THE FIAT 500 brought a touch of chic Italian cafe society to drivers on a budget, and the 500L proved there could be a people carrier that looked more exciting than a fridge freezer on wheels. Now Fiat is ready to release the 500X, a rival to the Nissan Qashqai in the fastest-growing car category, the crossover.
The 500X is likely to cost from £18,000 when it goes on sale here early next year, after being shown at the Paris motor show in September. The news will be warmly received by buyers searching for a crossover that looks a little less functional than some of those on offer.
Sales of 4x4s and crossovers accounted for 12% of the European market in 2013, three times the level in 2000. Fiat hopes that combining the style of the 500 hatchback with the go-anywhere hardware of the new Jeep Renegade — with which it will share its chassis — will lure customers away from its rivals.
Our computer-generated pictures, based on an official image released by Fiat, show the company has borrowed distinctive characteristics of the 500 hatch, including the rounded nose, to give it a family look. It’s a trick that has served the company well; the same approach was taken with its 500L and in Europe nearly 80,000 were bought in 2013.
Inside, digital instruments will replace analogue dials, and the car will offer seating for five.
It is expected that the range-topping versions of the 500X will feature four-wheel drive with five operating modes, and hill descent control. So whether on the M25 or tackling a rutted track to a holiday bolthole, the 500X should be capable. More affordable versions will be front-wheel drive.
The petrol engines are said to be 1.4-litre and 2.4-litre four-cylinder units, while the diesel will be a 1.6 or 2-litre. Company sources say the 500X is too heavy to use the Fiat’s TwinAir engine range.