CAR REVIEW | FIAT 500x

What Have We Got

Fiat’s big 500 crossover SUV has been with us now for over 5 years. 2019 saw some changes to the line-up along with some updates. The 4WD model is no longer offered and power comes from a choice of 3 and 4 cylinder petrol engines.

THEGAYUK was given the 1-litre turbocharged 120hp Firefly engine in the Cross Look for a week. A more urban looking 500X with the chunky looking bits of an SUV.

Driving

The first thing to strike you about the new engine is its brio of power. On paper, it doesn’t appear spritely. In use, it really is. Keep it boiling at 3000rpm and you’ll find it useful. This way it is always ready for action the moment the pedal is pushed down. Anything less and it’s all a bit lethargic with a touch of lag.

What helps making it go forward is the slick gear change. The clutch and gear action is a joy to slot around when you want to get a move on. And this is good. Recently we had the platform sharing Jeep Renegade in with a diesel engine. That didn’t encourage any form of enthusiasm. The Fiat set up high lights the joys of the chassis.

What it can’t do however is mask the ride quality. In the city, it is simply too hard. And this translates into a choppy ride. You can’t have it all though. At speed, it becomes taught and agile. That said, however, at night on the motorway, you can see the headlight beams jiggling around.

Inside

For a relatively cheap SUV, prices from £18,500, it’s well put together. The front door cards are nicely contoured and there is storage for bottles and the like in both front and rear. The rears are a bit different in that they are made from hard sturdy plastic whereas the fronts have a soft touch feel to them as is the norm for this segment.

It took me some time to find a suitable driving position.  You certainly can’t say there isn’t enough adjustment for the seats and steering wheel. There is a position for all body shapes. What hampered this was the front seats lack of both under-thigh and bottom support. They were a little flat.

Living With It

There are a few things that catch you out about the 500X. Firstly is its size. It feels much bigger from behind the wheel. You do tend to be over-cautious when fighting for space in the urban jungle. In actuality, it isn’t as big as you think. 

This is also true of the boot. It’s not class leading and not totally useless but if you want your 500 to be a lot more useable than the 3 door city slicker from Fiat, this is for you.

The verdict

I wanted to like the 500X. There is much to enjoy about the new engine and the way it drives. It’s light and buzzy without feeling that you want more. Using the 6-speed manual gearbox is a joy and all the controls feel right. It is that ride that I find so disagreeable.

You won’t drive it on every occasion with the spirit in which it can carry you. It’s illegal to travel at 70mph around town. So the rides sportier set up is somewhat pointless in this car.

Speaking of 70mph, it would seem the traffic sign recognition sees everything as a 70mph challenge. 

There were too many times it would show the national speed limit on the dashboard for it to be a one off. Perhaps this Fiat could do with a little bit of Abarth magic. It certainly feels like it wants to.

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Love

Nippy 3 cylinder engine

500 Looks

Light controls

Loathe

Choppy Ride

Slow to respond infotainment system.

Seats

The Lowdown

Car –  Fiat 500x City Cross Firefly 

Price – £22,100 (as tested)

MPG – 48.7 mpg (combined)

Power – 120hp @ 5750rpm

0-62mph –   10.9 seconds

Top Speed –  117 mph

Co2 – 133 (g/km)

(C) ALL PICTURES: Stuart Bird

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