Fiat 500X 1.4 MultiAir II review

Fiat has a real star with the little 500, but many people need more space and versatility. This is exactly what the 500X delivers, and still with Italian style. There is plenty of standard equipment, a smart cabin and a big list of options and option packs to make the car more personal. Some friends who hated the protective door 'airbumps' of the rival Citroen Cactus loved the looks of the 500X.

Review by Russell Bray

PERFORMANCE

Fiat expects its 118bhp 1.6 litre turbo diesel engine to be most popular in the UK but it's not an enthusiastic unit, unlike the lively 1.4 litre petrol which is also turbocharged and is the pick of the four engine line-up. Producing 138bhp at 5,000rpm the 1,368cc 16-valve petrol engine feels a typically, zesty Italian motor and gives the 500X the character and brio you expect. Maximum torque of 170 lb ft arrives at an early 1,750rpm thanks to the 'blower' and with a slick, six-speed manual gearbox – much better than the little sister 500's – this is the combination that can put a smile on the driver's face. It's no sports car but it does feel keen. Acceleration to 62mph takes 9.8 seconds and top speed is 118mph. Chose Sport mode settings to sharpen up the throttle response and make the car sound sportier.

HANDLING

Despite its family resemblance to the little Fiat 500, the 500X shares its mechanical underpinnings with the new Jeep Renegade and that allows Fiat to offer the car with on-demand four-wheel if you want it; though as with cars like the Nissan Qashqai probably most are going to be front-wheel drive. There's a choice of 16, 17 and 18-inch wheels and that affects how the car handles and rides. On optional 17s (£150) we thought the ride was fine but drove around potholes. As you would expect of a taller vehicle there is more body lean through corners taken briskly but its understeer is well controlled and it doesn't tend to plough straight on. It's no Mini Countryman through through the twisty stuff but it's more fun than a Skoda Yeti or a Vauxhall Mokka. Cross and Cross Plus versions ride higher for more off-road ability. Auto, Sport and Off-road settings alter the steering and throttle response. In Sport the steering feels unnaturally weighty at times. The 500X is available with three different transmissions: 4x2, 4x2 with Traction Plus and 4x4.

BODY STYLE

Drawing on the cute little 500 hatchback the 500X's looks were always going to come in for some criticism. But in the right colours it proves a popular and stylish attention grabber, and if you spend time looking at the lines and creases you begin to appreciate what a clever job the designers have done. Just consider a Mini Countryman in comparison. The 500X looks best with its plastic bumpers the same colour as the body, unless you live deep in the countryside and want an 'off-road look' with the Cross and Cross Plus models. These are available with four-wheel drive unlike the 'city look’ Pop, Pop Star and Lounge versions. The Fiat identity is there and the 500X doesn't look like it's taken its lumps in a fight like the Nissan Juke. Luggage volume is a handy 350 litres and increases to 1,000 litres if you fold down the rear seats. Length 4,248mm. Width 1,796mm.

COMFORT & CONTROLS

Fiat 500X interior

The front seats were comfy even though they look very 'styled', but while a lower seating position than the Renegade encourages sportier driving, they do not hold you too well in bends. They match the classy interior though with its good looking instruments and minor controls. The steering wheel is a class act too but the column stalks look off something cheaper, as do the tops of the door trims in the rear of the car. The steering and the parking brake are both electrically assisted. The test car had one of the best manual gear changes we have experienced recently in a Fiat. You can pair all the turbo petrol and diesel engines with a six-speed manual, a six-speed dual-clutch or nine-speed automatic gearbox. There's a large infotainment screen but the navigation got confused at times south of the river in London. The rear seats are rather flat for long distances but leg and headroom is fine for six-footers. They fold flat easily for carrying bigger loads. Rear vision is not great because of the small rear window and wide roof pillars. There are plenty of large bins for oddments.

MPG & RUNNING COSTS

Put through the official tests the 500X 1.4 MultiAir achieved 47.1 MPG on the combined fuel cycle. That compares to 68.9 MPG for the 118bhp diesel. We achieved 34.3 MPG to 39.7 MPG depending on traffic conditions and driving style. A heavy foot really makes a big difference to the fuel consumption. The main service interval is at around 18,000 miles, or after 24 months. The 500X is only covered by a two year warranty with unlimited mileage

GREEN CREDENTIALS

Thw 1.4 MultiAir engine has and 109g/km in band C carbon dioxide emissions of 139 g/km which puts it into road tax band E with an annual charge of £130. Again, for the lowest running costs on a 500X, you would need to pick the frugal 1.6 MultiJet diesel, which emits 109 g/km CO2, with no first year tax and then £30 per year. The MultiAir II engine offers a 10 per cent increase in power and 15 per cent improvement in torque levels when compared to a non-MultiAir unit - despite improving fuel consumption and emissions levels by 10 per cent. The efficient Euro 6 compliant engine also features automatic stop and restart of engine in stop-go traffic to save fuel.
According to our calculations, the tested has a Next Green Car Rating of **.

OPTIONAL EXTRAS

All models come with cruise control with speed limiter; manual air conditioning, remote control central locking, electric front and rear windows, a height-adjustable driver's seat plus a touch screen infotainment system that includes Bluetooth and music streaming. Pop Star models gain 17-inch alloy wheels, body colour door mirrors, front fog lights with cornering illumination, automatic climate control and rear parking sensors. Option packs (not all are available on all models) are: Safety, Comfort, Comfort Plus, Visibility, Winter, Electric, and Nav Plus. Comfort provides keyless go, lumbar adjustment on driver's seat and extra front armrest. Visibility pack has automatic lights and wipers, folding mirrors and automatic dipping rear view mirror. The Winter pack adds a heated steering wheel and heated windscreen. The dynamic Safety pack has lane departure warning, blind spot detection, forward collision mitigation and rear view camera. The Nav pack has a 6.5" touch screen, DAB radio, Bluetooth and satellite navigation and an SD card slot.

MODEL SUMMARY

Fiat 500X rear

Model tested: Fiat 500X Pop Star 1.4 MultiAir
Body-style: Five-door crossover
Engine / CO2: 138bhp 1,368cc, four-cylinder turbo petrol / g/km
Trim grades: Pop. Pop Star, Lounge, Cross and Cross Plus

On-road price: From £14,595. Price as tested £20,795
Warranty: 36 month / unlimited mileage (UK dealer-backed) - 24 month / unlimited mileage (Pan European manufacturer warranty)
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 3 Stars

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Fiat 500X details

Russell Bray

Author:Russell Bray
Date Updated:19th Feb 2016

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