Test: Fiat 500X 1.6 MultiJet
A while ago we drove the Jeep Renegade (review still due), but in the meantime we’ve also spent a week behind the wheel of its cousin; the Fiat 500X 1.6 MultiJet producing 120hp. These first two majorly important export products from FCA have blown new life into Melfi and its surrounding industry, as you’ve been able to read extensively here at AutoEdizione. Critics say the Italo-Americans are quite late to enter this Crossover-market compared to the competition, but enthusiasts such as we couldn’t care less and admire FCA for these two entries. They’re two cars with the same technique, but with a completely different way of approach. One is robust and a little more American, while the other is explicitly Italian in both looks and feel behind the wheel. The latter is in part due to Fiat placing a handy rotary in the center console that looks different from Alfa’s DNA ‘manettino’, but shares the same function allowing you to choose the 500X’s driving behavior. The Fiat is also quieter and more refined because of its more aerodynamic bodywork.
Again the lovely 1600 MultiJet2 putting out 120hp then. This engine is found in nearly every model FCA puts out, but the difference with competitors is that FCA manages to give a distinct feel and look to all of its models, something that can’t be said of other large manufacturers. Looking at Fiat alone, there is an immense difference between the practical 500L and this 500X. Friend and foe despised the former because of its looks (we don’t), while the latter was well received all around the world right from the moment it was revealed. The letter X fits this car… And so does the L on its sister as they both serve an entirely different purpose. We’ve even heard the rumor that Fiat slightly regrets launching the L ahead of the X in hindsight, as people probably would’ve appreciated the L’s purpose much more if they’d seen the X beforehand. If looks and style is what you’re after, this X is clearly the one to go for. But let’s not worry ourselves about these kinds of details, as Fiat is commercially achieving its goals with both models as it now seems. The 500L seems a keeper in Italy especially, with the 500X looking to become Fiat’s first international success since the tiny 500.
The used materials and extra high standards of quality of this car is a step beyond the 500L, a car we also praised for its qualitative finish. Melfi produces these two spookily perfectionist cars and FCA looks to conquer the world with only the best of the best in this segment. The Renegade was well received in the US and so was this car last month. Goal achieved; convincing the consumer overseas in terms of looks, quality and technique. Europe shouldn’t be forgotten of course, but Fiat knows as no other that sales are much more variable here than in the US.
The level of comfort is top-notch. It also feels much bigger than it is. In fact, we’re anxious to try out this SUV-like luxury in combination with the 9-speed automatic, four-wheel drive and 170hp MultiAir. The steering is usually not one of FCA’s strong points. In almost all Lancias, Alfas and Fiats it feels numb and often too light. In the 500X it felt like they did a better job with direct, precise inputs and just an overall pleasant feel. Though the car feels bigger than it is on the road, this isn’t the most spacious of vehicles. Legroom is nothing to complain about, but a sloping roofline always means the rear headroom is slightly compromised, something the Renegade doesn’t suffer from. The Jeep offers much better all-round visibility as well, but fortunately not to the point where it becomes a real issue in the Fiat. In return you get smiles and cheers from pedestrians who can acknowledge that there’s sufficient 500-DNA in the design to carry the name. This beefed up 500 should be able to attract a more masculine crowd as well. We find it a great piece of design by Fiat. Only the rear lights are not to your editor’s personal favor as they seem a bit too blunt and actually remind me of that one German-British competitor putting out one variant after the other and being no longer true to its name, even with its smallest model. These Minis are much more expensive as well. A great feat of the 500X is the quality and equipment it offers at a price that is nowhere near as steep as you might expect.
Back in 2007 the 500 was exactly what Fiat needed to finally offer the world something worthy again, giving the diluted brand instantly more appeal again. As far as we’re concerned, the 500X is a second chapter in this revival. Fiat is now more than ever ready to attack the global market and seems perfectly able to reinvent itself. The competition is kept in mind of course, but this degree of confidence and capability of continuing on a distinct DNA is something we can only applaud. The brand from Lingotto trumps almost every make out there when it comes to originality and that apparently works. The 500X masters that colorful aspect and is able to distinguish itself among other offerings in the segment. A mere glance at this Crossover can win people over, much like the 500 manages. This provides hope for Fiat’s oncoming five-door variant to appear next year. May it conquer as many hearts as these two (will) do. Lingotto is building a reputation here as a manufacturer that brings out attractive, practical and innovative vehicles of an up-class quality. They’re given a ten out of ten by AutoEdizione.