★★★ | Fiat 500X | 500 x 500 = BIG
Since l was a child l have always liked Fiat. l am sure one of the first words from my mouth was Fiat. l like them so much my personal fleet consists of an X1/9 and a Tempra and until recently we also had a 500 Pop. Fiats do something to you that not many other manufactures can. It could be that Fiat have always been a bit of an under dog; making well thought out cars, but somehow not executing the product to the same standards as those from Germany.
There is an illogical passion behind every Fiat owner.
The Fiat range has sadly become all about the 500. Launched almost decade ago Fiat now list 3 variants in their 5 car line up in the UK. There is a now a 500 for everyone’s’ needs. l had thought that Fiat, my once great love had lost their way, so when l was offered the chance to look over the 500X l didn’t refuse. l even washed my hair for the occasion.
You give it a name and you pat it when you park it up at night. It’s become a thing to touch and more than just an item to behold.
The 500X is more than just a larger version of the 500 with 5 doors, a lot more space and all for an extra 70 cm in length. Sadly it lacks the tactility of the little 500. You can’t fault the exterior looks. Fiat have done a great job in making something small keep its visual pleasures in this bigger model. The inside however on this model just tries too hard to do a job that it can’t on such a grand scale.
It has 500 touches but the tactility of its smaller family member are lost in great masses of black plastic and dull fabric colours. What l am trying to say is it’s too dark inside. That said, it is well put together.
As you would expect from a small sport utility vehicle type of machine, the ride would be compromised. The fact that this shares the same platform as the Jeep Renegade that l liked so much, l was sure l would have been able to write exactly what l did for that. l can’t. Unlike its Jeep sibling, the 500X rode with a much softer ride.
The 500X felt very much more like the urban runaround with pretensions to go off the beaten track. You couldn’t fault the ride and handling. It was reassuring on the road and handled the road far better than some SUV’s l have tried. l would even go as far to say that the extra weight in the rear also helped plant it better on the road thus helping its handling over many front wheel drive cars with fatter lower profile tyres.
The package is different too; with some of the FCA software working better in the 500X than the Jeep. Lane assist for one seemed to work more fluently, detecting even the worst painted line and making corrections where needed. Though it is not to be used as an autonomous system, it managed an S bend l use with frightening ease.
The 9 speed automatic gearbox was faultless with its silky smooth changes. The torque curve of the engine often making the car change 2 gears at a time which caused no noticeable problems. To be honest there were times when l had no idea what gear it was in and never felt the need to shift manually.
However this all changed when you selected ‘Sport’ mode. l like most sport modes. They alter the throttle responses and stiffen the steering but on the 500X it was best to keep it in normal for town and traffic. Quick blasts out-of-town also saw it seldom used. All that low down torque of 258 lb/ft at 1750 rpm means it’s ready to go flat-out in the right gear with no fuss. Sport holds on to the gears for too long making the engine work harder than it should and for no gain in forward momentum.
Normal mode was just perfect for every situation l found. What was nice though was the ‘off-road’ option. Despite not taking it truly off-road we did manage to find a quagmire of a pit. We pointed the 500X at it and let it do the magic. At one point l did think we had got stuck. Then out of nowhere you felt the little car clawed its way to freedom. In the end we decided to try it several times. The event needed The Great Escape soundtrack.
At the end of the day you buy a car like this to do a job. It’s not the kind of car you wake up one morning and think “I must buy a 500X because I want one” and this quandary had me puzzled for l spent many hours thinking what it was. It’s a 500. They look cute and this one manages to hold aces over the little 500 with all that extra room for 5 and the added ability to go where you like. And with that in mind you can’t really wish for more.
If you were to buy one, spec it up appropriately to suit your needs. For the price of the 500X l had it had all l would have wanted for a tad more than l would have wanted to pay. There are 17 combinations available at present for the 500X and with prices from £15,000 to £24,000 so there is a 500X out there to meet your needs as well as mine whatever those needs might be.
On/off road ability
Car – Fiat 500X 2.0 Multijet 2 Automatic Cross Plus
Price – £25,935 (as tested)
MPG – 51.4 mpg (combined)
Power – 140 bhp
0-62mph – 9.8 seconds
Top Speed – 118 mph
Co2 – 144 (g/km)
Find out more at http://fiat.co.uk