- Driving safety systems as standard
- New engines on offer
- Quirky design features harking back to original Fiat 500
- No 1.0 engine in the UK in the Urban trim
- Visually not many changes for a ‘new’ car
Fiat cars have been in quite a few films over the years: Zoolander 2, Spectre, Dorian Gray and who can forget Luigi the Fiat 500 in the hugely successful franchise from Disney Pixar’s animation, Cars.
So with that association to the big screen Fiat have launched a new generation 500X tying it in with their Back to the Future movie adverts, but what would Marty McFly and Doc Brown make of it?
We got a feel for it on the launch in the birthplace of Italian cinema, Turin.
On The Road
Fiat have added their new Firefly engines to the 500X line up with two turbo petrol variants on offer; a 1.0 three cylinder with 120hp and 190Nm and a 1.3 four cylinder which delivers 150hp with 270Nm.
The 1.0 seemed a good engine for city driving but the six-speed manual ‘box struggled a bit on the hills above Turin when it needed knocking down a gear or two to pull it up the inclines.
The punchy 1.3 was better suited to the motorway part of our route and was paired with a six-speed DCT automatic box, which seemed smooth on the upshifts but not so at lower speeds when it seemed to be searching for the right gear.
What was noticeable about both engines was how quiet they were and how much better the fuel consumption figures are now with these newer petrol engines.
The only downside is the 1.0 isn’t available with Urban trim in the UK as it would be perfectly suited for those looking to use the 500X as a town car, the E-Torq 1.6 being the entry level engine for that trim.
What was suprising about the Fiat 500X is how well it rides, there were some not so great roads on the outskirts of Turin which we expected to throw the car off course a little but to be fair the suspension really soaked up the less than ideal road conditions and it remained composed.
What is good about the model is that it’s at ease nipping around the busy, back streets of Turin as it is on the longer stretches of motorway and with a choice of the Urban trim for the city commuter to the rugged Cross, for those looking to tackle all manner of roads there is appeal for everybody with the 500X.
Steering is fairly composed, it’s not going to set the world alight if you were going to push the car to its limits but it offers enough feedback for the sort of driving we did in the 500X.
A lot of the visuals of the Fiat 500X hark back to the classic Fiat 500; the cute ‘face’, the moustache on the front, even the ridges on the bonnet are all reminiscent of the original that first appeared in 1957. For 2018 you might have trouble seeing the differences to the outgoing generation but there are new LED daytime running lights, headlights and rear lights.
Trims have been reduced from five different ones to just Urban, City Cross and Cross. The City Cross adds a bold off-road look to the Urban, with the top-level Cross going even more rugged with roof bars, tinted rear windows and 18-inch alloy wheels.
In The Car
Behind the Wheel
Fiat have a new cabin in the 500X but it wasn’t something that was that obvious to be honest. There’s the familiar instrument panel with new graphics and a 3.5 inch TFT display which provides all the 21st century key information. There are three dashboard buttons like in the original 500 while there’s also three large, climate control scroll dials.
It comes with a 7-inch touchscreen which can be linked up to smartphones using Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard plus the necessary USB, AUX and Bluetooth connections.
Seats are comfortable but we found the driving position can make it a little hard to see out of the small rear window and the slanting rear side windows while the A pillars are a bit wide.
Space & Practicality
Boot space is 350 litres with the flat loading area able to hold a good few suitcases and bags, with 60/40 split rear seats this can increase to 1,000 litres and it’s this depth and practicality which makes it appealing to families who want to buy into the Fiat brand.
There’s a generous amount of leg and head room although long legged passengers might find the rear a bit too cramped if there’s also a tall passenger up front.
There are two large gloveboxes at the front for extra storage room, doors can fit in large bottles, while a Comfort Pack adds a front seat armrest with a storage compartment and Fiat’s Cargo Magic Space, which has a height adjustable load platform.
So what is the price of the 500’s larger sibling? It costs from £16,995 which is £5,000 more than the smaller 500 but it’s definitely a car that appeals if you’re a fan of the 500 but want the practicality of a five-door and extra room.
The outgoing generation has been a success for Fiat in Europe in the crossover segment since its launch in 2014, but how does it compare to its rivals?
The Kia Soul, Citroen C4 Cactus and Nissan Juke are amongst its main rivals in a very tough and competitive segment and although it will have its fans, will its future success be reliant upon the historical links back to the hugely popular Fiat 500?
Quality & Reliability
The quality of materials seem decent enough in the cabin from the leather trim on the doors, the chrome door handles, soft-touch materials to the black gloss plastics and the leather in the Cross version we tested gave it some added sophistication, and for families this would prove more practical if little dirty hands decided to decorate the car...
The outgoing generation’s reliability hasn’t faired so well with owners having to deal with electrical issues and poor economy, so Fiat will need to improve in this area on this new version as they’re seriously lagging behind against other manufacturers.
Safety & Security
So how does the Fiat 500X perform in terms of safety? In 2017 the smaller 500 only took three stars in the Euro NCAP ratings, as did the hatchback Tipo in 2016, while the first generation of this model scored four out of the five stars in 2015 with 86% for adult occupant protection and 85% for a child.
As yet this new generation hasn’t been tested but it does have driving assist systems as standard including speed advisor, lane assist and traffic sign recognition. Options include adaptive cruise control, city brake control which automatically brakes if there are obstacles in the path of the car, and blindspot alert.
It comes with six airbags, electronic stability control and the top trim Cross, adds a Parkview rear parking camera.