Not so long ago we tested the Fiat 500L. It’s slightly smaller but more stylish sibling the Fiat 500X, landed on South African shores. Heir to the Fiat 500 of 1957, it is  now a bit bigger and a lot smarter than it’s distant brother. The 500 X- has come a long way considering it’s a crossover model and is built off the the same platform as the Chrysler Renegade and competes within the compact SUV segment.

Built in the updated SATA plant in Melfi (Potenza) and sold in more than 100 countries worldwide, the new Fiat 500X will be available in three different versions – 500X Pop Star,  500X Cross and 500X Cross Plus. It is equipped with two efficient petrol engines – 1.4l MultiAir or 1.6l E-TorQ, three types of transmission – 5-speed manual, 6-speed manual or twin-clutch 6-speed automatic – and with front-wheel drive and the unique Traction Plus variants. This means there will be a complete 4×4 version and front wheel drive Traction Plus (limited slip differential) to complete the X range.

The feel of the 500X drive thanks to rear MacPherson suspension and smooth fast gear changes comes across as a robust package. For the size of engine derivatives on offer and it’s SUV type size I was quite impressed with the performance. It definitely exudes X-factor looks thanks to the large oval headlight eyes and rather aggressive firm footed stance. The 500X comes equipped with a “Drive Mood Selector”, which tightens up or smooths out engine, brakes, steering and transmission, depending on the driving style most appropriate to your situation or road surface conditions.  Auto is for the best in terms of comfort, consumption,  Sport for a drive that favors performance, and “All Weather” maximises traction on low friction surfaces such as wet roads. “Traction” improves grip on rough and slippery terrain but is only  available on Cross and Cross Plus..

Standard on the entire range is some important content, such as six airbags, front headlights with daytime running light function and fog lights with self-adaptive cornering function. In addition to the sophisticated ESC (Electronic Stability Control) depending on the version, is the advanced Lane Assist (lane departure warning system) and Blind Spot Assist (lane change assistance system to get around blind spots). Devices are available as standard or on request. On request, it is also possible to equip your 500X with the new ParkView rear camera for reversing.

The Fiat 500X comes equipped with the sophisticated Uconnect™ systems with 5″ or 6.5″ touchscreens. Additionally, the Uconnect Radio Nav 5’’ device offers TomTom 2.5D navigation while the 6.5″ Uconnect Radio Nav features satellite navigation with 3D maps, progressive route guidance and ‘One Shot Voice Destination Entry’ to enter addresses with voice commands.

Using the colour touchscreen, the system lets you access all the main functions from the radio through to all the main multimedia sources (media player, iPod, iPhone, smartphone) which can be connected via USB port or Aux-in socket or Bluetooth audio streaming. This can all be managed directly using the steering wheel controls in order that the driver doesn’t need to look away from the road or take their hands off the wheel.

You can get your hands on this compact outside, but welcoming inside drive, starting from R344 900. Not at all a bad price when you consider how much bang you getting for your buck with what the 500X has to offer.

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