The Fiat 500X is the latest member of the fast-growing Fiat 500 family and is one of the more style-focused compact crossover in the segment.
Infused with the cutesy looks of its smaller hatch sibling that almost single-handed revived the Fiat brand in Australia, the high-riding 500X aims to bring some style and practicality into a segment dominated by mostly unimaginative offerings.
Available in four well-equipped models, the range kicks off with the $28,000 (plus on-road costs) Pop, before moving up to the Pop Star, Lounge and the range-topping Cross Plus you see here.
All models are powered by Fiat’s likeable 1.4-litre multiAir turbocharged four-cylinder engine in two states of tune – 103kW/230Nm in the front-wheel drive Pop and Pop Star, and 125kW/250Nm in the all-wheel drive Lounge and Cross Plus.
While the retro styling touches might be all Fiat, the 500X is essentially a twin of the more off-road focused Jeep Renegade under the skin. Both cars are built alongside one another at Fiat’s Melfi plant in Italy.
Design and Comfort
The Pop, Pop Star and Lounge all sport the chic, smoother-suited DNA of the Fiat 500, while the more rugged Cross Plus tested here features a unique front and rear fascia with visible underbody protection, roof rails and robust wheel arches for a more aggressive look.
Design elements like the double headlamps, trapezoidal nose, signature “whiskers and logo” face and rounded clamshell bonnet all pay homage to the original Cinquecento and Fiat 500 hatch.
Inside, as befitting the car’s style-led brief, the cheery retro theme interior is available with a variety of colours and fabrics, including the soft leather seats with white piping of our Cross Plus test car.
Its dashboard has a more three-dimensional feel compared to the 500, with a protruding infotainment screen and three-pod instrument cluster, while the meaty steering wheel almost feels like an over-compensation of its softer outlook.
The 500X is a much larger car than it appears, measuring 4.25m long, 1.8m wide and 1.61m in height; making it not only longer, wider and taller than its main rival, the MINI Countryman, but also wider and taller than the Mazda CX-3 and Honda HR-V.
There are plenty of practical storage compartments in the cabin, including two glove boxes in the dash and a 350-litre cargo space at the back, which expands to 1,000 litres with the 60/40 split rear seats folded down.
The boot floor can be set at two levels, too – one which is level with the boot lip for easy loading and a flat boot floor when the rear seats are folded, while the other drops the floor lower down to maximise space.
Performance and Handling
The Fiat 500X is powered by a 1.4-litre MultiAir2 turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine with two different outputs.
Entry-level Pop and Pop Star get 103kW at 5,000rpm and 230Nm at 1,750 rpm, and is paired with either a 6-speed manual (Pop only) or dual dry clutch DDCT transmission sending power to the front wheels.
It produces 125kW at 5,500rpm and 250Nm at 2,500rpm in the all-wheel drive Lounge and Cross Plus variants and is married to a ZF 9-speed automatic shared with the Jeep Renegade.
While the engine is generally quiet and has decent muscle to move things along, its 9-speed automatic is jerky and painfully unrefined (like the Jeep). You can feel each gear slotting into place reluctantly as if it has run out of transmission oil. This is especially evident when the engine is cold and at low speeds. There is also excessive torque braking when downshifting from higher gears.
It is a pity because the higher output Fiat engine is likeable and relatively sporty
Throw the 500X into corners and its handling is surprisingly sharp, although it doesn’t feel as planted as some of its rivals such as the Hyundai Tucson. There’s good grip from the 225/45 tyres but its steering feels numb. However, it gets better with more lock.
Around town, the ride is on the firm side on our 18-inch wheels equipped Cross Plus, especially over pockmarked roads, although it becomes smoother at higher speeds.
All models, bar the entry-level Pop, offer a “Mood Selector” with three moods: Auto for everyday driving, Sport for a move lively drivetrain and All Weather for low grip conditions. Each mood calibrates the engine, steering and transmission suited to the driving style of that mood.
The Fiat 500X appears well built with consistent panel alignment. There was no annoying squeaks or rattles in our test car, either. Most switchgear also feels robust.
On test, the Cross Plus returned a combined average of 11.1L/100km, way off the rated average of 6.7L/100km.
Admittedly, most test kilometres were done in stop-start traffic with a couple of freeway trips thrown in. Still, we expect a small turbo engine to fair better.
Equipment and Features
Like most modern cars, the Fiat 500X is relatively well equipped. Standard features include a 3.5-inch TFT instrument cluster display, air-conditioning, 60/40 split folding rear seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel with shift paddles (auto only), cruise control and reverse camera. The entry-level Pop runs on 16-inch alloy wheels with dark chrome effect and comes with a Uconnect 5.0-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth.
Stepping up to the Pop Star brings 17-inch alloys with matte silver painted finish, automatic headlights and wipers, Blind Spot Monitoring with rear cross path detection, Fiat’s Mood Selector, Keyless entry and a 6.5-inch Uconnect touchscreen with Bluetooth and Navigation.
Jumping into the Lounge buys a 18-inch alloys with Glossy Silver painted finish, 3.5-inch colour TFT instrument cluster display, auto high-beam, BeatsAudio Premium Sound System with subwoofer and 8 speakers, privacy glass, dual-zone climate control, interior ambient lighting, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning and two-toned leather interior.
Our Cross Plus additionally comes with 18-inch machined alloys with matte chrome shadow finish, roof racks, satin chrome exterior details and Xenon projector headlights.
Practical features such as ISOFIX points for child seats in the rear bench are standard.
Design and Comfort: 8/10
Performance and Handling: 6.5/10
Equipment and Features: 8.5/10
The cheery Fiat 500X brings the retro and cutesy styling of the 500 into the flavour-of-the-moment crossover SUV body-shell.
It is well equipped, practical and handles relatively well.
We would steer clear of the 9-speed automatic due to its lack of refinement.
- Cute styling and practical interior
- Sporty 1.4-litre engine
- Keen handling
- Jerky 9-speed automatic
2016 Fiat 500X pricing and specification
|Price (excluding on-road costs):
500X Pop: $26,000
500X Pop Star: $32,000
Cross Plus: $38,000
Cross Plus as tested: $38,000
|3 years/150,000 kilometres
|Warranty Customer Assistance:
|3 year roadside
|Country of Origin:
1.4-litre MultiAir2 turbocharged in-line four-cylinder petrol:
103kW @ 5,000rpm, 230Nm @ 1,750rpm
1.4-litre MultiAir2 turbocharged in-line four-cylinder petrol:
125kW @ 5,500rpm, 250Nm @ 2,500rpm
|6-speed manual/6-speed DDCT/9-speed automatic
|Pop/Pop Star: Front-wheel drive
Lounge/Cross Plus: All-wheel drive
|Combined Fuel Consumption (L/100km):
|Pop – Claimed: 6.0 (Man), 5.7 (DDCT) / Not tested
Pop Star – Claimed: 5.7 / Not tested
Lounge – Claimed: 6.7 / Not tested
Cross Plus – Claimed: 6.7 / Tested: 11.1
|Fuel Capacity (L):
|5-door SUV, 5 seats
|5-star ANCAP, 7 airbags, Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Traction Control, ABS, EBD, Roll Stability Control, daytime running lights, tyre pressure monitoring, reverse camera, space saver spare
Blind Spot Monitoring and rear cross path detection (except Pop)
Forward Collision Warning and Lane Departure Warning (Lounge and Cross Plus only)
|Dimensions (L/W/H/W-B) mm:
|Pop & Pop Star:
|Kerb Weight (kg):
|1,295 – 1,405
|Ground Clearance (mm):
|Pop/Pop Star/Lounge: 163
Cross Plus: 176
|Towing Capacity (kg):
|Braked: 1,200 / Unbraked: 600
Uconnect 5.0 AM/FM radio with 5.0-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth and USB, iPod connectivity
Pop Star/Lounge/Cross Plus:
Uconnect 6.5N AM/FM radio with 6.5-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth and USB, iPod connectivity and Satellite Navigation
Competitors: Citroen C4 Cactus, Ford Kuga, Holden Trax, Honda HR-V, Hyundai Tucson, Jeep Renegade, Kia Sportage, Mazda CX-3, MINI Clubman, Mitsubishi ASX, Nissan Juke, Peugeot 2008, Renault Captur, Subaru XV, Suzuki Vitara