FIAT 500X: pumped up baby loses its chic

Fiat_500X_022IS the fact that Fiat are now building variants a sign that the 500 is pasta its best?

Definitely not. It’s just that in the same way that the Mini is now a maxi, Fiat are pandering to one of the very small niche markets that the industry has created over the years.

It’s typically Italian. The svelte, petite youngster that is the Fiat 500 has now grown – how shall we put this politely? – a bit larger round the rump to become a bigga Italian mamma in the shape of the 500X.

Fiat_500X_020And it’s not a particularly favourable evolution, because being bigger and taller means the ride quality isn’t as good as you might expect.

Its overfirm, making it feel a bit jiggly even on relatively smooth roads.

But there is a lot to like about its pumped up looks, and the interior space is obviously an improvement on the close confines of the little 500.

Let’s face it, any car that can comfortable accommodate the larger than life frame that is Peter Kay (yes, I know that was a 500L but there are similarities) has got to have a good amount of room inside.

Gone are the days of very little choice when you walked through the showroom doors with your wad of cash – today individuality is one of our prime buying perameters, as well as comfort, safety, economy and performance, and that’s pretty well what we get.

Fiat_500X_031As well as lots of buttons and controls, like the dial that sits in the 500X and is called the Drive Mood Selector. Mood is a good word here, because click into Sport and the mood definitely changes.
It all goes a bit edgy and shouty, like a Doberman straining on a leash. I don’t recommend it.

Fiat_500X_014It’s a bit like the first time you get on your child’s skateboard and you experience that ‘oooh, err’ moment. You don’t know if you really like it or not, as the ride feels a bit disconnected but you can get used to it. Whether you’ll persevere with it is another matter.

So, back into Comfort and let’s see what on offer. And the answer is a bit more of a controlled trip. The interior is tidy, with plenty room for passengers.

This variant had half-ecoleather upholstery and a techno-leather trimmed steering wheel. The central dial dead ahead contains fuel and temperature gauges as well as other essential information, with the speedo and rev counter flanking it right and left, and a centre of dash sat nav screen.

Under the bonnet here is a 1368cc 16 valve MultiAir petrol engine of 140hp output with a useable 230Nm of torque for forward impetus, which really shows up in Sport but is more user friendly in Comfort.

Fiat_500X_029Outside you get 17 inch alloys, off-road bumpers with a protective shield, a rear spoiler, tinted windows and dark grey roof rails to accentuate that more butch look over the basic chintzy 500.

It’s without doubt one of the most stylish little crossovers around, and more than just a jacked up supermini. But remember you’ll be hit with a high pricetag if you go for the top spec models.

FASTFACTS: Fiat 500X MultiAir; £18,595; 1368cc 16 valve , 140hp, 230Nm; six speed manual gearbox; Top speed 118mph, 0-62mph9.8secs; fuel – urban 36.2, extra urban 56.5, combined 47.1; CO2 139g/km; will it fit the garage? 4273/1795/1608 (l/w/h).