The ageing 500X has the very best conquest charge of any mannequin in Fiat’s comparatively restrictive mannequin vary. Round 70 per cent of consumers are new to the model, making it a particularly necessary automotive for the corporate.
It’ll due to this fact come as little shock that this new ‘Sport’ model ranks among the many agency’s most important launches for 2019. Anticipated to account for as a lot as 40 per cent of the mannequin combine, the 500X Sport is Fiat’s tackle the Peugeot 2008 GT-Line and SEAT Arona FR.
The 500X Sport does little to interrupt the mould, including valuable few mechanical modifications and focusing largely on racier styling, larger wheels and new inside trim. It’s arguably extra recognisable than its closest rivals, separating itself from the remainder of the 500X vary by way of a significant-yet-tasteful bodykit and twin exhausts.
There are whiffs of Abarth concerning the new 500X Sport’s muscular styling, although bosses insist no such mannequin is within the plan. As an alternative, Fiat will focus its attentions on the downsized FireFly petrol engines already current within the crossover vary. There are two fashions to select from; a three-cylinder 1.Zero-litre turbo mated to a handbook gearbox, and a extra highly effective four-cylinder 1.Three-litre unit – obtainable solely with a six-speed DCT auto.
Whereas the variations between the present City and Cross fashions focus primarily on aesthetics, Fiat has made a couple of modifications beneath the pores and skin. The trip peak has been lowered by 13mm, for instance, with new entrance and rear springs and distinctive tuning for the shock absorbers. The engineers have additionally tweaked the steering – claiming to scale back each understeer and oversteer by as a lot as 26 per cent.
We weren’t in a position to drive it again to again with the usual automotive, however on the transfer the 500X Sport felt sharper and extra keen to show in. The steering has a lovely weight to it; it isn’t all that communicative, however it tucks the automotive in properly and factors it the place you need to go. Physique management is ample, if a little bit uninspiring, not helped by sometimes patchy on-the-limit grip from the specifically chosen Dunlop Sport Maxx tyres.
The 148bhp 1.Three-litre FireFly engine is a identified amount, however that doesn’t cease it being a bit lazy and fairly laggy alongside its TSI-engined VW Group rivals. The auto field is reluctant to alter down in regular driving, and when you can take management by way of the miniscule steering-mounted paddles, few consumers are ever doubtless to take action. However as Fiat continues to clarify, the 500X Sport isn’t purported to be any sort of semi-skimmed Abarth; we suspect the lower-power handbook mannequin is likely to be a greater match.
We didn’t get to expertise the automotive over any actually tough or ridged roads, however our check mannequin displayed little motive to query the trip high quality – even on the non-obligatory 19-inch wheels. It’s maybe not fairly as quiet as probably the most refined automobiles on this class, nonetheless.
Anybody who has frolicked within the current 500X will really feel proper at house sitting within the driver’s seat of this newest Sport mannequin. Other than some particular stitching and gray logos, the seats are the identical, which implies you continue to sit a bit excessive and with much less assist than some drivers would possibly like. The steering wheel will get a flat backside and a few Alcantara trim, however give or take some distinctive graphics, a darker headlining and particular air vents, that’s your lot.
The seven-inch infotainment display has been vastly improved and upgraded because the 500X first launched, however it nonetheless lags behind the competitors in the case of measurement and performance. The menu structure isn’t all that intuitive, and the graphics are exhibiting their age; the brand new Skoda Kamiq shames the Fiat on this space.
UK specs are but to be finalised, however it’s doubtless that each Sport mannequin will get LED lights, cruise management, parking sensors and18-inch wheels, in addition to that seven-inch display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Personalisation will stay key to the 500 household’s enchantment, with choices more likely to embrace ambient lighting, keyless entry and additional sport-themed trim. The Alcantara steering wheel is anticipated to be customary on all UK automobiles.
After all, area within the again seats and boot is unchanged, although that darkish headlining does make it really feel a bit extra claustrophobic. It’s not probably the most sensible automotive in its class, however rising households stepping up from a B-segment supermini shouldn’t be too disenchanted.
Worth will play a giant half on this automotive’s success, and at round £1,000 greater than the equal 500X Cross we will see loads of consumers making the bounce. That’s more likely to equate to just some kilos monthly on a month-to-month PCP finance deal. For comparability, a SEAT Arona 1.Zero TSI 115 FR Sport with a equally beneficiant equipment checklist, prices round £350 lower than the entry-level 500X Sport 1.Zero 120hp. There’s no comparable Arona 1.5 TSI DSG; that mannequin is handbook solely.