The best thing about the Fiat 500X crossover is that it has almost nothing in common with the current Fiats in the market. I acquired the 500X from Saad &Trad (official Fiat distributor in Lebanon) for a nice weekend drive. What was the outcome?
A couple of years ago I drove the extended version of the well-known 500, the 500L. The 500L looks a bit awkward, honestly speaking. It feels like it doesn't know if it "wanna be a van" or "wanna be a crossover". But in the case of the 500X, it is completely different. The 500X is considerably larger than the 500, and fits into the subcompact crossover category, which is perhaps the best vehicle market segment around the Levant area. It goes head-to-head with the Mazda CX-3, Nissan Juke, and the Mini Cooper Countryman. You should also know that when we drove the boxy Renegade a couple of months ago, we mentioned that the Renegade shares the same platform with the 500X; so it can be a competitor too, but Jeep's customers are usually wilder than Fiat ones.
While driving it on our Lebanese roads (bumpy and full of potholes), and even despite its raised ride height, the 2016 Fiat 500X is quite receptive in corners and I didn't feel much body roll or lean. When the road gets smooth and curvy, things get a lot more fun. In terms of the driver's seat, I found it to be very good. Outward vision through the huge windows is massive, and the big sunroof gave the cabin a predominantly sunny temperament. This is a well-packaged, well-thought-out, and extremely civilized car.
All in all, it is a vehicle you can live with. But as a product, what I can say about the 500X is that it is charming, enjoyable, and yes, extends Fiat's appeal to a new set of audiences. Is the charm accessible? Not totally, but the Fiat charisma definitely is. It's worth checking out if you're interested in a pint-sized SUV.
Rivals: Mazda CX-3, Mini Cooper Countryman, Nissan Juke, Kia Soul, Jeep Renegade
Pros: Well-made cabin with easy-to-use tech controls, good price, distinctive look, offers safety features not usually available in this class
Cons: Ride is too firm, confusing automatic gearbox, inadequate cargo space
one word: charming
2.4 L inline-4 cylinder, 180 hp @ 6,400 rpm, 237 Nm @ 3,900 rpm
9-speed automatic with manual shifting mode, FWD/AWD
0-100 km/h: 8.9 sec, top speed: 193 km/h, fuel consumption: 9.8 L/100 km
Weight: 1,525 kg