Fiat 500X road test
A Fiat 500 morphed bigger that looks good and drives nicely.
What is it?
A new variation on the Fiat 500 theme. The ‘crossover’ 500X joins the cute 500, open-top 500C, and roomy but bloated 500L, in a growing family of cars.
How safe is it?
Other Fiat 500 family members are Euro NCAP five-star rated, and when tested this one should be too. It is well endowed with crash-avoidance electronic safety aids.
Who should buy one?
Those who like the cheeky charm of the Fiat 500, but need something bigger, and who aren’t enamoured with the pudding-shaped 500L. This has roominess and good looks.
DRIVING AND PERFORMANCE
There is a chummy feel about the 500X. It is well-mannered and friendly to drive, with tidy handling and decent performance. It may not be the slickest or sportiest car of its type, but it is civilised with good safety credentials and makes practical family transport. Roadholding is good, it feels quite grippy on the bends, and there is really not much body roll. Although it is a relatively tall car, it feels quite reassuringly stiff and leans a little less on the corners than some of its lofty rivals. The handling characteristics are neutral and it is reasonably good fun to drive on a twisty country road.
Mostly the ride quality is pretty fair. The suspension feels nicely damped enough to mop up the typical bumps on most road surfaces. This is doubtless helped by having MacPherson strut back end suspension, which does a decent job of ironing out most of the surface undulations. It only starts to jostle you a bit when the road surface is unusually coarse or badly pock-marked. The steering is not as pert as some, but has reasonable feel and is weighted about right. Gearchange quality is quite smooth and slick too.
The choice of engines includes a 1.4 petrol and either 1.6 or 2.0-litre diesels. All do a very adequate job of hauling a car that weighs under one and a half tonnes. The likely best seller is the 1.6 MultiJet diesel, and it feels brisk with quite lively acceleration through the gears. The downside to that is some engine noise permeating the cabin when you drive in press-on mood, and there is a bit of road rumble and a little wind noise at motorway pace too. That is not to say that it is unduly noisy, and overall the driving experience is very agreeable, but it is not the quietest car of its type either.
SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
Calling this car a 500X is a bit deceptive. It makes you expect a cabin like that of the dinky Fiat 500, plus a bit extra. It feels much roomier than that, with no shortage of space inside. The car is 4.2 metres long, and it has comfortable room for five people. There is good access to the interior via tallish doors, generous headroom all round and ample rear knee-room.
The seating is set higher than a typical hatchback, although not quite as elevated as some rival ‘crossover’ cars. Front seat comfort is pretty good, well cushioned and with adequate lateral support. It’s reasonable in the back seats too, although a bit less pliant in the cushioning.
The boot is 350 litres, and can be extended to a total of 1,000 litres of carrying capacity with the rear seats folded down and the car in temporary use as a two-seater. It’s handy that the rear-seat backs fold away completely flat, but that probably explains the sparser upholstering.
Six airbags and several electronic safety aids are standard on the 500X. These include stability control, Dynamic Steering Torque to keep the car in check on tight bends, traction control, hill start assist and a collision anti-roll system. Options include adaptive cruise control, blind spot assistance and emergency braking assistance. The 500X has yet to be crash tested by Euro NCAP, but is expected to achieve five stars, as already awarded to the Fiat 500 and 500L.
The 500X comes quite well equipped. Even the lowest-spec Pop version has remote central locking, all round electric windows, a height adjustable driver’s seat, air conditioning, and cruise control with a speed limiter. Going up to the next level, Pop Star trim includes automatic climate control, cornering front foglamps, rear parking sensors, and a five-inch screen infotainment centre with Bluetooth connectivity. The range-topping 500X Cross Plus has four-wheel-drive and internal niceties such as ambient lighting.
Prices for the 500X start at £14,595 for a 1.6 litre petrol with manual gearbox and basic Pop trim. The top-notch Cross Plus model is a 2.0-litre diesel with four-wheel drive and auto transmission at £25,845. Fuel consumption across the range varies from 47.1 to 68.9mpg on the combined cycle, and CO2 output is from 109 to 147g/km. Service intervals are yearly or 9,000 miles for petrol models, 12,000 miles for diesels. Fiat’s standard warranty is three years with unlimited mileage.
This best-yet Corsa is a chummy drive and economical.
AT A GLANCE:
Price: £19,095 as tested
Performance: 0-60mph in 10.5 seconds
Economy: 68.9mpg combined
Insurance: Group TBA
Tax: Band B (£0 first year)
Figures for the 500X 1.6 MultiJet II Pop Star