Forget the fake-4x4 image and enjoy the fab new engines and extra cabin tech. By Colin Overland
LIKE STING BRIEFLY pretending to be some sort of punk rocker because that was the way to get noticed in 1977, the Fiat 500X has now abandoned even the faintest suggestion that it’s the offroad version of Turin’s retro city car.
No longer available in all-wheel-drive form in the UK, the facelifted X is now a better car, thanks largely to the arrival of two new engines.
They are both newly developed turbocharged petrols: a 1.0-litre triple and a 1.3-litre four, making 118 and 148bhp respectively. The triple comes with a sweet six-speed manual gearbox, the four with a so-so six-speed DCT paddleshift auto that’s overly-keen on changing up early. You can also get a tweaked version of the old naturally-aspirated 1.6 petrol four, but the diesels still available elsewhere are now steering clear of the UK along with all-wheel drive.
FIAT 500X CITY CROSS 1.0
Enjoyable all-rounder dressed up as a cartoon 4x4
The clean new turbo petrols are both smooth and torquey, and the official mpg figures are reasonably impressive at 48.7 and 46.3mpg respectively.
The 1.6 engine comes in slightly muted Urban spec, and is the cheapest way into the new range, with an onthe- road price of £16,995. But our pick would be the City Cross 1.0, which costs an extra two grand. The manual gearchange works beautifully with the spunky little triple. The 1.3 is a bit smoother and usefully more gutsy, as we found on the steep hills above Turin, but the compulsory DCT is annoying, and the cheapest 1.3 costs a mildly troublesome £21,195.
The ride quality is very well judged. There’s not much bodyroll, and yet the car swallows up the shocks of potholes and (ahem) unnoticed speedbumps without fuss. The external facelift (new bumpers, mostly) and internal changes (snazzier infotainment, more safety aids as standard) are less significant than the engines, but they contribute to an overall package that makes a lot more sense on the road than it does on paper.
Stop worrying about this being a fake 4x4 or an over-inflated 500 and just appreciate its roominess, comfort, easygoing nature and decent value.