£14,745 - £26,465 Price range
42 - 68 MPG
The Fiat 500 supermini is one of the company’s best ever selling models so it makes sense for the brand to capitalise on it. Since superminis are often too small for family car duties, buyers after a dose of style with enough space for the kids can now buy the 500X – a family SUV with styling inspired by the popular Italian runaround. It competes in a very tough category against the likes of the Nissan Juke, Renault Captur and Jeep Renegade.
Fiat has already had a crack at producing 500-like success in a larger package with the 500L but the large, round headlights and bulging bodywork make that car look a little awkward. While it’s subjective, we reckon the 500X is a much more successful interpretation of the family look, managing to appear both cute thanks to its eye-like headlights and chunky thanks to its raised ride height and slightly flared wheel arches.
Interior quality is, like the smaller 500, significantly improved compared to Fiats of old. An expanse of body-coloured glossy plastic runs the length of the dashboard with a clear touchscreen nestled in the middle. Cheaper plastics feature lower down in the cabin but, for the most part, everything fits together without squeaks or rattles. The steering wheel is arguably the most crucial ‘touch point’ in the cabin and, in the 500X’s case, feels chunky and high quality.
The 500X is a world away from roly-poly Fiats of old on the road. It strikes an excellent balance between comfort and control meaning it resists body roll very well for a crossover but doesn’t let hard bumps enter the cabin. Steering accuracy is high so you don’t have to saw at the wheel on the motorway to keep the car pointed straight and, while at speed, only tyre roar makes much of an impact on the otherwise respectable refinement.
It’s offered with the usual range of Fiat-Chrysler engines including 1.6-litre non-turbo and 1.4-litre turbo petrol units – the latter of which is the pick of the range. Diesel buyers are offered either 1.6 or 2.0-litre units – both of which are perfectly acceptable if not outstanding. Gearbox choices include either a manual, twin-clutch automatic or a new nine-speed automatic on four-wheel drive models.
The 500X comes in two distinct flavours – either ‘City look’ or ‘Off-road look’. The former is offered in more efficient two-wheel drive guise only with the least consuming engines. Off-road look adds chunkier bumpers, some underbody cladding, roof rails and the more powerful engines along with the option of four-wheel drive. See the paint choices available in our Fiat 500X colours guide and check if it’s the right size for you with our Fiat 500X dimensions guide.
The style-conscious buyers Fiat is aiming the 500X at won’t be placated only by an attractive exterior – they’ll be looking for a well-built cabin, too. Thankfully, the 500X doesn’t disappoint in this area with an attractive interior that feels significantly better built than older Fiats. You’re greeted by an expanse of body-coloured plastic covering the dash which hides a second glove box above the normal one. All models from Popstar trim upwards feature a five-inch touchscreen for the infotainment system with sat-nav as an optional extra.
Fit and finish is up there with the best competitors and crucial areas including the steering wheel and seats feel upmarket. It’s not perfect, however – the instrument dials look pretty but it can be hard to see how fast you’re going. The analogue speedometer is small and hard to read while the large central digital dial can display speed but doesn’t do it by default – making it hard to read at a glance. Equally, if you run your hand down lower parts of the cabin, you’ll feel some hard, scratchy plastics.
The infotainment system itself has plenty of functionality including Bluetooth connectivity, optional sat-nav and DAB radio. It’s not as intuitive as Audi’s MMI or BMW’s iDrive system, however, with a little too much information competing for what is only a moderately sized screen. We’d prefer to see a proper rotary controller instead of the touchscreen interface which can be hard to use without taking your eyes off the road. Life is made a little easier by voice commands but the system generally lags behind the best from Germany.
Fiat 500X passenger space
The 500X’s cabin is roughly on par with family hatchbacks – only those much taller than six-feet will struggle in the back. Rear legroom is where the 500X is most limited – with tall front passengers, rear occupants might find their knees brushing the seat back. Front space is plentiful and there a plenty of cubbies (including two gloveboxes) to store various paraphernalia.
Parents with young children will find loading them into their car seats easier than a comparable hatchback thanks to the raised ride height – you needn’t stoop to secure belts because the seat base is in line with your hips. Equally, those with more limited movement will find entry easier because they won’t have to lower themselves into the car.
Fiat 500X boot space
Owners get 350 litres of boot space which is average for the class. There’s no load lip to speak of so loading heavy objects into the boot is fairly easy. Disappointingly, however, there are no useful luggage clips or nets to help secure smaller, more awkward loads. The rear seats fold leaving no lip so putting longer items in is fairly hassle free.
This is one of the 500X’s stronger areas. It strikes a great balance between an absorbent, comfy ride while also resisting body roll and feeling nicely controlled at high speeds – not something all its rivals manage.
The steering is precise and intuitive – it responds consistently and exactly as much as you expect and, with a relatively quick ratio, you don’t find yourself twirling the wheel excessively when parallel parking. Nor do you find yourself making constant corrections to the wheel on the motorway meaning your arms don’t get tired on long trips. Around corners, the car remains admirably stable and composed – it leans a fraction when you turn in but, once settled, there’s plenty of grip and bumps don’t upset its line.
In addition to feeling stable on the move, it’s also very compliant. Rough road surfaces are insulated from the cabin and only the biggest of bumps make their way up through the seat base. It’s not quite as comfortable as the Nissan Qashqai, nor as sporty as the Nissan Juke but strikes a balance between both those models.
In general, the petrol engines suit the 500X best. Its diesel units are a bit gruff and noisy, especially under hard acceleration and the extra efficiency they allow isn’t worth the increased purchase price unless you’re covering very high mileages. The petrol engines – in particular the 1.4-litre turbo – are smooth and powerful across the rev range and, when cruising, settle down into the background.
The six-speed manual is smooth and precise so, unless you need an automatic, is the gearbox of choice. The 140hp 1.4-litre petrol is offered with a six-speed twin-clutch automatic but the more powerful 170hp version and 2.0-litre diesel are offered with a new nine-speed automatic. This unit is smooth, changes gears intelligently and, thanks to its abundant ratios isn’t much less efficient than its manual counterpart.
Popstar trim and upwards get a driving mood selector offering all-weather, comfort and sport modes. We’d recommend leaving it in comfort for the most part – the steering remains light and the throttle response is more natural. Sport mode massively increases the response to prods of the accelerator making it hard to modulate your speed and causing you to leap away from the lights in uncontrolled bursts. Sport mode does put a turbo boost gauge in your instrument cluster, however, which your inner four-year-old will appreciate.
Fiat 500X petrol engines
Unless you’re covering very high mileages, the petrol engines suit the 500X better. In particular, the 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder with either 140 or 170hp offers a great balance of performance and efficiency. It hits 62mph from rest in 9.8 seconds (8.6 seconds for the 170hp version) and can average 47.1mpg (42.2mpg for the 170). The entry-level non-turbo 1.6-litre unit feels wheezy in comparison and is best avoided.
Fiat 500X diesel engines
If you spend most of your time on the motorway and cover very high mileages, you might want to look at the diesel options. The entry-level 1.3-litre version is very slow – taking 12.9 seconds to cover 0-62mph – and sounds very gruff when revved. The 1.6-litre with 120hp is much better and matches the 1.3’s 68.9mpg figure, making it the pick of the diesel range. A 140hp 2.0-litre is offered with four-wheel drive but the extra cost and 57.6mpg average efficiency doesn’t really seem worth it.
In either state of tune, it makes a nice noise when you're working it hard (something that it seems to enjoy) but at idle or on gentle throttle openings everything quietens down to a barely audible hum.
The performance and the economy is blunted by the extra weight of the four-wheel drive system and the (rather agreeable) automatic gearbox, but the general consensus is that your money would be best spent elsewhere in the range.
Under the 2015 Euro NCAP testing rules – which were noticeably harsher than the 2014 tests – the 500X achieved a four-star safety rating. It scored a decent 86 and 85 per cent in adult and child safety respectively but only 64 per cent in safety assistance systems. The fact that autonomous braking and lane departure warning were only available as options hurt the Fiat’s overall score.
The 500X is packed with the latest safety tech. In addition to the usual six airbags and electronic stability control, optional adaptive cruise control and blind-spot warning devices are also available. As mentioned, autonomous emergency braking can be specified so might be worth it for added peace of mind.
The 500X comes in five different trim levels – three for the City look and two for the Off-road look. Four-wheel drive is only offered on the Off-road look versions with either the 170hp 1.4-litre petrol or the 2.0-litre diesel.
500X City look Pop
Pop is the entry-level trim for the 500X and gets only basic kit levels. Air conditioning, USB and AUX input, all-round electric windows and cruise control make up the Pop’s main equipment selection. This is fairly spartan in comparison to the rest of the range so is best avoided.
500X City look Popstar
Popstar is a big improvement over Pop. It adds alloy wheels, an infotainment system with Bluetooth, rear parking sensors, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, climate control with refrigerated glovebox and driving modes to the party. If you add the optional sat nav and DAB radio, this could be all the options you realistically need.
500X City look Lounge
Lounge is the top-of-the-range trim for City look models. Extras include larger alloy wheels, tinted rear windows, xenon headlights, half-leather seats, sat nav as standard and keyless entry and ignition.
500X Off-road look Cross
Cross is the entry-level Off-road look model but, unlike City look Pop, isn’t spartan. You get alloy wheels, roof rails, chunky bumpers, cruise control, rear parking sensors, half-leather seats, climate control, an infotainment system, start/stop and driving modes.
500X Off-road look Cross Plus
Cross Plus simply adds a handful of extras to the already well equipped Cross. Larger alloy wheels, keyless entry and ignition, xenon headlights and sat nav are all fitted as standard. While a fully-loaded 500X might seem tempting, we’d suggest picking only the options you need rather than blowing all out on this top-spec model.
The Fiat 500X is an admirable effort from the company and worth considering if you’re in the market for a small family car with a healthy dose of style. It’s not quite as practical or user friendly as the Renault Captur, nor is it as sporty as the Mazda CX-3 or Nissan Juke but it strikes a great balance between these characteristics.
It feels planted on the road, well built inside and looks attractive and eye-catching outside. If you need five-door practicality but love the style offered by the Fiat 500, the 500X is a great way to have your cake and eat it. Rivals might best it in certain areas but the sum of the Fiat 500X’s parts adds up to a fun-to-drive, stylish and reasonably practical package.