The 500X is a car designed, built and engineered in Italy and it shows, with quirky designs both inside and out and sophisticated styling that will appeal to a wide range of buyers.
I remember mentioning that the 500 city car’s design wasn’t conducive to expansion, which was affirmed when I saw the 500L. However, the 500X is a different story; it has all the panache you’d expect from an Italian crossover vehicle.
You get the traditional 500 design queues such as the rounded front lamps, chrome inserts on the bumper and the iconic 500 badging, while Fiat has added things like silver bash plates and more muscular shoulders and body panelling to make this car look - much as the advertisement in which it is featured suggests - like it took the little blue pill.
Much like the 500L, the 500X exhibits great build quality and several soft-touch surfaces. Several special design details, such as the unique door handles, Fiat-esque chunky steering-wheel and thesandpaper-like dashboard covering, give the interior something unique. You will recognise the instrument cluster, climate control and gear-lever from other Alfa-Romeo/Jeep products.
There is quite a bit of space inside with great headroom, legroom and comfortable seats, meaning one could travel five-up in relative comfort in the new model. The boot space isn’t massive at 245 litres however, it is acceptable.
You get the Uconnect infotainment system with Bluetooth/AUX/USB compatibility as standard, along with multi-function steering-wheel with cruise control. Initially, the models available locally will get the five-inch display while a bigger 6.5-inch system with navigation will be available when higher-specified models arrive.
At launch, we only had one engine with two transmission/drivetrain options. The familiar 103kW/230Nm 1.4-litre turbocharged MultiAir motor powering the front wheels, is mated to either a six-speed manual or a twin-clutch six-speed automatic.
The motor pulls well; I particularly enjoyed the combination of it with the automatic gearbox from a convenience perspective and it is much improved over previous efforts. There will be an entry level 1.6-litre naturally aspirated model with 81kW soon, however, I would wager that the MultiAir is still the engine to have.
Fiat has also lifted and renamed the DNA system from the Alfa-Romeo stable, which is a switch mounted into the centre console with three drive-mode settings. The Auto setting for general driving, which offers regular throttle response and steering while Sport sharpens up responses for added performance and All Weather is used when traction is at a premium. Higher-end models also come with a Traction mode, which helps in extra-slippery conditions.
Local availability and peace of mind
The 500X range will consist of the 1.4 Cross six-speed manual transmission and the 1.4 Cross six-speed DDCT automatic, which are now available.
In the coming months, we’ll see the 500X 1.4 Cross Plus, 1.6 Pop Star and Cross Plus DDCT models join the range
All 500X models come standard with a three-year/100 000km warranty and maintenance plan.