JUST how much a car manufacturer can wring out of one model line is exemplified by the Fiat 500 range.
This all started off with a retro inspired little city car which caught on tremendously with trendy young drivers.
Such was its success that the range grew and one of the most interesting of the variants is the 500X, a chunky crossover which takes the 500 into to new territory.
The 500X is a crossover (a mix of hatchback and compact SUV ) in more ways than one because in addition to bridging the gap between vehicle segments, it brings together two different customer profiles.
The reason being that it comes in two distinct flavours, one designed to appeal those with a fun-loving, spirited, metropolitan outlook and another, more rugged 4x4 version for stylish, active adventurers.
Designed in the Centro Stile Fiat, the new 500X not only has clear links to its siblings in the current 500 family but also the iconic 1957 original, most notably its large, circular headlamps, unmistakable nose brightwork and distinctive clamshell bonnet.
I have already driven the 4x4 version which is surprisingly capable on forest tracks and the like, but I recently had the opportunity to try out the front-wheel drive version equipped with traction+ enhanced grip technology.
A drive over varying roads proved the 500x to be a taut and involving, but still relaxing drive.
The new front seats offer a high degree of comfort and adjustability with wraparound bolstering and thoughtfully aligned arm rests in the centre console and door trims for relaxed cruising.
With sophisticated connectivity and a 3.5-inch TFT display the 500X is aimed at the new generation motorists, but around the dashboard there are still features of the retro look of the 500.
Under the bonnet of this car was the highly regarded Fiat 1.6 diesel, making this 120bhp Cross model a popular seller.
This is one of the most frugal engines in the 500X range returning 68.9mpg on the combined cycle with a low 109g/km emissions readout. Selling at £20,095 this is a responsive and enjoyable car with 115mph on tap and a 0-62mph sprint of 10.5 seconds.
Fiat has made great advances in both build quality and market appeal in recent times and this model proves the point beyond question.