A brace of new engines and some subtle visual updates keep the Fiat 500X relevant. It remains the best spin-off from the iconic Fiat 500 and is one of the few crossovers with real character.
In the metal
The visual updates to the Fiat 500X are part of a mid-cycle refresh that also introduces some new engines. Like the smaller, cuter Fiat 500, the crossover gets new daytime running lamps that mimic the split 0s of the supermini. At the rear are new LED light clusters as well, which feature a painted centre that matches the body colour, as per the smaller 500's style. Fiat will also offer new LED headlight units as an option on some models.
Both the 500X Urban and 500X Cross, the latter tested here, get new bumper designs. The changes are subtle and focus mainly at the lower sections, with the more rugged looks of the 500X Cross getting aluminium-look scuff plates to reinforce the image of an off-roader.
The interior also comes in for some minor changes, namely a new instrument cluster and a steering wheel that is designed to feel more comfortable in your hands. Fiat's claim that it is the most technological model it has ever made is backed up with new driver assistance systems as well as the latest seven-inch Uconnect touchscreen display that includes smartphone connectivity as standard; however, there are few places to store your device.
There are softer materials on some surfaces, like the armrest, while the painted fascia can bring a flash of colour to the otherwise dark interior. Most of the controls are chunky and intuitive to use, as before. The plastics away from the main touch points don't have the same quality, though. Several storage cubbies are dotted around the front of the cabin, but none are of any substantial size. Boot space remains unchanged at 350 litres and expands to 1,000 litres if you fold the rear seats down.
Fiat offers the updated 500X with two new petrol engines, which also feature in the closely related Jeep Renegade. The larger 1.3-litre unit comes only with an automatic transmission, while the 1.0-litre three-cylinder we're driving here is only available with a manual. With an output of 120hp, the three-cylinder feels underpowered when navigating urban streets, though for the most part, it seems happy to remain in third or fourth gear, showcasing a good amount of elasticity. While it is happy to rev freely, there isn't as much of the distinctive thrum you often find with three-cylinder engines, making it one of the more refined engines of its kind.
The ride quality is comfortable for the most part, but the 500X feels less polished than some of its rivals on rough roads. Still, Fiat has avoided going for a 'dynamic' feel by simply making the suspension overly stiff. It's clear that this car was honed on broken Italian tarmac, which should suit Irish roads just fine.
What you get for your money
There are three trim levels in the 500X range, but as the entry-level Urban spec is only available with the older 1.6-litre engine, we'll focus more on the two higher grades that get the new engines. All 500X models get more driver assistance systems than before. Traffic Sign Recognition, a speed advisor to alert you when you're over the speed limit, and Lane Assist are now standard on all models. Optionally, buyers can add blind spot detection that gives an audible and visual warning when other vehicles are alongside, adaptive cruise control and an autonomous braking feature. A seven-inch Uconnect infotainment touchscreen display will come on all models, too, featuring DAB radio, Bluetooth and USB input, and it's compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The mid-level City Cross featured here is visually differentiated by silver skid plates on the front and rear. It gets 17-inch alloy wheels, body coloured door mirrors, rear parking sensors and a 3.5-inch TFT display in the instrument cluster. A higher spec Cross adds larger 18-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, rear privacy glass, automatic headlight function, reversing camera and satnav.
The new engines do make the latest Fiat 500X that bit more enjoyable to drive, while the inclusion of more driver assistance systems is also welcome. It's not perfect, but nevertheless, we still think this is one of the more underrated crossovers currently on sale.