VOLUPTUOUS FIAT 500X STANDS APART. WE TEST IT

500X

Fiat’s Entry Crossover Old Hand 500X Has Some Surprising Plusses

An old hand in one of the busiest car segments out there, the Fiat 500X has been handed a new lease of life to take on the likes Toyota’s Urban Cruiser and its Suzuki clone, the Hyundai Venue, Kia Sonet and Ford EcoSport. The Fiat certainly stands out among them.

BUG EYED 500X NOTHING NEW

Nothing new, the bulbous bug eyed X remains the pumped up 5-door Fiat 500 it always was. It delivers a rounded peg amongst squared off rivals chasing that critical market hole. Even this base Cult model gets seemingly rugged back clad wheel arches and door sills, enough chrome trim and 500X badging, and a practical set of 16-inch alloys. 500X appears ready to eat up the dirt. Truth be told, it’s really more at home on the boulevard.

Prod the well concealed start-stop button and 500X comes to life, with as little ado as it will require throughout its driving routine. The black ball gear lever comes nicely to hand, clutch action is slick and 500X pulls away easily and shifts smoothly up through the cogs. Quiet on the move, the engine does however become a bit raspy when asked.

500X is now powered by a 103 kW 230 Nm 1.4 litre direct injection turbo petrol 4-pot mated to a 6-speed manual box turning the front wheels. It replaces the similarly capable but less frugal 1.6 atmo lump. Brisk enough around town, 500X managed 100 km/h in just over 10 seconds in our tests – almost what Fiat promises, along with a 190 km/h top speed.

RESPONSIVE, ECONOMICAL ENOUGH

But it’s responsive enough, drives wall and is above all else, simple to drive. Fiat claims 6-litres per 100 km, but we averaged closer to nine. The 48-litre fuel tank should stretch beyond 700 km between refuels on the open road.

There’s no problem at all with space inside 500X. Some years ago, we travelled around Italy in four of us in one of these. If anything impressed us about this car back then, it was its roominess, practicality and boot space. There’s much leg and shoulder space, and ample room for five adults. Plenty for four.

Best of all, that boot will swallow up a remarkable 245 litres of baggage. It’s deep, broad and tall enough to stack four sizeable personal bags in alongside each other. Packing is also very easy and boot space is of course expandable to 910 litres with the rear seats folded down.

500X CABIN IS A BIT AUSTERE

The cabin however feels a little austere. It should be, considering the 500X has been around for quite a while now. But it’s hard black plastic finishes and mundane Blue Monogram cloth trim and some basic finishes in some areas, takes away from the 500 spirit we have come to expect from its baby sibling. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It still does the job, and well too

4 star Euro NCAP safe, the 500X gets ABS anti-skid braking with assistance, TSC, hill start assist, tyre pressure monitoring, lane-keeping assist, auto wipers, auto headlights, park distance front and rear, a rear camera and six airbags. In short, it has everything you can wish for at its price break.

Different from its rice box rivals, the Fiat 500X sets itself apart in a Raquel Welch kind of a way. It may be a bit old school, but it’s still Italian, sexy and individual. 500X also packs an impressive standard specification that beats many rivals in the most surprising of ways.

So, don’t overlook the Italian one. It will probably surprise you too. – Michele Lupini

Tested: Giordano Lupini, Images: Marcella Lupini

ROAD TESTED: Fiat 500X Cult
Engine: 103 kW 230 Nm 1398cc I4 turbo
Drive: 6-speed Manual FWD
TESTED
0-60 km/h: 4.80 sec
0-100 km/h: 10.12 sec
0-120 km/h: 13.82 sec
0-400m: 17.2 sec @ 132 km/h
80-120km/h: 6.51 sec
CLAIMED:
VMax:             190 km/h
Fuel:             6 l/100km
CO2:              139 g/km
Warranty/Service: 5y 100K/3-y 60K km
PRICE:            R405K
RATED:            7
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