It’s been three years since Fiat’s 500 family was bolstered to span three distinct models. Though the Italian brand’s seemingly immortal 500 city car is undoubtedly the frontman, larger and more practical options are available.
Since 2015, one of these larger options has been 500X crossover. Though only an offcut compared to the sales success of the regular 500, it’s still an important car for Fiat, contributing a commendable amount to total sales of 360,000 globally for the 500 family last year. Here, we drive the facelifted car for the first time.
Though technically a B-segment car, it remains a crossover sandwiched between the two established classes. At 4,248mm nose to tail it’s longer than the likes of the Nissan Juke and Renault Captur, but remains noticeably smaller than the Skoda Karoq and Peugeot 3008. The sloping roofline cuts into headroom, and the 350-litre boot is smaller than you’ll find in a SEAT Arona.
The 500X’s design changes are few and far between, with only some very minor alterations of the front and rear bumpers on both Urban and Cross-badged models. LED headlight and tail-light clusters are now available, too.
The interior remains colourful and retro-inspired, using body coloured gloss plastics for the dashboard surfacing. Fresh interior finishes are offered, plus a new steering wheel and revised instruments, and while the infotainment screen remains the rather fuzzy seven-inch unit found in the old car, it’s now complemented with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard.
Driver assistance features have been expanded to bring the 500X up to date. Traffic sign recognition and lane keep assist are equipped on all models. Blind spot detection, automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control can be added as options.
The big news is found under the bonnet; the diesels have been discontinued, replaced by a pair of new petrol engines. The new 1.0-litre and 1.3-litre ‘Firefly’ engines are the same all-aluminium units found in the updated Jeep Renegade.
The 1.0-litre engine won’t be available in the entry-level Urban car pictured here, instead it is reserved for the slightly pricier City Cross model. While it felt a little strained in the heavier, boxier Renegade, it feels much more at home in the sleeker Fiat 500X. In fact, it’s our pick of the updated range.
It’s by no means fast, but with 118bhp on tap it’s certainly powerful enough to remain quiet at motorway cruising speeds. It boasts enough torque to ensure overtakes aren’t complicated, and while a six-speed manual gearbox is your only option, that’s by no means bad news. The six-speed automatic equipped elsewhere in the 500X range isn’t all that clever, and remains one to avoid.
Elsewhere, the 500X’s steering remains suitably positive and chimes well with the decent amount of grip and body control offered. It’s not as fun as a Mazda CX-3, but it’s a crossover in which you can develop a fair amount of confidence on twistier roads. Ride quality remains a little brittle on rough surfaces, but by and large the 500X is comfortable.
Combined fuel economy of 47.1mpg officially pegs it slightly behind Volkswagen Group crossovers for frugality, and emissions of 139g/km CO2 are high for a 1.0-litre car. As such, while the new 1.0-litre engine certainly improves the overall package, the 500X still won’t be the cheapest option to run.
However, competitive pricing and tempting zero per cent finance deals mean it shouldn’t be too expensive to buy.