The Fiat 500X has chic styling and a choice of cheap-to-run and willing petrol engines, but alternatives feel more solidly put together, have more space and better infotainment systems
The Fiat 500X isn’t a bad choice if you’re looking for a small, stylish SUV and find yourself put off by the bland looks of the SEAT Arona or the stodgy drive offered by the Citroen C3 Aircross.
The 500X was launched in 2014 and – to help it keep pace with the SEAT and Citroen – got a facelift in 2018. Changes included an updated interior, a new infotainment system, extra safety kit and a couple of new petrol engines. The diesels from the old model have been dropped.
In terms of exterior styling, only the lights have changed – you now get new daytime running lights and rear LEDs – so you’ll struggle to tell the difference between the old car and this 2018 model. You can also choose from two exterior (rather optimistically coined) ‘body styles’ – Urban Look, which has conventional body coloured bumpers or Cross Look which has chunkier bumpers with mock skid plates.
The interior gets the same retro look as the outside, the large swathe of body-coloured plastic that runs across the dashboard gives the 500X a playful feel that’s missing from the dingy SEAT Arona. But, while the 2018 500X gets a new instrument binnacle and a new steering wheel, its interior plastics look cheap in places, particularly in the back, and its switches and buttons are a little flimsy.
The 500X looks like a cutesy Fiat 500 that's been blown up like a balloon and given a pair of extra doors
The infotainment system has also been updated but doesn’t have the clear graphics or ease of use you get in the SEAT’s system. You do, however, get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard in the Fiat, so it is easy to use your smartphone’s apps on the car’s 7.0-inch screen.
Up front, there’s plenty of space to get comfy even if you’re tall and someone of a similar size should be able to squeeze behind you, too. The Fiat has a slightly smaller boot than its aforementioned alternatives, but it is easy to load and has space for a couple of large suitcases.
Filled to the brim with people and stuff, the 500X’s otherwise nippy 120hp petrol engine isn’t going to feel quick, but it’s still the engine to go for because the quicker 150hp 1.3-litre model’s standard automatic gearbox is frustratingly slow to change which blunts acceleration.
It’s a shame the more powerful engine is spoiled because there’s not much wrong with the way the 500X drives.
In town, you can zip in and out of gaps in traffic, while at faster speeds there’s not too much body lean to worry about and the Fiat’s weighty steering makes it easy to place in bends.
On the motorway, the suspension smooths out bumps better than it does at slower speeds, although the cabin does suffer from a fair amount of wind noise.
So the Fiat 500X is a classic jack of all trades and a master of none, but its retro looks might just be enough to swing it into your favour despite its average performance in other areas. For more about the 500X, check out our interior, driving and specification sections and don’t forget to check out the best Fiat 500X deals.