Fiat 500X SUV (2018 - ) review
The 500X takes the vibe of Fiat’s hugely popular 500 hatchback and supersizes it into an SUV. It’s a rival to many, including the Renault Captur, Volkswagen T-Roc and Nissan Juke.
Interested in buying a Fiat 500X?
How good does it look?
Looks are the main reason the majority of people will buy the 500X, and its success thus far is testament to the fact that quite a lot of customers rather like it. It reflects the smaller 500 hatchback, which itself leans heavily on the classic Fiat 500 of the 1950s and ‘60s.
The 500X was first introduced in 2014 and given a facelift in 2018, with new bumper designs and LED daytime running lights and rear lights on all models. There are also new headlight and rear light designs, and the top-spec Cross Plus model gets full LED headlights, which are brighter than the standard bulbs.
Three versions of the 500X are available. The Urban model has sleeker styling and 16-inch alloy wheels, while the two Cross models – called City Cross and Cross Plus – feature faux skid plates at the front and back, for a more off-road look. The City Cross has 17-inch wheels and front fog lights, and the Cross Plus rides on big 18-inch alloys.
What's the interior like?
The retro styling continues inside, with a look that harks back to the original 500. Unfortunately, it looks better than it feels, with too many hard, brittle-feeling plastics. This is particularly true in the back, and in areas lower down in the car. Several rivals have much higher quality interiors.
Still, all cars come with an infotainment system controlled through a 7.0-inch touch-screen and featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for smartphone connectivity. The screen is small compared to some rivals, although it’s easy to navigate around. We did find the TomTom sat-nav – standard in the CrossPlus model – took an age to start up and wasn’t the most reliable of systems when it comes to routing. The seats are comfortable and, along with the steering wheel, have plenty of adjustment.
How practical is it?
The 500X isn’t a particularly big car, but as a car for those that want a regular 500 but with more room, it’s not too bad for practicality. Space up front is absolutely fine, and it’ll house two tall-ish adults in the back without too many problems. Three will be a squeeze for longer than a few minutes though. There are two cupholders between the front seats and good-sized door pockets front and back, as well as two glove boxes to keep odds and ends in.
The boot, at 350 litres, isn’t exactly small, and it has a movable floor to create extra space and an almost-flat surface when the rear seats are folded down. It’s comparable in size to the Nissan Juke.
However, there are other cars of this type that boast more room, most notably the Volkswagen T-Roc (445 litres) and the Renault Captur (455 litres with the rear seats moved forward).
What's it like to drive?
The driving experience of the 500X is best described as competent, without excelling in any particular area. The ride is generally smooth enough, but a few lumps and bumps will make themselves known through the suspension when the road gets rougher. However, it’s still within the boundaries of comfort. The handling is decent, feeling solid and stable through corners, although light steering means it doesn’t feel particularly sharp. However, the pay-off to this is easy manoeuvring at low speeds.
How powerful is it?
For the facelifted 500X, Fiat made the decision to stop selling diesel versions in the UK, as previous take-up had been minimal. Instead, there’s a choice of three petrol engines, two of which are brand new. We’ve tried the 1.0-litre, three-cylinder turbocharged engine with 120 horsepower, which despite its small size is impressively punchy and should suit the needs of most customers.
If you do want more power, there’s a 1.3-litre turbo engine with 150 horsepower, which is the only model to come with an automatic gearbox. There’s also a entry-level non-turbo, 1.5-litre engine with 110 horsepower, and a manual gearbox.
Anyone with plans to go off-road should probably reconsider, as Fiat has also discontinued four-wheel drive 500Xs in the UK, and all models are front-wheel drive. If you plan to head away from the tarmac, you could look at the 500X’s cousin, the Jeep Renegade, which comes with four-wheel drive and shares mechanical components with the Fiat.
How much will it cost me?
The 500X isn’t the cheapest car to buy of its type, with costs generally higher than the Nissan Juke or Renault Captur, although it’s some way cheaper than the (admittedly more premium) Volkswagen T-Roc. However, the 500X doesn’t have particularly great predicted resale values compared with these rivals, which over the course of several years of ownership will mean higher overall costs.
The cost of service, maintenance and repair is also likely to be higher. Comparing fuel economy figures for the 1.0-litre engine in the 500X with rival equivalents doesn’t reflect well on the Fiat either. Overall, it’s unlikely the 500X will be the most financially prudent choice when considering the other options out there.
How reliable is it?
Fiat has a patchy reliability record, and unfortunately one that doesn’t appear to be improving. The Warranty Direct Reliability Index, which ranks vehicles and manufacturers post-factory warranty, places Fiat solidly mid-table for its older cars. However, the Italian manufacturer was bottom but one in the 2018 JD Power Vehicle Dependability Study, and fourth from bottom in the 2017 study. Should anything go wrong, the 500X does at least come with a three-year, unlimited mileage warranty.
How safe is it?
All versions of the updated 500X come with Traffic Sign Recognition and Speed Advisor systems, which use a camera to read road signs and display the information in the cockpit, to help stop you speeding inadvertently, as well as Lane Assist to warn you if you drift out of your lane. However, automatic emergency braking is an optional extra, which is a shame when some newer rivals offer this as standard, such as the Volkswagen T-Roc. The 500X scored a reasonable, but not spectacular, four stars during crash tests by safety organisation Euro NCAP back in 2015. All cars come with six airbags, and there are two Isofix child seat mounting points on the outer back seats.
How much equipment do I get?
All three versions of the 500X have a reasonable level of standard equipment, including a leather steering wheel, two USB ports, manual air conditioning and cruise control. Options include adaptive cruise control, which automatically maintains a set gap to the car in front of you, and a blind spot alert system.
Upgrade to the City Cross and you’ll get a colour monitor between the instrument dials with extra driving information displayed, as well as more sophisticated air conditioning and rear parking sensors.
The top-of-the-range Cross Plus features LED headlights, roof bars and dark tinted windows, as well as TomTom navigation, a rear parking camera and an armrest between the two front seats.
Simply, because you’re sold on the retro looks. There are more competent cars of this size available, whether you’re looking for a fun drive, loads of space or better value for money. But few can match the 500X’s cheeky presence and the heritage that it taps into, and it’s solid enough to drive and live with, which means if you want one, and get one, you’ll probably be happy with your purchase.