URBAN PUFF DADDY
The Fiat 500 is now in family-friendly gear, PAUL GOVER writes
THERE’S a lot to like about the puffed-up Fiat 500 — car I’d recommend friends.
A family-friendly sounds all wrong. The cutesy has been a youthful tiddler from day one, with barely enough room for couple of twenty-somethings and picnic even after its 21st century reinvention.
But the arrival of the puffed-up 500X changes everything, without changing anything.
It still looks and behaves like a 500, which makes you smile, but it has enough rear-seat space for regularsized adults a boot that fits more than just briefcase. It is even available with all-wheel drive, if you want.
The starting price not brilliant, from $28,000 for the manual frontwheel drive Pop, but that’s partly down to weakness of Australian dollar.
It’s considerably bigger than likes of the Mazda CX-3 and cheaper by $1500 than Jeep Renegade.
That’s heart of story, because X-car the Renegade are twins under skin, designed with same mechanical base. The two branches Fiat-Chrysler empire added their own bodywork.
The package is familiar on all fronts, from the front-drive layout to 1.4-litre MultiAir engine (103kW/230Nm) in Pop and Pop Star trim. In Lounge Cross Plus AWD, carrying extra weight higher expectations, the gets
tune (125kW/250Nm). The comes with seven airbags, cruise control and aircon and a standard reversing camera, choice of six speed manual or dualclutch auto for an extra $2000.
$33,000 Pop Star is six-speed only, but adds bigger screen with satnav, keyless entry, auto headlights and wipers, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and 17 inch alloys.
The all-wheel drive Lounge and Cross Plus step up to a nine speed auto, with topping the pricing from $39,000 with Xenon headlamps, 18-inch alloys more.
Buyers can personalise car a range of body colours, mirror caps and several types stripes.
The 500X is considerably bigger than the basic 500, reflected in its length (4.2m) boot (350L). It’s only four-star NCAP car Europe but FCA Australia aims for a fifth star with safety equipment fitted Australia.
Mini is the most obvious rival. Smaller and cheaper SUVs are selling well in but 500X is something different. Fiat does not expect many people to cross-shop the 500X Renegade because of their radically different looks.
Not until I get close, then jump inside, do I appreciate the 500X’s extra size. It is big for a little car. Into rear seat, discover fit, and it’s easy to get in and out, boot is fine — although fitting pram could be a task.
Joy of joys, for the first time there are seats that fit me. The buckets in the regular 500 are too narrow for me, without much support, but these are full-size with lots of comfort.
There is a front-and-centre infotainment screen, heightadjustable driver’s seat and decent audio setup. The cabin finishing is good for the price class.
500X easy to handle around city streets basic Pop quick enough, with an extra burst if I switch to Sports mode for turbo engine.
But the ride is very bouncy and over-sprung (something to check when I switch from front all-wheel drive). The steering responsive, the brakes effective. In the AWD, the ride is much better and more controlled but the steering is over-aggressive. So I find myself wanting from AWD car front-driver, not that it’s going to happen. can’t feel any extra power in the
but that’s a big complaint.
It gets along well enough for suburbs and some hills out of town. There is a lot to like in the 500X
it’s going suit urban families.
It’s definitely an alternative to a Mini Clubman and well priced that class.