Fiat 500 4x4 X

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Apart from their Panda 4x4, Fiat isn’t the first name that springs to mind when it comes to buying AWD transportation. Similarly, whilst Fiat’s reintroduction of the 500 city car has taken the automotive world literally by storm, the uber trendy recreation has set Fiat off down a 500 path that seems to be gathering momentum. Not only do we now have the 500L which to my mind should have been the new 600, the 500X is the latest offering in the 500’s trio of retro style incarnations, this time a 500 shaped SUV.


As to whether you agree with yet another take on Dante Giacosa’s original 1957 design is actually immaterial. Where the 500X triumphs is in offering buyers the same inherent shape as the new 500 but with family practicality. And like its smaller sibling the 500X options ensure there’s a model, specification and engine that will tick all the appropriate boxes. Whether it’s the more conventional and more popular two-wheel drive versions with or without the trick front axle or the more adventurous AWD variants there are three levels being Pop, Popstar and Lounge with twelve exterior colours, eleven alloy wheel sizes and styles and eight different interiors.   


Ostensibly the same the main visual difference being the less aggressive frontal treatment of the 2WD models, the less obtrusive moustache and air dam actually making the front more pleasing than the Cross model, the lighting extended side profile and rear bustle all replicate the 500 outline. The only extras are the higher ride height and rear cargo deck lip and deep protective shields and over moulds that run from front to rear. Similarly the cabin, the less is more theory resulting in functionality combined with ersatz sixties design.


Trimmed in red and black leather the seats are firm but comfortable whilst the soft touch surfaces and brushed metal effect inserts work well in combining durability with retro styling. The instrumentation is clear and concise the main controls big and chunky. The upper of the two glove boxes features a cooling system whilst the central infotainment screen utilises Fiat’s Uconnect connectivity, TomTom satnav and additional car monitoring apps. With ample room for five with the rear seats upright there’s 245 litres of cargo space which more than four times the amount with the 60:40 split seats folded plus a further 1,200kg of towing capacity.  


Power wise Fiat has elected to offer two petrol and two diesels. For those who prefer to run on unleaded there’s the 110hp 1.6 E-Torq or the 1.4 MultiAirII that develops 140hp whilst for diesel lovers there’s the 120hp MultiJetII in 1.6 that’s likely to prove the most popular, these three power units mated to either 5 or 6-speed manual transmissions or as tested the 140hp 2.0 MultiJetII, the only option that includes the 9-speed automatic transmission. Similarly, it’s only the 2-litre Cross Plus that’s available with the automated 4x4 system, the rest just two-wheel drive. All four also feature Fiat’s Stop/Start system and are all built to Euro6 specifications.


Over a test distance of 618 miles the 500X returned an acceptable 43.2mpg with a best of 46.9mpg on an extended motorway run. With a fuel tank capacity of 48 litres this means most drivers should be able to cover at least 450 miles between refills, maybe more if the auto’s sequential shift is brought into play on a more frequent basis. Like most automatic boxes the 9-speed has a habit of holding onto 6th and 7th until higher speeds are reached but by manual shifting 8th and 9th can be selected earlier than the car itself determines.   


The 4x4 also features what’s referred to as the ‘Mood Settings’ which equate to ‘Auto’ which runs the engine at its most economical, ‘Sport’ that tweaks the engine, steering and general handling along with the appearance of the ‘Turbo’ gauge and lastly ‘Traction’. This allows the driver to preprogram the 500X for off-road use whilst flagging up the appropriate readouts. Displayed in the central readout it shows the drive distribution between the front and rear wheels, the surprising aspect being that apart from more demanding terrain even in locked 4x4 its still the front wheel that perform the bulk of the work.


In turn this would tend to indicate that for those looking for improved grip only occasionally could possibly be better served by the Cross variant Traction+ model, the front-wheel drive version with a diff lock front axle. But for an SUV that in the main will probably spend the bulk of its time tackling nothing more arduous than a gravel track or high kerb, this Fiat’s off road credentials are actually rather impressive. With approach, departure and ramp over angles of 21.30, 30.10 and 22.30, crossing inhospitable terrain is a far more practical pastime than initial appearances would suggest.


As a daily driver Fiat’s 500X is a solid feeling car with excellent visibility and of a size that makes the motor as equally at home in the city centre as it is around the B-roads. The heavier than usual power steering relays sufficient feedback to keep a track of what’s going on beneath the front wheels whilst the 11 meter turning circle maintains the car’s maneuverability in more confined situations. You will however have to make regular use of the reversing camera; the 500X high set rear profile meaning the furthest most extremity of the car can at times be hard to judge.


Utilising the exact same AWD system as it’s almost identical twin the new Jeep Renegade, with ‘Traction’ dialed in and the lower gears held via the sequential gearbox, the 500X is able to haul itself across a variety of off-road surfaces. Similarly, the traction control’s ability to keep wheel spin to a minimum allows the Fiat to climb and traverse gradients with efficiency and ease. Like all AWD’s of this ilk, common sense and planning the potential route means the 500X will cover far more demanding terrain considerably in excess of most owners needs. Similarly, given the looks of the 500X it also means those looking for a capable crossover with a style markedly different from the rest now have a distinctly different alternative from which to select.


Taking the term crossover to its current extreme, Fiat’s 500X Cross Plus wraps Italian style, retro influences and unexpected all-round ability in a modern, comprehensive package. In 2WD with the Traction+ the car will be more than able to fulfill most users needs whilst easy to moderate 4x4 work could well see this Fiat relegate more robust off-roaders down to occasional use. If the accessory laden 500X as tested has a negative it’s the £30,865 you’ll need to park on outside your front door. Go for the basic version and the car runs out at a slightly more attractive £26,315 with the basic 2WD costing a far more tempting £17,595.


Forming part of Fiat’s complete overhaul of its range, the 500X will attract both existing and new buyers into the Italian fold. In 4x4 guise the 500X is also more than likely to see those who previously would never have given the Fiat brand a second glance now start to take them far more seriously.



By; Mark Stone


Fiat 500 4x4 X