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Fiat 500X

You've got to admire Fiat for exploiting one of its biggest assets in its 116- year history. The re-envisioned Fiat Cinquecento, or 500 as it is more commonly known, was launched to considerably praise in 2007, fifty years after the original first went on sale. Last year, more than 44,000 examples of the 500 hatchback and convertible hit the roads in the UK, and the firm is hoping that by applying the winning formula to a larger crossover-style vehicle, buyers will warm to that, too.
And there's sound reason why this will happen, as owners outgrow the diminutive city car, there's now a larger vehicle for them to migrate to. Enter the 500X, a five-door crossover vehicle sharing its underpinnings with the Jeep Renegade. It's designed to compete in the burgeoning baby-SUV category that was created by Nissan's Juke and is accounting for a larger chunk of sales year-onyear.
And in a twist, there's a pair of distinctly different styling - Pop Star and Lounge versions adopt what Fiat calls the ‘city look', while the more chunkily appointed Cross and Cross Plus models get an ‘off-road look'. From launch, a pair of 1.6- and 2.0-litre units power the 500X, with a 1.3-litre MultiJet unit joining the line-up in October. It's the 118bhp 1.6-litre engine that we test here and it makes a great companion.
Decent acceleration away from rest and perky midrange pull is helped by a super smooth and light six-speed manual gearbox. The engine is quiet in its operation and even when pushed to the upper echelons of the rev range, it doesn't feel strained. There's a noticeable amount of wind noise along the flanks, however, and the 17-inch wheels kick up a little road noise, particularly on poorer surfaces. On back roads, there's good body control, lots of grip and precise, weighty steering, and while the ride is most definitely on the firm side, providing a sometimes jiggly ride over potholes, it's composed at faster motorway speeds.
The cutesy styling cues continue to the interior of the 500X, and in our test car, the materials chosen are funky and bright. There's an air of solidity to all the fitments, even though only a smidgeon of them are of the latest soft-touch variety. The design is attractive and interesting, and the controls are mostly neatly positioned, apart from the electric park brake which is awkwardly placed between the front seats.
The prominently placed touchscreen is ideally situated high-up, with clearly labelled buttons and an intuitive interface. There's plenty of adjustment to the hugely supportive driver's seat, while an upright seating position gives an excellent view out, especially thanks to the deep windows and wide rear screen. While head and legroom is generously proportioned up front, things are a little more limited in the back, with taller passengers wishing for greater headroom, with leg and foot space merely average.
Boot space is on the small side compared to its biggest rivals, with wheelarches that intrude, though a handy underfloor tray does provides a little extra storage. With the seats in the upright position there's just 245 litres of available space and a relatively high sill to contend with, though the seats do fold down easily at the touch of a button, and split in a handy 60:40 fashion, opening the space up to 910 litres.

Model tested Pop Star 1.6 MultiJet
Price .19,095
Made in Melfi, Italy
Configuration 5-door crossover, 5-seats, front-wheel-drive
Drivetrain 1598cc, 4-cylinder, 16-valve, turbocharged diesel with stop-start
Transmission 6-speed manual
Power output 118bhp @ 3,750rpm
Maximum torque 236lb ft @ 1,750rpm
Top speed/0-62mph 115mph/10.5 secs
CO2 emissions (tax band) 109g/km (B) Euro 6
Economy (urban/extra urban/combined) 60.1/74.3/68.9mpg
Fuel tank size/range 48 litres/728 miles
Insurance group/BIK rate 13/19%
Size (length/width with mirrors) 4,248/2,025mm
Boot space (minimum/maximum) 245/910 litres
Kerb/max towing weight 1,320/1,200kg
In showrooms Now
Prices .19,095 to .25,845
Bodystyles 5-door crossover
Engines 1.6 (118bhp), 2.0 (138bhp)
Trim levels Pop Star, Lounge, Cross, Cross Plus, Opening Edition
Also consider MINI Countryman, Vauxhall Mokka

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