There’s something about Latin cars that brings on a little Italian flair to the writing even when, as in this case, under the skin they are a Jeep Renegade. The original FIAT 500 is now an object of automotive desire and the designers have done a great job with bringing the diminutive model into the 21st Century. What we didn’t know is that it would grow and grow. It grew into the 500L and then into the FIAT 500X Cross you see here.
Again, with this model it’s worth mentioning what a good job the company have done retaining the essence of the original Cinquecento even as it morphs into a crossover. I can’t go along with the idea that this is a proper SUV, although it proved to be very practical in use with a 245litre boot (seats up).
FIAT 500X In Glorious Technicolor
The FIAT 500X is available in some striking colours including the special and splendid ‘Tricoat Paint’ finish, in yellow as featured on the test car. It’s a full £1k option this special paint but it does look good. You couldn’t, for example, lose track of it in a packed supermarket car park as it stands out like a banana in a bowl of blueberries. Our test vehicle came loaded with goodies far too numerous to name so I have added the full specification below.
The FIAT 500X For Town & Country
Depending on what a buyer wants to do with it the car comes in two guises. There are front-wheel drive options designated ‘City’ or the slightly off-road oriented versions that are offered as The 500X ‘Cross’ range. Visual differences are that the 500X Cross gets more rugged bumpers and plastic mouldings, roof rails and (variably) a four-wheel-drive system.
The featured car offered ‘Traction Plus’ which distributes power to get the best available traction available, which is useful for those mucky, muddy country roads. If that’s still not rugged enough can choose a part-time four-wheel drive system that transfers power between the front and rear axles whilst on the go. This would be my preferred option as it offers a modicum of off-road ability, sufficient for most users, I suspect.
Driving The FIAT 500X
There’s a choice of manual or automatic gearboxes. The pictured car had a perfectly fine six-speed manual but my personal choice would be for the nine-speed auto which, when briefly tested, offered smooth shifting.
As ever buyers can choose from a selection of petrol or diesel engines. There’s a rather superfluous 1.6L petrol on offer but sensible buyers will opt for the turbocharged 1.4L petrol motor that comes with two power outputs, 138 and 168bhp. The more powerful of the two comes with that automatic gearbox. There’s a 1.6 Diesel as well for you more frugal types.
The FIAT 500X Cross as tested had the 138bhp turbo 1.4 and it was great. Lively, perky and happy to rev its socks off, it made driving this car a real pleasure. 62mph comes up in just under ten seconds so it’s no slouch and happily keeps abreast of all that motorway speeds can throw at it. A cracking little engine in my opinion.
Comfort is generally good, the FIAT being competent through the corners with good grip and minimal roll for a tall car. The ride perhaps is a bit fidgety but I put that down to the admittedly very attractive optional 18” wheels. Although big wheels always look good under the arches my thinking is that with this class of vehicle it is probably best to stick to the standard size offered by model variant.
No complaints about the interior. I quite like the dash; it’s fresh and modern and if, maybe, the touchscreen is a little small at 5”, at least it is easy to use and had, in the tested car, all the usual technology suspects, itemised on the spec.
These days there’s rarely any need to moan about the seats in cars and the 500X is as comfortable as the rest. In fact my only real issue is the amount of leg room in the back when tall people sit up front. As a small family car it fits the bill well but I wouldn’t want to regularly haul four adults about for any distance. To be fair, this is usually the case with these ‘crossover’ style vehicles. If you need more space get a big SUV or saloon.
Overall I am content. Although the FIAT 500X might have a close association with the Jeep Renegade (here), the two cars are very distinctly different. It’s the Latin temperament I imagine.