By Patrick James on 2016-03-27 - The author has been a motoring writer for more than 16 years. Formerly motoring editor at the Coventry Telegraph, he now produces motoring copy, on new car launches and road tests on a freelance basis.
Fiat 500X 1.4
THE success of Fiat's funky and fun 500 has been astonishing.
Just like another retro rival, MINI, the resurrection of the 500 name has resulted in huge success.
Like its British rival, Fiat has looked to build on that success with other derivatives, including the 500L and now the 500X, a car taking on the giants in the the huge crossover market.
It attracts admirers from both sexes, with its choice of 12 body colours and eight designs and the ability for every owner to personalise the look.
Where the 500L is elongated version of the city car, the 500X is a different beast altogether. It is available in Pop, Pop Star and Lounge specifications, plus the striking looking and rugged off-road Cross and Cross plus.
The Cross, driven here, is a car featuring a punchy engine, excellent handling and four wheel drive capability.
All models have decent equipment levels, with entry-level Pop featuring electric windows all round, manual air con and seat height adjustment, plus electric mirrors, cruise control and six airbags. The toys get better as you move up the range.
While the car still has the retro look of its smaller sibling, it is considerably beefed up and based on a larger platform shared by the Jeep Renegade, which gives it excellent handling characteristics - so important when lined up against rivals like the Skoda Yeti or the Nissan Qashqai.
While sharing many of the styling cues of the smaller car, it features its larger headlamps, more of a teardrop shape than round and distinctive clamshell bonnet, built in roofbars and chrome exhaust - so it looks just as funky.
Build quality with Fiat has come on leaps and bounds and the 500X is no exception, with high-grade soft touch materials and a neat and colourful instrument layout.
It is dominated by a 6.5-inch screen which features Fiat's UconnectTM system with 3D navigation and smartphone integration. It also controls other connectivity and major functions.
It looks a comfortable place to be and it is, with a commanding driving position and well contoured seats to front and rear. Head and legroom is impressive.
As a crossover it needs to be practical and there are a host of clever storage compartments as well as the ingenious folding and tumbling seats system.
This allows the 350-litre boot to be extended to 1,000 litres to accommodate all manner of loads using dozens of seat combinations. A removable load platform which is reversible and height adjustable is also available.
There are a number of engine and gearbox combinations, including a new nine-speed automatic transmission. This model featured a 170bhp, turbo charged 1.4-litre petrol engine, mated to a six-speed manual gearbox.
It is a lively and refined performer, powering the car from 0-60mph in just under 10 seconds and delivering decent economy of a claimed economy of around 47mpg.
It feels sporty, but is quiet and refined with engine noise well suppressed, while the handling feels taut and composed. The only down side is the firm ride, especially on lesser roads.
Safety equipment is comprehensive, with a full complement of airbags, traction and stability control and the Brake Control collision mitigation system which functions up to 120mph.
There are many options available to bump up the costs, but an interesting one is the offer of a sound system developed in collaboration with Beats by Dr. Dre which comes with a 560W, eight-channel digital amplifier.
Prices for the 500X start at just under £14,000, rising to just over £25,000 for the fully specced all wheel drive automatic model.The three year warranty also includes unlimited mileage.
Fiat 500X 1.4 MultiAir Cross
Mechanical: 167bhp, 1,368cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving four wheels via six-speed manual gearbox
Max Speed: 118mph
0-62mph: 9.8 seconds
Combined MPG: 47.1
Insurance Group: 11
C02 emissions: 139g/km
Bik rating: 22%
Warranty: 3yrs/unlimited miles
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