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The Fiat 500X, a comfy crossover

29.04.2016

The Fiat 500X is Fiat's attempt to make it in the compact crossover segment, leveraging off the huge success of the Fiat 500 together with their new Chrysler alliance.

Underneath the 500X is a Jeep Renegade with less off-roady suspension. On top Fiat has stretched the 500 look and feel over a bigger footprint. Should be a good recipe, right?

On the outside

There's no denying that Fiat hit the nail on the head when they introduced the 500. That retro style modernised in a typically Italian fashion is simply genius. But take a look at the Fiat 500L and it's apparent that the cutesy body doesn't work for all shapes and sizes. Fortunately the 500X does wear it quite well.

On the inside

Unfortunately there always tends to be something that lets an Italian car down (aside from the chaps that build supercars out of Italy that is). This for the 500X is it's interior. Not to say it doesn't look nice, because it does rather. The quality of the materials  don't quite stack up to the competition. The switches, dials and stalks feel flimsy while the dash over on the passenger side feels like recycled yogurt tubs.

The relatively sloping roof line and chunky back section means that rearward visibility isn't great, nor is rear leg or head room. The boot is decent enough, though.

Behind the wheel

There are two engine options for the 500X, a 1.6-litre and 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol in either automatic or manual (5-speed in the 1.6 and 6-speed for the 1.4). I had the pleasure of the more powerful turbocharged unit that comes in various other Fiat group vehicles, like the Alfa Mito for example. It's a nice unit, but needs to be worked if you're in a hurry.

Good thing is the 500X feels nice and light on its feet. Stick with the smaller wheels that come with slightly more profile on tyres and it's comfy too.

Pricing

The Cross X model I had, that comes with all the bells and whistles, is near R390,000. That's about the same price as the near-equivalent Nissan Qashqai. Also around the price of a Mini Countryman - which has great styling benefits but far less on the feature front as standard.

Verdict

The Fiat 500X is not the most utilitarian choice in this segment, but it is exactly what buyers want from a Fiat crossover. There's loads of style and you won't see too many others on the road - not by Qashqai standards anyway. If you can live with the interior and slightly less space than there probably should be, you'll have a car that most definitely stands out in the crowd.

Vehicle specs

Price: R384,990

Engine: 1.4-litre four cylinder turbocharged petrol

Power: 103kW

Torque: 230Nm

Consumption: 6.0l/100km (claimed)

Service: Three-year//100,000km maintenance plan

Article written by Miles Downard
29.04.2016
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