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Fiat 500X 2018 review: Special Edition

EXPERT RATING
6.6
With more SUV choices than ever before, does the Fiat 500X have what it takes to climb the Australian sales charts?

Compact SUV buyers are probably the most spoilt for choice. We've got products from South Korea, Japan, the USA, Germany, Britain, China (yep, MG is Chinese now), France and Italy.

Yet Fiat's 500X isn't generally on the shopping list, partly because if you see one, you're probably in denial that it isn't the tiny Cinquecento. Obviously it isn't. Longer, wider and, apart from the Fiat badge, it's almost completely unrelated to the fun-loving two door with which it shares its name. In fact, it's more closely related to the Jeep Renegade.

Look, it's complicated...

Fiat 500X 2018: Special Edition
Safety rating
Engine Type
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency5.7L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price fromNo recent listings

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   6/10

The 500X has been with us a few years now - I drove one 18 months ago - but 2018 has seen a much-needed rationalisation of the line-up. It's now down to two spec levels (the Pop and Pop Star) but to celebrate, there is also the Special Edition.

The $32,990 SE is based on the $29,990 Pop Star but Fiat says it has $5500 of extras for a $3000 outlay. The car arrives with 17-inch alloys, six-speaker Beat-branded stereo, dual-zone climate control, reversing camera, keyless entry and start, an impressive safety package, active cruise control, sat nav, auto headlights and wipers, leather trim, electric front seats and a space-saver spare.

The Special Edition comes with 17-inch alloy wheels. (image credit: Peter Anderson) The Special Edition comes with 17-inch alloy wheels. (image credit: Peter Anderson)

The Beats-branded stereo is powered by FCA's UConnect on a 7.0-inch touchscreen. The system offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Bafflingly, CarPlay is rendered in a small red frame, making the icons infuriatingly small. Rather smacks of grasping defeat from the jaws of victory. Android Auto properly fills the screen.

The Beats-branded stereo is powered by FCA's UConnect on a 7.0-inch touchscreen. (image credit: Peter Anderson) The Beats-branded stereo is powered by FCA's UConnect on a 7.0-inch touchscreen. (image credit: Peter Anderson)

UConnect itself is better than it used to be and is found in everything from a Fiat 500, the 500X's twin-under-the-skin Jeep Renegade, to Maseratis. It's far better than it used to be but here in the 500X is a bit fiddly because the screen area is quite small.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   7/10

The exterior is the work of Fiat's Centro Stile and is clearly based on the themes of the 500. Ironically, the headlights look a lot like those of the original Mini Countryman, another design based on a successful reboot by Frank Stephenson. It's not a bad job, the 500X retaining much of the 500's cheeky cheeriness. but it does look a bit like Elvis in his later years in places.

The inside is heavily influenced by the Fiat 500, too, with the band of colour across the dash and those familiar buttons. The climate control settings are unexpectedly classy and the three-dial dash adds a bit of maturity to the cabin. The fat steering wheel is also flat at the bottom, but probably a touch too chunky for my hands (and no, I don't possess a tiny set of Trump claws). The white piping on the seats is super retro and cool.

How practical is the space inside?   7/10

Being a compact SUV, space is at a premium, but the 500X pulls off a pretty good impression of a comfortable four-seater. Being so upright, passengers sit high in the cabin, meaning legroom works out okay, with rear seat dwellers able to push their feet under the front seat.

  • The 500X pulls off a pretty good impression of a comfortable four-seater. (image credit: Peter Anderson) The 500X pulls off a pretty good impression of a comfortable four-seater. (image credit: Peter Anderson)
  • Legroom works out okay, with rear seat dwellers able to push their feet under the front seat. (image credit: Peter Anderson) Legroom works out okay, with rear seat dwellers able to push their feet under the front seat. (image credit: Peter Anderson)

It's quite small at 4.25 metres but the turning circle is a bit big at 11.1 metres. Boot space starts at a Mazda CX-3-smashing 350 litres, and it's likely that with the seats down, you can expect 1000-plus litres. The front passenger seat also folds forward to allow for longer items.

With the rear seats down, there's 1000-plus litres of boot space. (image credit: Peter Anderson) With the rear seats down, there's 1000-plus litres of boot space. (image credit: Peter Anderson)

The cupholder count is four, an improvement over the last car I drove. The rear seat passengers have to make do with small bottle holders in their doors while larger bottles will fit up front.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   7/10

The engine under the bonnet is Fiat's famous and fabulous 'MultiAir2'. A 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbo, it produces 103kW/230Nm. The front wheels receive power through a six-speed dual-clutch auto transmission.

The 'MultiAir2'. A 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbo, produces 103kW/230Nm. (image credit: Peter Anderson) The 'MultiAir2'. A 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbo, produces 103kW/230Nm. (image credit: Peter Anderson)

Fiat says you can tow a 1200kg braked trailer and 600kg unbraked.

How much fuel does it consume?   6/10

Official combined cycle figures set the 500X's combined consumption at 7.0L/100km. Somehow we only managed 11.4L/100km in our week with the car, so that's a solid miss.

What's it like to drive?   6/10

There must be something about the short-wide platform on which the 500X is built; neither the 500X or the Renegade is much fun to drive. The 500X is lower and more planted, but under about 60km/h the ride is very busy and a bit choppy on broken surfaces. Which is the exact opposite of my experience in 2016.

The slow-witted transmission doesn't help matters and I couldn't help wondering if the engine is in search of a good transmission and chassis combination. Once you're up and running, though, it's quiet and composed, the bouncy ride sorting itself out with speed. If you can find some space in traffic or you're on the freeway, the 500X holds station at easily and there's even a bit of torque for overtaking. 

It's not a car that encourages having too much fun, though, which is a shame because it looks like it should.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

3 years / 150,000 km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   8/10

The 500X really shines here as it's packed with safety features. Starting with seven airbags and the usual traction and stability systems, Fiat adds forward-collision warning, forward AEB, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keep assist and lane-departure warning

There are two ISOFIX points and three top-tether anchors for baby seats. The 500X scored five ANCAP stars in December 2016.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   6/10

Fiat offers a three year/150,000km warranty, along with roadside assist for the same period. Service intervals arrive once a year or 15,000km. There is no fixed or capped-price servicing program for the 500X.

Its sister car, the Renegade, is also made in Italy and scores a five-year warranty and five-year capped-price servicing regime. Just so you know.

Verdict

The Fiat 500X isn't a great car but I find myself drawn to its looks and personality. For the same money there are a ton of more advanced choices from all over the world, so it's going to come down to a choice of the heart.

I think Fiat knows that, too. Like that fellow purveyor of quirkiness, Citroen, nobody in Turin is pretending this car is a world-beater. If you do choose it, you're making an individual choice and you're getting a good safety package into the bargain. I can't help thinking the Special Edition is stretching things a little far, though.

Is the 500X Special Edition special enough to have you heading to a Fiat dealership? Tell us in the comments below.

Pricing Guides

$28,443
Based on 27 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$21,989
Highest Price
$34,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
AMLFI EDITION 1.4L, PULP, 6 SP DUAL-CLUTCH AUTO $25,080 – 31,020 2018 FIAT 500X 2018 AMLFI EDITION Pricing and Specs
Cross Plus 1.4L, PULP, 9 SP AUTO $25,190 – 31,130 2018 FIAT 500X 2018 Cross Plus Pricing and Specs
LAUNCH EDITION 1.4L, PULP, 6 SP DUAL-CLUTCH AUTO $22,770 – 28,160 2018 FIAT 500X 2018 LAUNCH EDITION Pricing and Specs
Lounge 1.4L, PULP, 9 SP AUTO $25,520 – 31,570 2018 FIAT 500X 2018 Lounge Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
6.6
Price and features6
Design7
Practicality7
Engine & trans7
Fuel consumption6
Driving6
Safety8
Ownership6
Peter Anderson
Contributing journalist

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Pricing Guide

$32,990

Lowest price, based on new car retail price

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