The italian crossover goes into sport mode
Following the 500, Fiat is pulling out the big guns with the 500X Sport — a bigger, younger, more aggressive model that will establish the Italian brand’s position in the sports crossover market.
The Fiat 500 has embodied the Italian Dolce Vita since the 1930s. Small, light and synonymous with the holiday vibe, the 500 has transcended the generations to become a model that is still a major feature on the world motoring scene today. The Turin-based firm is particularly known for producing special series, demonstrating the many variations it can offer on the small Italian car, but since 2014 it has also been looking at the ‘bigger picture’ by enhancing its iconic model to the extreme, with this new version of the 500X coming in a sporty version with a younger and more assertive look whilst at the same time maintaining its plump and generous silhouette.
Certain touches have been added here and there to distinguish the 500X Sport from its other versions, including body-coloured side skirts and wheel arches, easy-on-the-ear dual exhaust tailpipes, 19-inch alloy wheels and a Rosso Seduzione (‘Seduction Red’) colour option that’s only available on the sports version. That said, the engine is slightly disappointing — a 1.3-litre FireFly Turbo petrol with a 150hp output that’s no better than the Cross version and an acceleration response time that leaves something to be desired. It is also important to note that the car seems somewhat lost in automatic mode and doesn’t always engage the desired gear, whereas it affords a much smoother and more pleasant drive in manual mode.
Inside the car, the front is relatively spacious, with all the features you would expect, including navigation, air-conditioning and an adjustable central armrest, at your fingertips, but it does lack personality when it comes to the dashboard, which bears a striking resemblance to that of its little sister, the 500. Big round buttons, circular headrests... all the hallmarks of the 500, but you’d be forgiven for expecting a more aggressive look from a sports version. But fortunately, Italian charm is never far away. With an aluminium gear lever, a steering wheel with the appropriate dimensions in a broken shape at the bottom for a sporty feel and decorated with Alcantara for a silkier touch, the digital speedometer is not devoid of class either, with an aesthetic reminiscent of Ferrari's thanks to the large white and grey numbers.
The sunroof that allows the sun's rays to warm your skin and replenish your vitamin D levels as you go is another great feature. The panoramic roof is divided into two sections for technical reasons, revealing a bar in the middle of the roof that gives rear passengers the impression that something could fall on them at any time and could be inconvenient and somewhat impractical if you’re planning a spot of star-gazing at night. The rear passenger compartment, meanwhile, is comfortable, with plenty of space between the front and rear seats.
In an attempt to break away from the fixed image people have of the 500 as the perfect little city car for a lady, the family-friendly 500X is aimed more at a young and dynamic audience. It was, in fact, on a football pitch that members of the press were invited to test-drive the brand's latest model, highlighting the sort of dynamic features, control and precision that the Fiat compact SUV shares with the beautiful game. But of course, a crossover aimed at a young audience also has to be family-friendly, and with this in mind, the boot space it offers is insufficient since it is neither very deep nor very high, meaning that it really can’t hold that much, which is a shame for a car that would otherwise be great for holidaying with.