petrol. Regular long trips and hilly terrain: diesel. Oh, and the difference in purchase price, of course. The diesel has lower emissions, 109 g/km compared with 139 g/km, which means a saving of £75 a year in road tax.

On that note, it would be well worth investigating Fiat’s variety of PCPs where initial deposits and monthly payments could well sort things out nicely.

Along with the sophisticated infotainment system on board, and the impressive list of safety features and options, the 500X package is an impressive one. I thought the satellite navigation touch screen was particularly good.

Space in the rear is good for all but two tall adults. The boot is nicely carpeted, and a full-size spare lurks under its floor. If the stringy things that hold the rear cover to the tailgate are the only flimsy bits to be found, then all-in-all, Fiat may well achieve their aim of pinching lots of customers from other crossover car makers.

They mean business…money is being spent on marketing. The 500X brochure is as glossy a publication you get from any ‘prestige’ marque — and look out for their naughty ‘blue pill’ TV ad!

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Fiat 500X Pop Star 1.4 MultiAir II 140hp


On the road price: £17,595, Price with options as tested £20,295

Engine: 1368cc 4-cyl, EU6 petrol
Power: 140hp/5000rpm
Torque: 230Nm/1750rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual, front-wheel-drive
0-62mph: 9.8 seconds
Top speed: 118 mph
Fuel economy: urban 36.2/extra urban 56.5/combined 47.1 mpg
CO2 emissions: 139 g/km
Insurance Group: 11

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Fiat 500X Pop Star 1.6 MultiJet II 120hp


On the road price: £19095 Price with options as tested £21545

Engine: 1598cc 4-cyl, EU6 Diesel
Power: 120HP/3750rpm
Torque: 320Nm/1750rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual, front-wheel-drive
0-62mph: 10.5 seconds
Top speed: 116 mph
Fuel economy: urban 60.1/extra urban 74.3/combined 68.9 mpg
CO2 emissions: 109 g/km
Insurance Group: 13

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About the Author
Tom Scanlan

Tom Scanlan

'Tom Scanlan has written for a wide variety of magazines and newspapers, particularly the Reading Evening Post for ten years, having got into motoring journalism in 1973 via the somewhat unlikely back door of the British Forces Broadcasting Service. BFBS produced a weekly radio motoring show for the services overseas and Tom produced it, as well as interviewing experts and eventually reporting on cars. He is into classic cars and has owned Porsche, Ferrari, pre-war Alvis and Rileys and currently owns his fifth old Alfa Romeo, a 1984 GTV 2.0. In his spare time, Tom is a professional cricket coach.'

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Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Fiat 500X
Author Rating
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