Fiat 500X

Fiat First

"Here comes the 500X, with Mini in its sights" said Philip

"500X is actually built on a Jeep Renegade platform"

"Range available in the Middle East: 1.4L Turbo 6 speed AT and 2.4L nine speed auto, FWD and AWD variants"

"Set to take on the MINI Countryman at its own game"

Memo Mini: Fiat is on your tail. Fiat doesn't tend to do big - that's for other brands in the stable. The Italian automaker makes awesome small cars with the retro Fiat 500 with its 1.5 million sales after seven years on the road a case in point.

However, profit margins aren't too flash for 500s so Fiat has clearly pulled the right rein by going bigger with the 500X, a neat and tidy SUV, which still swings on the coat-tails of the runaway successful 500 and is aimed at coaxing us out of our sedans.

The world has a love affair with the compact crossover scene and Fiat is stealing plenty of limelight with the all new 500X.

Bigger in every dimension than the 500, the 500X is actually built on a Jeep Renegade platform rather than the 500.

The 500X is offered with a choice of ‘urban' (Pop, Pop Star and Lounge trim levels) and ‘off-road' (Cross, Cross Plus) bumper packages, depending on trim level. Urban and Cross will be doing the rounds of Gulf car parks. 

The range available in the Middle East is to be 1.4L Turbo six speed AT and 2.4L nine speed auto, FWD and AWD variants.  They look to be the best of the bunch. 

The 500X will major in personalization which is Fiat all over. It offers 12 different body colors, eight wheel designs and seven interior colors. Oh year, then there's the official aftermarket options.
Designed at Fiat's Centro Stile centre in Turin, the 500X is described by the automaker as representing "a new dimension of the unmistakable 500, where its iconic style and the modern concept of the crossover collide."

A descendent of the 1957 Fiat 500 - the stylistic reference of the rounded lights and the classic logo with the chrome-plated moustache on the front end is clear - the new crossover extends the 500 family, comprising the 500, 500C, 500L, 500L Trekking and 500L Living models. Diverse they may be they all share the same roots - the Fiat 500.

The automaker also hastens to add that it has done enough to ensure "respectable off-road capability."

"It's good in off-road conditions but not extreme," Antonio Massacesi, EMEA region - Fiat Brand product marketing director 500 Family told ArabWheels.

The 500X crossover is the first Fiat car to offer nine speed automatic transmission. This transmission offers many advantages, including pickup capacity and smooth delivery of power. Electronically controlled, the new nine speed auto transmission features specific mapping, with the option to switch to manual-sequential mode.

The new Fiat 500X is available in both two wheel and four wheel drive configurations. One special feature of the new Fiat crossover's four wheel drive system is the use of a rear axle disconnection system. Indeed, with the exception of the Jeep Renegade, the 500X is the only vehicle in its segment to offer this. The new Fiat crossover also offers 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.

On the mountains above Turin, the vehicle feels agile and traction was a treat during a pea-soup fog and a series of downpours.

The 500X rode fine, filtering out the roads' imperfections although it wasn't exposed to anything too demanding. It won't be the most inspiring drive you ever take, but it's a sound performer for sure and cornering was first-class.

As well as offering all wheel drive, the Traction Plus, which we're going to get in our part of the world, mimics a limited-slip differential in the front wheel drive models to help get you out of dodgy situations.

There's plenty to like inside the 500X. The upholstery and stitching are nothing less than you'd expect from a vehicle put together in Italy. It's not stretching it to say that Fiat has never made a better cabin. It's uncluttered and, again, dripping in Italian style.

Refinement is definite trump card of the 500X. The door mirrors are huge but the 500X does a good job keeping them quiet.

The 500X is also available with a new 5.0 inch or 6.5 inch sat-nav that can harness the power of your smartphone, with the usual web radio and social media updates that entails. Some of its competitors have it too but that doesn't mean it isn't a welcome offering. 

Practicality also hasn't been overlooked. The boot is adequate (350 liters), and the rear seats fold and tumble while the front passenger seat folds flat.

There is the usual quota of six airbags and loads of other safety goodies, many that aren't often found in this class. They include autonomous braking, which works from 7-200km/h, monitoring the road ahead for obstacles, alerting you and even braking the vehicle to help reduce the severity of a stack.

You can even add a 560w beats by Dre audio system that boasts eight individual speakers and a boot mounted subwoofer. It's only rock ‘n' roll but we like it...

If all you're likely to take on is either the school run or a Spinneys car park, the front-wheel drive should be just fine. But if you want to rough it a bit before you plant the barbie on the dunes and get the steaks sizzling, you'll be comfy with Traction Plus' assistance.

Verdict
OK, this is the third distinct model in the 500 line, after 500C and 500L, and with its quality looks, practicality and quality, roomy cabin, it is set to take on the MINI Countryman at its own game. You can throw in its relo' the Jeep Renegade too.

The 500X should be a serious contender if the sticker price is right. Hopefully, Fiat will rollout the 500X at the right dosh here in the Middle East and the Italian carmaker is nothing if not savvy. To be confirmed, but when the car hits the Middle East we're looking at a range or AED 85,000-120,000 so the drumbeats have it.

You do get more equipment and space for the money and more than 100 styling and accessory options. If you choose to shell out you'll get a stylish vehicle that's a more than adequate drive. Can't be bad.

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