Fiat has taken a bicycle pump to the wildly successful 500 to create the 500X, available from Richard Hardie showrooms in the north-east of England. This is surely a contender for the best small crossover on the UK market.
Although the new Fiat 500X has a mumsy feel, the sheer quality and quirky appeal of the new crossover should ensure a good 10% of the existing customer base migrating to the new model.
There’s certainly a generous-sized existing customer base. In 2014, the Italian firm sold nearly 50,000 500s and should pass the quarter of a million mark, achieved in just seven years.
If the lease is running out soon on your 500, expect to be swamped by leaflets and phone calls pushing the 500’s big brother. You might just happily fall into Fiat’s traps, too, because the X certainly has the X Factor. It really could lead the small crossover sector.
Although the 500X is more of a Jeep, Fiat has managed to carry over the look and feel of the quirky retro minicar. Although the X is fairly sizeable, it doesn’t look too big, but it still comes with a good-sized cabin with plenty of leg and headroom.
You’re sure to want one. But which one? There’s no shortage of choice. Try six engines and three transmissions. Depending on your priorities, though, technical details might be less sexy to you than the 6.5-inch infotainment system. Yes, this is as exciting as it sounds.
But how’s the Fiat 500X for drivers? If you already drive a Fiat 500, you’ll feel like you never went away, in a car that blends city driving and rugged practicality in one neat package. For pure driving nirvana, plump for the 1.4-litre MultiAir petrol engine, choose the Sport option, then yell ‘yippee’.
The 500X has a real sense of fun. It’s a spirited drive that’ll make you feel alive, even when you might not. It corners nicely and doesn’t feel like it’s about to roll over like a poodle. Feedback from the steering wheel could be better but if you’re the typical 500X buyer, you probably won’t lose too much sleep over that.
The six-speed gearbox is as smooth as a strawberry shake and the big gear knob is lovely to hold. Oo-er, missus. Of course, if you’re an incorrigible show-off, you might prefer the optional nine speeds, but this can really complicate things when taking corners.
The Fiat 500X seems to offer the best of all worlds. You’ve got the quirky charm of a Cactus, the daring styling of a Juke and the classy finish of a Mini. But the X should hold its value better than its rivals.
If you can get past the crazy range of trims (Pop Star interior, anyone?) and eventually choose one, you’ll be rewarded with a car that’s possibly the best in a class that’s set to explode.