We assisted at the launch of this very charming looking compact SUV of the Fiat stable in Turin, and drove it on the roads near the Balocco proving ground, as well as on the unhardened terrain of the test site itself. You can read all about this in our columns. We give you here the link again, just click here, to read again our findings.
Needless to say that we were very keen to get further acquainted with the 500X on our roads here, and test it in everyday circumstances for you. Just read further...
Hans Knol ten Bensel
Styling language in the 'Cinquecento' spirit...
The balanced round shapes and the well chosen proportions of the 500X body are quite pleasing to the eye, also on our second acquaintance. The styling language of this car reveals the same masterful sense of style and has the same balanced interplay between rounded and curved shapes of the smaller 500 and even its original, the 'Nuova 500' of 1957.
Does this mean that the body shapes of this 500X will stand the test of time? We certainly think so...
Built at the updated Italian SATA plant in Melfi (Potenza) and sold in more than 100 countries worldwide, including the United States, this 500X has the unmistakeable ‘styling signature’ to please!
User friendly and stylish cabin...
We find this timeless elegance and line treatment back in the interior, with some details reminiscent of the 500 styling solutions, like the large matt finished door handles for instance, which are a blown up version of the original.
As this is a compact SUV, practicality is a must, and indeed the cabin is brimming with practical stowaway solutions, on the centre console, doors, you name it. Of course the rear seats can fold back (in 60/40 split folding backrest mode if you whish) and the 500X owner can create the loading space and shape he needs for the occasion. Boot space is adequate with a standard volume of 350 litres. With both the rear seats folded down, the space can extend to 1000 litres.
A good seating position is easily found, and everything falls nicely into hand. The instrumentation with its nice round dials breathes a certain purposefulness which is fitting for a SUV, and bears a family resemblance to the instrument styling of the 500L, with the large central instrument housing reminiscent of the original cinquecento.
Again this looks 'just right' and is of a timeless elegance. Equipment is quite lavish on our test car, with of course a state of this art navigation system, through a large centre console display, which is also very practical in its use. In this respect the Fiat Group cars now truly stand out, with everything and all functions fully useable intuitively, with hardly the need to read any instruction books or manuals.
We personally think this is of great importance, and this is a practicality benchmark which every modern car should meet. Connecting your I Phone via Bluetooth to the system, or via USB to play your favourite music is of course a breeze.
The chosen colour combinations in the cabin make it also pleasantly airy, with a nice sporting touch in the tested Cross version.
Devouring miles or kilometres behind the wheel of the 500X is rather pleasant and joyous affair. The 140 HP MultiJet II two litre engine is smooth, whisper quiet and has plenty of pulling power. The output figures show this clearly: this 2 litre unit, fitted with an electronically controlled variable geometry turbocharger, also boasts an impressive torque of 350 Nm at 1750 rpm, and with all this potent power, this 500X has more than adequate performance. 0 to 100 is reached in 9.8 seconds, the top speed is 190 km/h .
The engine was mated in out test car to the 9 speed state of the art automatic box, which distinguished itself with super smooth changes, even - and subjectively even more so - when accelerating hard. The gearing ideally suited to the engine's characteristics. and the weight of this 500X. Overall, we found the auto box even better adjusted, smoother and more agile than in the Cherokee, which had virtually the same engine and auto box.
The slight vibrations we noticed in the Cherokee at lower cruising speeds are (almost) totally absent, the engine and drive train seem to better balanced and insulated for vibrations in the 500 X than in the Cherokee. Also in this respect, our test car has improved over the earlier car we tested near Turin and in Balocco.
The auto box can also be manually operated with two shift paddles at the steering column, and when one chooses the sporting mode on the round selector knob on the centre console, the box will choose higher rev ranges and is even more reactive to throttle movements. The " Mood Selector" drive selection system has three modes – “Auto”, “Sport” and “Traction”, and acts on the engine, brakes, steering, automatic transmission and four-wheel drive.
“Auto” mode is calibrated for everyday driving and ensures maximum comfort and minimum fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. This is achieved through more regular engine calibration and increased power steering, as well as an optimised gear shift point in the auto box to reduce CO2 emissions.
In "Sport" mode , the system switches to a specific calibration of the engine, the ESC system and the steering, to ensure a more direct, sportier driving response.
Last but not least there is the “Traction” function which, on the four-wheel drive version, speeds up the transmission of torque to the rear axle.
The 500X is quite entertaining to drive with spirit, and sporty driving suits the 500X quite well.
Despite all this sportiness, the engine is nevertheless quite docile and untemperamental, and consequently pleasant to use in very dense city traffic, with lots of bottom gear crawls included. A discipline wherein the 500X truly excels.
Drivetrain wise, the 500X is therefore very well up to its city/motorway driving job. The 500X is, quite frugal, also in this powerful Diesel version, last but not least thanks to the state of the art MultiJet technology, Our average test consumption was even slightly below 6 litres, no small feat for a 4WD car. The manufacturer quotes 6,5 l/100 km for urban cycle consumption, and 4,9 litres for extra-urban cycle consumption, with 5,5 litres combined. CO2 emissions (g/km) are 144.
The 500X has electronically assisted steering, and this makes driving effortless, which adds to the nimbleness of this compact SUV. The steering has outstanding precision, with excellent straight line stability at speed, a vast improvement over the earlier tested version in Balocco.
Besides the electric power steering, the 500X also offers the so-called DST system, which improves both driving safety and handling performance by actively correcting over- and understeer. The DST system is completely integrated into the vehicle's electronic stability control (ESC) system and intervenes to correct potentially dangerous situations such as in the case of excessive deflection angles or instability caused, for example, by poor wheel grip.
When it comes to handling and spirited cornering, the 500X does not exactly invite you to do so, but will handle beautifully neutral up to very high cornering speeds without any drama when you are in a great hurry.
The good news is that the 500X therefore offers you a big safety margin when the road conditions get worse or more difficult than you expected, and also thanks to the driving assistance systems like the abovementioned DST, you will hardly get into trouble behind the wheel of the 500X.
Sound insulation and road or wind roar are excellent for the car's size, and therefore the 500X is quite fit for high speed motorway cruising for hours on end. We stress here again the high level of quietness and absence of vibration(s), giving this 500X true premium car character.
Of course, we put the 500X also through its paces off road. The 500X excels here too, which could be expected as the platform is shared with the Jeep Renegade, and of course, the Jeep 4WD know how which is now brought into the Fiat group certainly having a positive influence. We were astonished to feel the uncanny balance of the car, its truly smooth and very commanding behaviour in muddy, quite uneven terrain, with the short overhangs of the body well dimensioned to tackle sharp and deep ridges effortlessly, without the slightest risk of any body damage. Indeed, a compact SUV with very good all-terrain properties, which puts it easily at the top of its class.
The second acquaintance 500X has agreeably surprised us in many ways. It is not only stylish with an airy and practical cabin, it drives also wonderfully smooth, with a premium car sound insulation and absence of any vibrations. Also the quality of the used materials and the overall finish level is beyond reproach. Add to all this the smooth, powerful engine, the state of the art 9 speed auto box, the sporting handling and the driving pleasure the 500 X offers, and you will agree this car is worth a second look. On top of all that, you can tackle any road you wish; be sure, this 500 X will accompany you all the way...
Hans Knol ten Bensel