Here's why the 2019 Fiat 500X Sport is all the car you could ever need
I've been a fan of the 500X since it came out in 2014, a 'large' 500 which had decent proportions and style but also appealed to an entirely new demographic. 70% of buyers of the 500X were new to the brand, now it's in over 100 countries and is a top seller for Fiat. Families who had a 500 but wanted bigger had the 'X' or 'L' option, meaning they were no longer leaving the brand when they 'grew up'.
However, as the 'sport' crossover market grew, Fiat were totally behind the times - up until now they offered two variants of the 500X, Urban and Cross. The new 'third' Sport addition makes Fiat's input into the segment stronger than ever before. Simply, they're not only up with the rest of the market... they're kind of leading it too.
Stunning exterior styling
I've been begging FCA to make an Abarth 500X for as long as I can remember, however for whatever reason they've continually said they wouldn't make it. This 500X Sport is about as close as we're going to get currently, however that's not a bad thing. Realistically it's extremely aesthetically 'Abarth', with lovely all round design and beautifully finished 19" alloys.
The front end has typically Fiat aesthetics with lovely lines and bold edges. The new LED headlights are sleek with the DRL's offering a superbly aesthetically pleasing front end. The side profile is that of a multitude of manufacturers - almost reminding me of VW design language. Very straight edge, very 'finished' and extremely pretty to look at. The back doesn't let you down either, utilising the current '500' language in not only the light cluster but the overall lines. Front to back, this is a superb looking vehicle which is also a tiny bit lower (13mm) than the 'regular' car.
The performance isn't mind melting but isn't behind the times either
Fiat are mid-way through getting rid of their old 'Multi-Jet' engine, replacing it is a 'Firefly' named unit. For the 500X it's available in 1.0 3-cylinder and 1.3 4-cylinder - for test purposes I'll talk about the 1.3 150hp / 270Nm, 0-62 in 9.1 seconds and a top speed of over 120mph - whilst not totally wild, it's peppy for the vehicle itself. The 6-speed auto DCT gearbox is relatively smooth and offers good response when you really need it.
Underneath the 500X Sport has been somewhat re-engineered, offering better dampening response, lower ride height and sharper turning through the steering. It results in a well rounded drive which offers decent pedal feedback, nicely weighted steering and a smooth ride - all whilst you you're in interior comfort.
The interior is superbly finished and comfortable
Being a 'sport' the new 500X gets hints of performance on the inside too. Alcantara drips and drabs and a sporty instrument cluster are among some of these additions alongside a new 'sport' steering wheel. Seating wise you feel constantly comfortable, visibility is generally considerably better than many of the competitors, however the 'A' pillar does create a slight blindspot on tighter corners however.
The infotainment is easy to use, full of fun gadgets and can also link to a new app to 'keep an eye' on the condition and servicing requirements of your 500X Sport. The rest of the standard tech (including blind spot assist, forward collision mitigation, auto highbeam, cross traffic monitor etc) makes the interior seem like a lovely place to be for any amount of time. Rear legroom and headroom is decent, however it lacks a second USB port and any rear ventilation. The boot space is reasonable for a weekly shop and even long holidays - but is far from class leading.
"Why is it all I need then?"
If you're looking for crazy performance and noise, this isn't for you. However if you want a great looking crossover SUV with reasonable performance at a decent cost (£22.5k OTR base), it's all you could ever want. Aesthetically it's stunning, it's different, it's 500... and if that's what you like, you'll LOVE this. Interior wise there's little to complain about, with ample space and technology as standard.
The only slight let down for me is the performance, however not from a cornering point of view (as it hugs and smoothly throws you round a corner much better than most competitor vehicles). I'd love to have seen a 190bhp model, perhaps even a 300bhp+ model to compete with the new Mini Clubman JCW - however Fiat know their worldwide demographic extremely well and this is tailored to them.
Simply - it'll take you to the shops, the school run, the back roads, IKEA and to the South of France with ease. During the week it is practical and sensible, at the weekend it can be a fun back road blaster (no, seriously, it can) - all the while looking great and being economically frugal on a monthly basis. I'm just still praying for an Abarth 500X... pretty please.