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Sunday / 23 June 2024
HomeFeaturesEntry-level Fiat 500X review – Surprisingly sporty

Entry-level Fiat 500X review – Surprisingly sporty

The recently-updated Fiat 500X is a surprisingly sporty crossover with lovable looks that grow on everyone who lays their eyes on it.

The company delivered the entry-level Cross variant to TopAuto’s doorstep last week, and while I was looking forward to getting some wind in my hair in the range-topping cabriolet version, which is technically the only convertible SUV in the country at the moment, I quickly realised the Cross can be equally as entertaining.

Surprisingly sporty

The 500X range is powered by a 1.4-litre, turbo-petrol engine capable of generating 103kW and 230Nm, matched with a six-speed automatic transmission that directs all the energy to the front axle.

Push past the initial turbo lag and the powerplant is eager to get going while the gearbox provides a noticeable nudge in the back on upshifts.

The driving position is also deep and quite far away from the sunken speedometer and rev counter, each in a dynamic design themselves, which provided the same sense of encapsulation as low-riding coupes and sedans I’ve driven before, only with better outward visibility.

This cockpit-like seating setup and peppy powertrain made for one unexpectedly athletic driving experience.

Unfortunately, taking advantage of it does hurt in the fuel consumption department as the X quickly shot up to 10.0l/100km while I was still getting used to its behaviour, but it simmered down to an average of 7.9l/100km during the final days of the test period.

Italian charm

The X isn’t as immediately-flattering as its hatchback counterpart, the 500, but it has its own charm that steadily grows on you the more time you spend with it.

The bulbous front end seems to form a face with two LED cheeks, while the hunched-forward stance from the rear lends an athletic appeal.

As the only Cross in the 500X range it gets more rugged-looking bumpers and model-specific 18-inch alloy wheels, as well as roof rails that play into the overall tougher aesthetic than what is provided by its Sport-badged siblings.

Moreover, this Fiat has the most liberal use of badging that I have ever seen in a car.

Starting outside, the X has a “500” logo on the nose, the front bumper, one in each headlight and taillight, one on each wheel, and on the tailgate; continuing inside, it saw identical markings on the radio, dashboard, gear lever, overhead console, and seats – resulting in a grand total of 19 “500” badges, assuming I didn’t miss any.

The larger dimensions of the X when compared to its hatchback counterpart results in a much more spacious front cabin and rear cargo area, but the rear seats are still slightly cramped.

Considering this Fiat’s price, the sound of the boot and doors upon closing isn’t exactly music to the ears, either, but the interior build quality is on par with the competition; and in areas such as the padded door panels and large seats wrapped in faux leather/camo fabric, a few notches above.

The equipment offerings are well-rounded, too, as it brings a 7-inch infotainment display with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, built-in navigation, a leather multifunction steering wheel, automatic LED headlights, rain-sensing wipers, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and start, and lane-keep assist.

One feature that I did find myself missing was parking sensors, but the Fiat does get a reversing camera to help you inch a bit closer to the wall when backing into a parking spot.

Verdict

The 500X appeals to a niche market of brand loyalists and quirky-car lovers who buy it because they really want it.

It’s the perfect upgrade for a 500 owner, or any other stylish hatch for that matter, whose needs have evolved, but who doesn’t want to buy one of the boring crossovers of which you see a thousand in a day.

The Fiat is on the pricier end of the crossover spectrum with this base model asking R509,900, but it ticks the boxes of being both out of the ordinary and also a pleasure to live with, and I don’t see it disappointing its intended audience.


Fiat 500X Cross


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