By Mike Torpey on 2020-02-08 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Fiat 500X 1.0 Cross
COMPACT on the outside, roomy on the inside - sounds like the ideal combination for an everyday family runaround.
But the Fiat 500X is far more than a mere suburban shuttle. It's a clever and very economic crossover that gives buyers the choice to indulge in a dual personality, with a splash of Italian style.
That split personality comes in the form of the car's two body styles called Urban and Cross, each available with a choice of three trim grades - Urban, City Cross and Cross Plus.
While Urban look is geared more towards city chic, Cross has more a spirit of adventure with kit like protective skid plates.
There's also a trio of petrol engines, one of which - the 120bhp 1.0-litre FireFly - graced our 500X model.
It's a lively turbocharged unit and struck a useful balance between driving performance and economy, in this case returning an average fuel figure of 45mpg.
The Fiat's six-speed manual transmission is slick and despite only being a small engine there's sufficient punch for enthusiastic driving.
Not to be confused with the classic Fiat 500, the 500X is a larger, more roomy model designed with family motoring in mind.
So there is a slightly raised ride height, allowing for better all-round visibility, and space is pretty good for a compact offering.
For instance you can comfortably accommodate three kids in the back while there's a large split-level boot for everyone's clobber.
The rear seats also split and fold 60/40, though they don't fold completely flat, and plug-in points for devices/phone chargers are located both front and back.
There's also plenty of scope for stashing oddments along with a cup holder in every door bin plus two more in the space behind the gearshift - attractive in its own right with its billiard ball-style knob.
Opting for the top spec Cross Plus trim grade brings plenty of creature comforts like heated front seats, which are well padded and, looking further down the line, durable too.
And if some of the cabin plastics feel on the cheap side the overall perception is one of a smart, sensibly designed crossover with an eye-catching facia in a body colour gloss finish proudly sporting the 500 badge.
Opting for Cross Plus also adds the likes of LED headlights, 18-inch alloy wheels, roof bars and dark tinted rear windows.
That's in addition to TomTom navigation, a seven-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as standard, plus a pin-sharp Parkview rear camera. Lane Assist, which you can turn off, and Active Cruise Control are also on this model.
Fiat 500X 1.0 Cross Plus
Mechanical: 120bhp, 999cc, 3cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox
Max Speed: 117mph
0-62mph: 10.9 seconds
Combined MPG: 48.7
Insurance Group: 7
C02 emissions: 136g/km
Bik rating: 31%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles
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