Peter Anderson has put Fiat’s compact SUV, the 500X through the urban grind, and finds the mid-spec Popstar variant on-song in some areas, but leaving the audience wanting more in others. Stand-out cheeky looks and impressive space-efficiency are offset by unconvincing dynamics and a surprisingly large price tag.

There are times in this business where you scratch your head so hard you wear the skin through to the bone. The subject of today's graphic metaphor is Fiat's mini-SUV, the 500X. The inflated Cinquecento is priced from $26,000 which isn't a terrible price but once you hit Popstar spec, it's already at a slightly vertigo-inducing $32,000. That seems like a lot.

The story doesn't end there, though, because a dive into the spec sheet yields some surprises that might - or might not - justify this brave figure. You have to remember, this segment has expanded at roughly the speed of light since the 500X's inception, with incoming product from Ford, Holden, Renault and Mazda, not to mention Audi's forthcoming Q2. There's a lot going on and, to make life harder, the next size up can be had for the same price from Hyundai, Kia and Volkswagen if you don't mind slumming it a bit on the spec sheet.