Img src: www.fiat.co.uk
…the little 500 has been working out!
To say the Fiat 500 is a household name is somewhat of an understatement, OK so it might not be quite as iconic in this country as the Mini but globally this little Italian car is as famous as it is loved. As with the aforementioned Mini and the equally classic Volkswagen Beetle the 500 got the “re-make” treatment after the original model ended production in 1975. This 2007 version saw much of the original charm brought up to date in a very neat and very cool little package. Now, once again following the Mini trend Fiat are rolling out other versions of the iconic car in the hope of creating a Fiat 500 for everyone. They are quite a bit behind BMW with their multitude of Mini models but do not let that put you off. It is also worth trying to block the somewhat unattractive Fiat 500L from your mind when read this review as this latest version of the 500 is a considerably better offering.
What is a Compact SUV?
The SUV segment is huge, it seems every man woman and their shared dog seems to be able to find a reason to have a high riding 4X4 looking car even if its just to go to the shops but size and space is often an issue so along came the Compact SUV. These mini versions of the school run classic allow people to enjoy all the benefits of an SUV without the fuel costs, carbon footprint and worry about getting in and out of those tight multi storey parking spaces. It is in the highly popular sub segment that the Fiat 500X fits and it fits very well indeed.
OK, so this was always going to be the hard part. Anyone can make a mini SUV of they ignore the styling, but to attempt to keep the cute and cool look of the 500 while still creating a purposeful and potentially capable SUV was a big ask. The bottom line here is Fiat have pretty much done it! The 500X seems to somehow manage to ride nice and high and with, the X styling pack, look like a kind of SUV but most importantly it still looks cool. It is almost like Fiat just inflated the 500 until it looked big enough but the great thing is that the car seems to still be in proportion. Nothing looks oddly sized or out of place, it really works.
img src: www.fiat.co.uk
Space and Pace
Well SUV’s very rarely have to worry about being fast but that being said there is also no excuse for being painfully slow either. The test car I had was the 1.6 diesel Multijet and I have to say it was certainly fast enough. There are a number of more powerful models which run right up to a 170bhp version but the 120bhp test car certainly did the job. Once thing an SUV really does have to offer is space and the 500X once again did not disappoint. I did struggle to get our rather large Mountain Buggy in the boot but the cabin was very airy with plenty of space for 4 adults and the boot would be ample for most shopping and travelling needs.
Riding High and Getting Dirty
The 500X doesn’t quite offer the king of the road style ride height you might expect from a larger SUV but it is certainly elevated. On top of that the handling is very robust, solid and safe feeling, you really feel like the car has the confidence to take on more than just the school run and that is the point after all. Fiat do offer a number of 2 wheel drive versions for those who never intend to take the car off road but they also make sure there of All wheel drive for those who want it. Of course to get the full fat version you might have to dig a little deeper into those pockets as these versions start at £22,000 whereas the entry level standard version is around £14,000. It would seem a waste not to go for AWD if the budget would stretch because this little car really wants to take on a little wrought stuff even if it ends up just being a muddy field full of tents on a family camping trip, you certainly feel it would not leave you stuck where other people might be.
All Things To All Men
Well, perhaps that is a little over the top but the 500X really does have a number of hats and it wears them all very well. Family car, cool and cutesy shopping car, part time off roader and above all a Fiat 500. It is important to say it is not so “cute” that I would not be happy driving around in it, but it does hang on to enough of the 500 styling and retro interior to keep fans of the original happy.
It seems all that time in the gym lifting weights has paid off for the 500 X, I wonder what’s next!