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Fiat 500X – The right kind of X

24.11.2014

THE diminutive Fiat 500, which proved so popular for the Italian brand has been given a thorough workout at the gym as the newest addition to the 500 family has been revealed, internationally, in Balocco, Italy.

The model represents a new dimension for the modern crossover concept. Called the Fiat 500X - the iconic style of traditionalism - collides with off-road capabilities in an effort to bolster the brand’s offering.

Fashionista

Driving the fourth derivative of the 500, the 500X doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s built to be fun and offers everyday usability wrapped in a casual but stylish piece of clothing.

The traditional 500 design traits are immediately evident in its face, which proudly boasts the Italian moustache and smile. That said, the car does wear its new buff look well with a solid stance in its 4.25-metre long and 1.8-metre wide physique. Meaning, it hasn’t completely lost its small city car appeal.

Standing around 1.60 metres tall, this Italian’s well defined compact dimensions have been cleverly worked to offer occupants comfort, space and modern equipment, with a sense of premium fit and finish through the cabin.

Settling in behind the left-hand drive version, the ergonomic set-up gives an indication of what our market can expect when the vehicle arrives locally, in the middle of next year.

Get In and Go

The driving position is driver-focused and the controls are grouped by function with wraparound seats offering more legroom than expected. Designed with functionality in mind, the extensive storage compartments placed around the cabin are a plus for this car’s lifestyle.

The same versatility is offered by the rear seat with its 60:40 split, folding backrest and the spacious luggage compartment (the 350-litre capacity becomes 1 000 litres with the rear seats completely folded down).

Heading out onto the beautiful Italian roads with sun-kissed backdrops, the 500X started to show its mettle in the powertrain department.

Two engines that will become available in SA are: The silky smooth 103kW 1.4-litre Turbo MultiAir II petrol engine (certainly the pick of the bunch) and the 81kW 1.6-litre petrol engine.

The 1.4 will come in either a six-speed manual or the six-speed dual clutch auto box, while the 1.6 will be available exclusively as a manual.

Built for maximum efficiency and performance, the 1.4 Turbo MultiAir II (front-wheel-drive) was nippy and offered plenty of gusto to make the car fun-to-drive, while returning impressive fuel consumption figures.

The sportiness of the powertrain brings the 500X’s personality to life and it’s two-wheel- drive setup is perfectly suited for urban living, but it’s raised ride height does hint towards an explorer vibe that wants to escape the urban sprawl.

Available on the two-wheel configuration is the Mood Selector drive selection system with three modes: Auto, Sport and All Weather which, on the leisure versions, replaces the third option with Traction mode.

Flicking through these options alter the car’s personality for different driving terrains. Select Sport and the 500X taps into its inner sports car to give that added grunt with a sharper steering response.

Overall

The Fiat team are calling the Fiat 500X, “The best Fiat ever built,” and while it might be a brave statement to make, the car promises a lot.

The design team got it right in the looks department and the high level of tech features adds appeal. Throw into the mix good handling and sportiness and the 500X doesn’t only look good on paper but ticks all the right boxes, too.

Pricing will be crucial, and with initial reports being around R270 000 for the entry-level derivative, there’s no reason for the 500X to not follow in its smaller sibling’s footsteps and become a hit on our roads.

Further information with regards to exact local pricing, availability and model specification will be announced at a later stage.

Article written by Stuart Moir
24.11.2014
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