What Car? says...
The Fiat 500X SUV is the big brother of the Fiat 500 small car but, beyond the retro styling, they don’t have much in common.
The 500X is, in fact, more closely related under the skin to the Jeep Renegade and they share many of their mechanical underpinnings and oily bits. That makes the 500X a member of our small SUV class.
However, while the burly Renegade is available with four-wheel drive and is generally a little more off-road focused, Fiat doesn’t really expect you to spend all that much time off the beaten path. To that end, the 500X is only available with front-wheel drive and doesn’t come with any fancy dirt-focused driving modes.
To make life easy, the engine range is simple, consisting of two turbocharged petrols. The difference? Well, one of them has been combined with a 48V mild-hybrid system to increase fuel efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions. The 500X and the Fiat Tipo (which now comes as a hybrid too) are the last cars in Fiat’s range to get electrification.
On top of that, there’s a choice of four different trim levels to choose from and plenty of room for customisation inside and out. That said, we reckon many buyers will be drawn in by the cutesy looks – which undoubtedly stand out in the class – more than the engine and trim choices.
So is the Fiat 500X all style and no substance, or is this a small SUV that you can buy with your head as well as your heart?
Well, over the next few pages of this review, we'll tell you exactly how good it is for performance, interior quality, running costs and in other areas, and how it compares with the rival cars it’s up against. They include the Ford Puma, Seat Arona and Volkswagen T-Roc. We’ll also explain which engines and trims we think are the best.
Whichever make and model you decide is right for you, we can help you get excellent deals on this and hundreds of other cars with our free and easy to use What Car? New Car Buying service. It's a good place to find the best new small SUV deals.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
To kick off the Fiat 500X’s engine range, your first option is a 118bhp three-cylinder 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, called the FireFly Turbo 1.0 120, which is available only with a manual gearbox and covers a 0-62mph sprint in an adequate 10.9sec. That’s more or less on a par with the 1.0 TSI in the entry-level Volkswagen T-Roc and should be enough power for most situations.
If you want a little more get up and go, the only other option is the 1.5 FireFly Turbo T4 48V mild hybrid. That gives you 128bhp to play with and reduces the 0-62mph sprint to 9.4sec, faster than the Ford Puma 1.0-litre Ecoboost 125. It’s just a shame that the standard seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox is frustratingly slow to drop down a few gears when you ask for a sudden burst of power to take advantage of a gap in traffic.
Unlike the Puma, the mild-hybrid 500X can run solely on electricity for short periods of time. However, it only really works when you’re crawling along in traffic. The engine bursts back into life when you turn on the air conditioning or do anything more than tickle the accelerator.
Suspension and ride comfort
On urban roads, you’ll find that the 500X’s ride comfort is pretty good, especially if you stick with the standard-fit 16in alloy wheels. With those equipped, it smooths over big bumps and stays fairly settled over patched-up surfaces. The bigger wheels that come with higher trim levels – or as standard with the hybrid engine – make it more sensitive to poor town roads, but it’s still nothing that will be too uncomfortable when heading through town.
The high-speed ride is not so good because the 500X becomes a bit fidgety and prone to lurching about over mid-corner bumps and undulations, swaying you around in the process. Sport trim gives the car lowered and stiffened suspension, and while it’s not what you’d call uncomfortable, it has a firmer edge to it than in other trim levels.
Even so, if you drive a lot or comfort is high on your list of priorities, we’d suggest turning your attention to the Skoda Kamiq and the T-Roc, both of which are better controlled and more comfortable overall.
Looking for a car that's fun on a twisty road? The Fiat 500X might not be for you, because in most trim levels it leans noticeably through corners. The firmer suspension of Sport trim reduces the effect a little, but the Puma has more controlled body movements that make it much more engaging for an enthusiastic driver.
There's decent grip, but the vague steering robs you of confidence and will stop you wanting to push the car hard in corners. Even with Sport trim’s slightly weightier feel, there’s very little sense of connection to what the front wheels are doing. The Puma and Seat Arona are light years ahead in that respect.
That said, the lightness of the 500X's steering becomes a virtue around town, where twirling the wheel to get into tight parking spaces is made easy.
Noise and vibration
The 500X's petrol engines can be quite boomy compared with rivals', and you can feel some vibrations through your feet on the pedals.
Once you’re on a motorway, the engines settle down and wind noise is mostly well contained, but there's a fair amount of road roar on coarse surfaces. The impressive T-Roc is more hushed overall.
The manual gearbox has a long throw and its action is too light, but we’d still take it over the dual-clutch automatic. With slow shifts under hard acceleration and some jerkiness at low speeds, it makes it a real challenge to drive smoothly.
The interior layout, fit and finish
Driving position and dashboard
The Fiat 500X's steering wheel adjusts for rake and reach, the pedals are placed neatly in line with the driver’s seat and there is even a decent range of seat-height adjustment. It’s not easy to get the right angle on the backrest, though, because you adjust it using a lever while leaning backwards or forwards rather than with a handy wheel, as you do in most rivals.
The seats are comfortable enough, even on longer journeys, and electrically adjustable lumbar support and a central armrest are available as part of the reasonably priced Comfort Pack, which is definitely worth adding. Fully electric seat adjustment is also optional.
Generally speaking, the 500X's dashboard buttons are well placed and easy to read. We like the fact that Fiat gives you physical air-conditioning controls, rather than the fiddly digital buttons built into the touchscreens of some rivals.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
As you'd expect with a small SUV the Fiat 500X places you quite high up, even on lowered Sport models. That gives you a good view forwards, although the chunky front pillars can limit your view through really tight bends. Rear visibility is mostly fine, but there are over-the-shoulder blind-spots that you’ll need to be conscious of during lane changes. Blind-spot monitoring is optional on all trims except entry-level Club.
The fairly high boot line means that reverse parking can be a bit of a challenge, and that's not helped by the fact that you can’t have parking sensors with any version of the 500X. If you want a rear-view camera, you need to go for at least Cross trim or option the pricey Driver Assistance Pack on lower trims.
A heated windscreen is available as part of the Winter Pack. Speaking of winter, when it gets dark earlier, bright LED headlights are standard on Sport trim and available as an option with Club, Cross and Red trim.
Sat nav and infotainment
Regardless of trim level, all 500X models have a 7.0in touchscreen infotainment system with a DAB radio, Bluetooth and two USB ports. Avoid the entry-level Club trim and you’ll add built-in sat-nav to that list too.
Crucially, though, you get Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring as standard on all trims. That lets you use Google Maps, Waze and other apps that are on your smartphone through the car's central screen.
Unfortunately, the infotainment set-up is not very well designed. The icons are too small to hit easily on the move and it can also be frustratingly slow to respond to inputs. In its defence, the menus are fairly intuitive, but overall it lags behind the systems offered with the Kia Stonic and Seat Arona.
With a bright layout and plenty of retro hues (borrowed from the original Fiat 500 city car) the 500X’s interior is striking to look at. We particularly like the Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel on Sport models.
However, it doesn’t take long before you start to notice plenty of hard and scratchy plastics dotted around. The rear door cards, for example, are formed out of one piece of black plastic and there are a few sharp edges around the seat adjustments.
Overall, the 500X feels better screwed together inside than the Jeep Renegade it's related to. The Audi Q2 and Peugeot 2008 are quite simply in a different league, though, with interiors that feature plenty of soft-touch plastics and beautifully damped buttons.
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
The front seats in the Fiat 500X slide a long way back if you need them to, giving more leg room than in some rivals, and the high roof means tall occupants will still have room to spare. Somewhat less impressive, though, is the cramped pedal area that gives you very little space for your left foot.
In terms of storage, Fiat gives you plenty of cubbies dotted around the 500X’s interior, with two cupholders between the front seats, a large shallow dish just ahead of the gear lever (ideal for a phone) and a chilled glovebox that's standard on all models.
If you add the Comfort Pack, with its front centre armrest, you get another shallow storage area. The door bins are big enough to store a litre bottle.
There’s plenty of head and leg room in the back of the Fiat 500X, but the angle of the rear seats forces you to sit almost bolt upright. This makes longer journeys uncomfortable and means the heads of taller adults are quite close to the roof.
The car is narrower than rival small SUVs so three adults sitting side by side will feel rather cosy. You can have a third central headrest in the back of the 500X as part of the optional Comfort Pack.
The door bins in the back are quite small but will each hold a 500ml drinks bottle, and you get two document pockets on the back of the front seats as standard. Access is good, thanks to the high roofline and doors that open to almost 90 degrees, so ducking in to access child seats is easy.
Seat folding and flexibility
Every 500X comes with rear seats that are split 60/40 and fold almost flat when you release the lock on their outer shoulders. It’s a shame there are no extra party tricks in terms of flexibility – like the sliding rear seats in the Citroen C3 Aircross for example – but it will still do the job nicely for general family use.
If you opt for the Electric Pack, you get an electrically adjustable passenger seat, while the Comfort Pack adds a height-adjustable front passenger seat.
The 500X doesn't have the biggest boot in the class and most rivals have larger official capacities. It will happily take a set of golf clubs or a buggy, though.
It’s not as easy to load as some cars. There’s a step down to the boot floor over the lip and another up to the folded seat back if you flatten the rear seats.
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2
The Fiat 500X is towards the expensive end of the small SUV market, especially if you opt for the hybrid variant. Discounts are usually available, so it’s always worth checking our Fiat 500X deals page for the best savings.
While the 500X will cost about the same as a Seat Arona or Skoda Kamiq to buy, it’s predicted to suffer more depreciation over three years – something worth bearing in mind if you’re buying outright. There are often special offers with PCP finance deals, making the monthly payments more affordable.
If you’re a company car driver looking to keep your benefit-in-kind tax payments down, you’ll want to go for the mild-hybrid variant because it offers the lowest CO2 emissions in the range. That version is also the most fuel-efficient, officially managing 49.6mpg. That's a respectable figure, although it can’t match the 53.3mpg you can officially get from the Hyundai Bayon 1.0 T-GDi 48V 120PS.
Equipment, options and extras
There are four main 500X trim levels to choose from: Club, Cross, Red and Sport. Entry-level Club has 16in alloy wheels, manual air conditioning, the 7.0in infotainment system and cruise control.
We'd go up to Cross trim, which adds 17in alloys, a couple of extra USB ports and LED daytime running lights, and lets you tick the 'AEB' box on the options list. Red adds some unique styling features, while range-topping Sport gets slightly sportier styling inside and out.
If you want your 500X to be a mild hybrid, you’ll have to opt for Cross, Red or Sport trim, but there’s a hefty jump in price, so you’ll have to seriously weigh up whether you really need the added efficiency.
Fiat came bottom (30th place out of the 30 manufacturers rated) in our 2021 What Car? Reliability Survey. We don’t yet have any data for the 500X specifically.
Fiat gives you a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty as standard. The third year of that is provided by the dealer, rather than the car maker itself, although that shouldn’t affect what’s covered or how any complaints are dealt with.
That's a reasonably good warranty, although there are rivals with longer cover, including the Kia Stonic with its class-leading seven years. Fiat also gives you one year of European roadside assistance as standard.
Safety and security
The Fiat 500X holds a four-star (out of five) Euro NCAP safety rating, but testing has become far more stringent since it was put through its paces. The model offers a lower level of crash protection than rivals, especially for adult occupant protection, and the Seat Arona and Volkswagen T-Roc do much better.
If you want automatic emergency braking (AEB) – which we consider an important safety feature – you either have to go for the mild-hybrid engine or add it as an option. It's not available at all (even as an option) if you go for the 1.0-litre engine with entry-level Club trim.
The 500X does come with six airbags, tyre-pressure monitoring, lane-keeping assistance, traffic-sign recognition and a speed-limit adviser as standard, plus the usual traction and stability controls. You’ll have to pay extra for an alarm, though, which is something you’d expect as standard on any new car.
RRP price range|
£29,975 - £32,625|
Number of trims (see all)|
Number of engines (see all)|
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)|
MPG range across all versions|
49.5 - 49.5|
Available doors options|
3 years / No mileage cap|
Company car tax at 20% (min/max)|
£1,783 / £1,877|
Company car tax at 40% (min/max)|
£3,565 / £3,754|