We drove the new Fiat 500X in Turin

The second generation Fiat 500X stands proudly here in front of the administrative buildings of its 1919 Fiat Lignotto factory, a noble and unique setting for its iconic crossover…here painted in beautiful matte finished metallic light blue, officially dubbed Matt Jeans Blue 

Fiat is going from strength to strength with its elegant compact crossover, ranking in the top 5 in Europe and leader in Italy, and you have undoubtedly read our test report of the latest generation 500X with its marvelously efficient 1.0 litre “Firefly” petrol engine. We were very impressed by its mechanical refinement, its liveliness and frugality. This time we had the opportunity to try out the second “Firefly” engine in the range, notably the 1,3 liter 150 HP four cylinder version, mated to the 6 speed DCT dual clutch automatic transmission.

It proved to be also marvelously smooth and well up to the task. Power delivery was quite impressive indeed as was mechanical refinement and last but not least economy.

We stayed for the presentation in the NH Hotel, magnificently integrated in the original Lignotto factory building… full of elegance, history and character. 

We visited at this occasion also the original Lignotto Fiat factory building, and stood eye to eye with the grand and noble architectural and automotive tradition of the Turin brand. More about this in a following report soon, and early next year a specific visit to Turin and the Fiat factories will follow, not to forget the Agnelli’s art collection…

Just read on…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The Fiat engine specialists certainly upped up the ante with this version. Developed on a modular structure with 0.33 litre cylinder unit, this new engine generation is made entirely from aluminium alloy, ensuring unbeatable lightness (the three-cylinder version weighs just 93 kg), while the cylinder block, developed in partnership with Teksid has a bedplate architecture for the best combination of ride, weight and structural performance. The new four cylinder version develops not less than 270 Nm of torque.

The dashboard and instruments of the second generation 500X have also been redesigned, and gained in character and elegance… 

Direct fuel injection is used to maximize volumetric efficiency and the low inertia turbocharger is controlled by an electrically operated wastegate actuator which, combined with a supercharger module water-cooled directly in the intake manifold, ensures a faster transient response and very swift acceleration. The figures clearly show this. What to say of an acceleration from 0 to 100 in merely 9,1 seconds for this 150 HP unit. The DCT transmission proved to be not only utterly efficient and alert, but also demonstrated uncanny smoothness throughout.

This was also helped by the freely revving 1,3 liter four cylinder engine, which was also exempt front any vibrations. Indeed it was the overall refinement of the drive train which impressed us most. This was proven when we inadvertently pushed the steering wheel gear change paddles one notch more than we intended approaching a roundabout, provoking a downchange from fourth to second gear. We were surprised to see the revs shoot up from 2 to 5.000 rpm, without the slightest jerkiness and vibration from engine or gearbox.

The photos in this report have been taken by our formidable and faithful Canon G9 X, which we won at a Fiat organized photo contest at the presentation of the Fiat 500 Canon edition… a few years back! This photo is then shot with our Huawei LYO-LO1, at 707 ISO, F 2.0 and 1/17 s, in our hotel room, so a slight blur is noticeable. 

Needless to say that adopting a sporting driving style proved to be an unspoilt pleasure. But also pottering along in urban slow moving traffic was something the 500X took very well in its stride. With such a willing engine and alert drivetrain, fuel economy for this unit depends of course very much on your driving style. The manufacturer quotes around 6,5 liters/100 km for the combined cycle and maximum 146 g/km in CO2 emissions, depending on tire type and size, amongst others. Of course, high speed properties and ride are excellent, and don’t forget, the top speed is not less than 200 km/h.

Another state of the art innovation feature in the new FireFly Turbo engines is the introduction of the third generation of the exclusive MultiAir technology (called MultiAir III), which further optimises combustion efficiency through continual control of intake valve opening and timing: thanks to the specific intake and exhaust cam profiles, this improves low load efficiency by recycling exhaust gas through advance opening of the intake valves. When higher power is required, the MultiAir III technology reduces the real compression ratio by delaying valve closure, controlling knock and substantially improving fuel efficiency even at the highest loads.

Efficient Diesels

The New 500X can be equipped with the three turbo diesel engines with MultiJet II – a technology developed and patented by FCA – now upgraded with SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) to comply with the Euro 6/D-TEMP standard.

In our hotel room, a large poster shows the 1919 Fiat 501, and tells us that the design and construction works of the Lignotto factory started in 1916, under the supervision of the architect and designer Giacomo Matté-Trucco… 

There are three displacements available: 1.3, 1.6 and 2.0 litres. Specifically, the 95 HP 1.3 MultiJet II engine is combined with manual transmission and front-wheel drive, the 120 HP 1.6 MultiJet II turbo diesel can be teamed with six-speed manual or automatic dual clutch DCT transmission, with front wheel drive, while the 150 HP 2.0 MultiJet II powerplant has a nine-speed automatic transmission and four-wheel drive. To maximise efficiency, all Diesel engines feature a new system which combines, in a single unit, SCR with AdBlue* injection to cut nitrogen (NOx) emission and DPF (Diesel Particulate Filter) to trap and reduce PM (particulate matter). We will soon lay our hands on a Diesel engine version, and tell you more about it.

Driving assistance systems standard…

Interestingly, two new systems are offered as standards equipment on all versions. They are Traffic Sign Recognition which reads road signs and Speed Advisor, allowing drivers to adapt the running speed to the signs read along the way to prevent breaking the speed limit. Lane Assist, which is the automatic lane departure warning system, is also standard, while optional equipment includes Blind Spot Alert, Safety Distance Manager (ACC), which adapts the speed of the car to that of the traffic and the distance from the vehicle ahead, in addition to Autonomous Emergency Brake.

Assisting the excellent navigation system of our 500X was a magnificent and detailed roadbook for our test drive in the Turin surroundings…

The UconnectTM 7″ HD LIVE system, the next-generation UconnectTM system with high-resolution 7-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth hands-free interface, audio streaming, text reader and voice recognition function, Aux and USB ports with iPod integration and controls on the steering wheel, is supplied as standard equipment. It was indeed a delight to use on our test drive. Furthermore, users will always be connected with the UconnectTM LIVE services.

By downloading the free UconnectTM LIVE app from the App Store or Google Play Store to your smartphone, you can fully exploit the benefits of UconnectTM LIVE, which includes music streaming with Deezer and TuneIn, news from Reuters and connected navigation with TomTom LIVE, and can keep in touch with friends via Facebook Check-in and Twitter.

Finally, eco:Drive and my:Car ensure that customers can monitor their driving style to improve the economy and running costs of their car, wherever they want to go, as we told already in our previous report.

The 500 X tailored exclusively to you…

We just love the 500 typical rounded curves and impeccable proportions of this 500X, and just know that the range comprises three versions, namely the New 500X Urban, the most metropolitan interpretation of the Fiat model.

Then there is the New 500X City Cross to break free from everyday traffic and the New 500X Cross, the top-of-the-range trim level built for those out-of-town adventures even on snow or dirt roads.

Our test car came in a stunning matte finished metallic light blue, officially dubbed Matt Jeans Blue, and which we found suited the car very well indeed, as the photos show.

Return to the Fiat birthplace at Lignotto…

The dynamic PR people of FCA Automobiles Belgium had invited us for the presentation to the Lignotto hotel, which is housed in the building of the original 1919 Fiat Lignotto factory; a unique masterpiece of architecture, which truly stands out and has weathered beautifully the test of time;

The restaurant room is adorned with a large photo of the oval test track on the rooftop of the Lignotto factory building… which we visited of course (see photo below)… 

We will come back with a separate report about the beautiful hotel and the factory building, which houses the Pinacotheca Giovanni and Agnelli, the formidable art collection of “l’avvocato” Giovanni Agnelli.

On the rooftop, on the fourth floor of this building, we could have a walk on the historic oval test track, where the Fiat cars run their first meters, coming straight of the assembly line… But more about this later!

Hans Knol ten Bensel