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Style and substance: Fiat 500X gets tech-driven upgrade

 

Fiat's 500X, a mix of the famously funky city car and a larger crossover-style vehicle, has received a model update for 2018.

What's new?

The Fiat 500X was the Italian brand's first venture into crossover territory.

By taking its chic 500 city car and blending it to the underpinnings of a larger car - the same platform used for stablemate the Jeep Renegade - it created a stylish yet practical small crossover car (i.e. it 'crosses over' from small hatchback segment into to small SUV territory.)

It could easily have been bungled, but instead Fiat pulled it off and the 500X is a family-friendly option for those who value style as well as substance.

New for 2018, the 500X has had a significant refresh which involves a more appealing new look and the addition of extensive new technology.

So it's now technologically smart as well as good-looking. Plus the range has been simplified.

Looks and image

The retro looks of the 500 - which was a smash hit for Fiat - were carried across to the 500X despite the significantly bigger size of the crossover.

It now comes in two styles, the 'Urban Look' and 'Cross Look', and there's a funky slider on the Fiat website to let you see the subtle differences.

Personally, I prefer Cross, which is slightly more rugged, with a mode selector on 4x4 versions to help with different terrains.

That said, most drivers will probably plump for the 2WD models; they're capable, efficient and if you're not planning any mud-plugging or off-roading they'll suit your lifestyle.

Cabin and trim levels

The cabin has been refreshed, although it's not a million miles away from the previous look, which was a nice mixture of the retro and the new.

The range has been simplified, with Pop, Pop Star and Lounge competing with Cross and City Cross variants

The comprehensive standard equipment levels can be boosted with the addition of a number of packs, such as the Cold Weather pack, which comes with a heated steering wheel, heated front seats and heated wiper area, or the City pack to add electrically folding and heated door mirrors and rear parking camera.

Under the bonnet

You'll find a good range of engine choices under the bonnet. Fiat are leaders in building efficient powerplants not least with their TwinAir and MultiAir engines.

The petrols come with two three choices including a 109bhp 1.6-litre E-torQ and a 138bhp 1.4-litre Turbo MultiAir2 powerplant.

If diesel is your preference - you'll need to be doing higher mileage to make it pay, mind - the 118bhp 1.6-litre MultiJet II is a good choice for 2WD. Even better, the 138bhp 2.0-litre MultiJet II comes with the 4WD version.

Efficiency and emissions in the less-powerful engines are very good: the 1.6-litre diesel will officially give you 68.9mpg, although like any official figure it you'll struggle to replicate this in real world conditions. The 1.4-litre MultiAir II Turbo will officially return 41.7mpg.

Tech and safety

The updated car offers next-generation Uconnect - Fiats' live infotainment system - with 7-inch high-resolution touchscreen, from the Pop Star trim level up.

The system offers key features including Bluetooth interface with hands-free system, audio streaming, text message reader and voice recognition.

The Uconnect system is also available with Apple CarPlay to integrate the iPhone with the display and native controls of the car, allowing the driver to make calls, play music, send and receive messages, get directions optimised for traffic conditions and much more.

For Android phone users, Android Auto offers access to Google Maps, with voice-guided navigation, real time traffic information and lane guidance, and Google Play Music, among other music services.

These functions allow drivers to make and receive calls and send messages while remaining focused on the road ahead.

Prices

The Fiat 500X range is available from £15,550 for the entry-level Pop 1.6 E-Torq to £25,250 for a Cross Plus 2.0 MultiJet 140hp AWD (all-wheel drive).

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