After reviewing the Fiat 500’s sister car, the rugged and charming Jeep Renegade, I was looking forward to taking the Fiat 500X for a run. The ever expanding Fiat 500 family is providing what appears to be a growing list of appealing diversity in the range, and understandably Fiat are keen to capitalise on the retro 500’s success. Indeed, a raised, beefed up Fiat 500 doesn’t exactly look amiss on the roads of the UK – I took one to Cornwall for a springtime roadtrip to see if its bolstered looks stacked up.
At a glace, the Fiat 500x looks a little ungainly – almost as if it’s hunched forward slightly. However, it does all make sense, even if it takes a little while to get used to the fact it is still in essence a cutesy little city car. The muscular rear arches and emphasised profile look far more at home here than they do in the ungainly, and frankly rather ugly Fiat 500L, and it’s clear why a beefed up 500 may be more appealing to buyers in the style department. The looks translate to the interior too, and like the Jeep Renegade, a chunky steering wheel combined with no nonsense, chunky dials and an easy reach screen and display add to the charm. I particularly liked the round gearstick and position of the level…in what is quite a chunky car it made the manual variant a pleasure. It’s all soft touch and really quite plush, and what you’d expect from an ever improving Fiat range.
I tested what will be the biggest selling diesel, the 1.6 providing a healthy 118bhp. Economy being name of the game here, it claims to return up to 70mpg and driving to Cornwall I got pretty close, even without the benefit of the option 9 speed auto. Fiat also offer a 1.4 petrol, which would appear to be rather more refined, quieter and less fussy than the diesel, however if you’re really intent on a more powerful oil burner, a 2.0 is offered too.
The Fiat felt surprisingly at home on the tight, windy roads of west Cornwall. It was a joy to flip through the smooth 6-speed gearbox, however the slightly rugged diesel admittedly feels a little more at home in the purposely rugged, agricultural Renegade. However, it is cheaper to buy than the Renegade, and drives well, with taught body control, a good chassis and plenty of poke for overtaking the pesky tractors. In a more sedate guise, the car is effortlessly comfortable – not only returning excellent mpg but providing incredibly comfortable seats, a great sound system and little in the way of road or excess wind noise. I appreciated the driving position too, sitting lower but higher up because of the raised ride height. Additionally, the level of flexibility in the seat arrangements was welcome. As with many of its crossover contemporaries, the ride is a mix bag in general, and certainly not without its faults, but the comfort, ride height, seating position and space in both the front and the back makes up for it. For the nearly 1000 miles I covered in the car over the space of a week, I was never uncomfortable or left wanting for more space or extra customisation
Unlike its counterpart the Jeep Renegade, the Fiat 500X’s off road capability doesn’t really ever introduce itself, despite the top spec models being available with an on-demand 4×4 system. There is a crossover style ‘grip control’ system, but this is a firmly front wheel drive affair. That being said, its style and ambition, like the Renegade, is charming, and you don’t deny its ability to be a fairly practical people and load carrier. On a fairly lengthy trip, it carried numerous bags and bits and bobs for me on a variety of roads, and it hardly complained. In fact, the longer I spent with it, the more adept it seemed at dealing with my needs.
The Fiat 500X is a very tidy package, both in terms of the way it drives and how it improves and adds value to the existing 500 range. Adding value is genuinely what it does too, this is a charmingly affordable car and will win your head over with its price – this test car being a smidge over £16,000, which makes economy and undeniably appealing factor. The more time you spend with it, the more its style and charm will win you over, too. My money would still be on the Jeep Renegade for its care-free attitude, but if school runs and morning commutes are more your bag, this is definitely the crossover to go for and a strong contender for top of the class.
For more information: