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Fiat 500X Cross Plus 1.0T 120 6-speed manual

Date: 09 October 2018   |   Author: Pete Tullin

Retro Italian design flair meets contemporary SUV. With prices starting at less than £17,000, what's not to like about Fiat's revamped 500X?
Standard equipment:
16in alloy wheels, 7in Uconnect with Apple Carplay and Android Auto, manual air conditioning, cruise control, electric parking brake, 60/40 split rear seat, traffic sign recognition, speed adviser driving assist, lane-keep assist
Engines:
Petrol: 1.0 120hp, 1.3 150hp
Trims:
Urban, City Cross and Cross Plus
Transmissions:
Six-speed manual, six-speed DSG

There is a school of thought that reckons Fiat should just bite the bullet and rebrand itself 500.  

Sure, the company still sells a few Tipos and Pandas, along with the odd 124 Spider, but the overwhelming majority of cars leaving Fiat showrooms start with a five and have a zero in their name. 

Obviously, there's the near-iconic and hugely popular hatchback sitting alongside the rather gawky, family-friendly 500L, but the model that Fiat sees as increasingly vital to its rude health is the 500X. 

A fresh look

With this in mind, the compact SUV has been given a bit of a shake-up, including some alterations to the bumpers plus LED headlight and tail-light clusters.

Inside, although the interior panels remain retro-inspired, and visually alluring, with a plethora of body coloured panels set into the door tops and dashboard, there's now a redesigned steering wheel and some revised instrumentation to freshen things up a bit. 

4

Unfortunately, the 7in infotainment screen remains rather retro in terms of its speed and clarity, especially compared with the latest gadgets you find in cars like the Seat Arona, but at least the Fiat system is now complemented by Apple Carplay and Android Auto. 

As for space, although things are far from cramped up front - think of Peter Kay and Sian Gibson from Car Share in an identically dimensioned 500L - rear legroom certainly isn't huge, so the rear seats are best suited to children, while the boot is also pretty compact at just 350 litres.

Petrol power

Very much in keeping with modern times, the previous model's diesel engines have been ditched and replaced by a pair of spanking new petrol engines, including a 1.0-litre three-cylinder and a 1.3-litre four-cylinder unit.

Both engines are turbocharged, so despite its dinky capacity, the 1.0-litre manages to produce a healthy 120hp, which propels the X's relatively lightweight body along at a fairly brisk rate without needing to squeeze the pips out of the rev counter. 

That said, it's not the most cultured device. It's not that it is particularly unrefined - most three-pots are quite thrummy and create a fair bit of vibration - but it does stutter more than you'd expect on, and off, the throttle at low revs, so driving in slow-moving traffic is more stressful than need be. 

On faster roads, things do smooth out but a fair bit of mechanical whine can be heard as the revs rise and fall. 

As for the dynamics, the X's steering is by far the most disappointing aspect, as the shiny new hand wheel feels like its connected to the road wheels via a column of mud. 

Consequently, even though there's no shortage of grip, it is quite difficult to place the front end of the car on the road with any great accuracy.

Thankfully, things improve in a straight line, and with the exception of some annoying wind bluster, the X's suspension and bulbous tyres do an impressive job of settling into a relaxed motorway touring gait. 

Playing it safe

Obviously conscious of the original car's disappointing four-star Euro NCAP rating, the latest model has been given additional safety systems to help bring it in line with its latest rivals. 

Traffic sign recognition and lane-keep assist are fitted to all models, while blind-spot detection, automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control can be added as options.

The 500X may not be the greatest car to drive, and it's not exactly big on space, but it does offer competitive running costs and an enormous amount of style for not much cash. Surely, that's what the 500 brand, sorry, the Fiat brand, is all about.

P11D: £20,735

Cost per mile: 53.7p

Fuel consumption: 48.7mpg

CO2 (BIK band): 139g/km (28%)  

BIK 20/40% a month: £97/£193

Boot space: 350 litres

Engine size/power: 999cc/120hp

 


Verdict


7/10
  • Looks more expensive inside and out than its price would suggest
  • Improved safety equipment
  • More efficient engines
  • Woolly steering
  • Poorly resolved low-speed driveability

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