Fiat 500X City Cross

1.0

Fiat 500X, front
Fiat 500X, dynamic
Fiat 500X, rear
Fiat 500X, interior
Fiat 500X, boot
Fiat 500X, controls

THE 500X aims to appeal to buyers who like the retro styling of Fiat's hugely popular 500 but need family space and practicality.

To look upon this compact crossover merely as a pumped up city car would be entirely wrong, though.

There are certainly familiar design cues shared by the two, including the instantly recognisable nose, front and rear light clusters, body-coloured metal dashboard, instrument panel and circular seat headrests.

However, the 500X has more in common with it's Fiat Group relative the Jeep Renegade, a more traditionally-styled SUV, with which it shares much of its underpinnings.

But while the Jeep remains an option for those looking to venture off-road, since a 2018 facelift the 500X has had a more urbane focus, with only front-wheel drive available and no diesel option.

The City Cross, which we drove, and Cross Plus trims do still offer a chunkier more rugged design, with plenty of plastic cladding, for those that want it but Urban and Lounge versions are more streamlined as is a dynamically-styled range-topping Sport version launched last year.

Power across the range comes from a choice of two fashionably downsized turbocharged petrol engines which are dubbed FireFly by the Italian manufacturer.

The 1.0-litre, three-cylinder option in our car is impressively punchy for a small unit, proving responsive in stop-start urban traffic but still possessing enough pace to easily keep up on the motorway.

When accelerating the characteristic thrum of a three-pot engine means it is not the most refined, but this settles down at a steady cruise, and there is also some vibration through the cabin when idling.

Arguably such foibles actually help to endow this larger SUV with some of the distinctive character of its diminutive city car sibling.

The free-revving engine is mated to a six-speed manual gearbox, which has a nice smooth action. Although you'll find yourself having to drop down a cog or two for injections of genuine pace or on steeper inclines, this just adds to the feel of what is actually quite an engaging car to drive.

The steering is quick and light, a real boon for manoeuvring in the town and city streets, but also precise enough to instill confidence without necessarily offering huge amounts of feedback.

Grip is also impressive and, despite its elevated ride height, the 500X stays settled and relatively flat through corners compared to some crossovers while the suspension deals well with most imperfections in the road surface, ensuring passengers remain comfortable.

Decent performance is complemented by family-friendly economy, with this model offering up to 43.5 miles per gallon on average and also boasting a low insurance rating to help keep running costs down.

Practicality should also meet the needs of the average family, with good head and leg room for four adults to travel in comfort, five on shorter trips, and a decent amount of storage around the cabin, including a second glovebox in the upper dashboard.

The boot, at 350 litres rising to 1,000 with the split rear seat back folded down, offers decent carrying capacity for a compact car and has the versatility of an adjustable floor.

A seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system featuring digital radio as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity dominates the dashboard with other equipment including all the essentials such as air conditioning, cruise control, lane keep assist and traffic sign recognition.

You'll need to step up to range-topping trims to get satnav and a rearview camera, however, and automatic emergency braking can only be had on any version as an optional extra.

FAST FACTS

Fiat 500X City Cross 1.0

Price:£20,095

Mechanical: 120ps, 999cc 3cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 117mph

0-62mph:10.9 seconds

Combined MPG: 43.5

Insurance Group: 10

C02 emissions:122g/km

Bik rating:29%

Warranty: 3yrs/unlimited miles

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