When I saw the FIAT 500X debut in Geneva,
my first thought was it was a tough task trying to make an SUV from a 500
Probably just body kits, jacked up suspension, knobbly tyres and a
No, no, no. Believe it or not this is the
It is a bit of an
American Pie though, based on the Jeep Renegade platform developed in Auburn
However, despite some styling similarities, this ain’t a
Bambino! But, the Italian car looks way sexier than its American cousin.
There’s the logo, the badge, the design
elements, and FIAT’s very capable 1.4 MultiAir turbo engine, but that’s about
it. The rest is a mix that emerged from a design and development blender.
However cynical I may appear about this new
FIAT, I am mightily impressed by the finished product. It goes well, looks
smart, is great off-road and solid as a rock.
I decided to take it deep into one of my
bush hideaways to take some still photos, but found myself really enjoying
driving the 500X Cross Plus up and down bush trails, over deep ruts, and slogging
through some soggy waterholes.
It performed so well I just kept on exploring,
until it was time to get back on the bitumen.
This is a very capable off-roader, which is
a real surprise and delight.
Down on the centre console is the drive selector
switch, and a quick flip to the right delivers pretty impressive terrain-tackling
The car I’m driving is the most expensive
model in the range, the FIAT 500X Cross Plus, at AUD$39,000 – but if want the
look, without the off-road kit, you can buy a Pop version for AUD$28,000. There
are two stages of tune for the 1.4 MultiAir turbo engine.
The Pop, and Pop Star have 103kW output,
and the Lounge and Cross Plus have the 125kW version. Personally, I think the
Lounge is the one to go for, at AUD$38,000.
Highway and suburban driving reveals a
noticeable hum from the all-purpose tyres, but the engine noise is muted, and
the torque-convertor 9-speed auto transmission is silky-smooth – either
upshifts or downshifts.
It’s a comfortable car, with an amazing
amount of internal space, given the 2570mm wheelbase, and 4248mm overall
The boot is a really useful size, because the spare is a space saver.
The cockpit layout is functional, but I
wouldn’t call it one of FIAT’s greatest styling achievements. It’s a bit
disjointed in terms of binnacle design, and lacks cohesion along the top of the
dashboard and where it meets the instruments. The lower section is a hodgepodge of modules, bumps and aircon controls. Good thing is, from behind the wheel you get
to see everything easily.
The upper glovebox is good for, ah! Gloves!
The touchscreen system works well, very
intuitive to use and the Beats sound system is excellent.
Could I see the Cross Plus down on the
farm? Yes, I can. Maybe you could load up a hay bale or two, but you can certainly cart the kids around, carry some school bags, skateboards, luggage
and golf clubs – and it will easily carry you through those boggy patches on
the way to the farm gate.
Around town it's great for a pizza pickup, and great for the beach run too.
This is a well-conceived and well-resolved package, and I am
confident it will help FIAT’s brand development in Australia – and indeed in
the vital US market too. It’s cute, has a lot of Italian flair, and it’s
I’d be happy to have one in my garage.