We drove the new Fiat 500X Sport: Dynamic Gran Turismo pleasure…

We already told you, dear reader, in our “teaser” about our venue to the “Luigi Ridolfi” Federal Technical Centre in Coverciano (FIorence), to have a stint at the wheel of the new Fiat 500X Sport.

The 500 X is the most global model of the Fiat range. This iconic compact crossover is designed and engineered in Italy and built in the FCA factory in Melfi. It was launched in 2014, but has lost none of its appeal, as it has been renewed last year. Now the 500 X accentuates sportsmanship, and emerges as an alternative to compact C-segment cars with a sporty look.

Does it live up to its promises on the open road?

Just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The 500 X Sport was presented at the “Luigi Ridolfi” Federal Technical Centre in Coverciano (FIorence), the home of Italian Football…

Focused suspension tuning…

The engineers concentrated on driving dynamics, steering precision and suspension. Of course, it also needs the corresponding looks, and sporting design elements were added, plus last but not least the new exclusive Red Seduction livery, which is seen here on our photos.

The suspension is lowered by 13 mm and optionally new 225/40 tyres with sports-level performance and 19” alloy wheels with a special design are available. But there is more of course. For example, the steering system calibration has been adjusted to return a more precise and reactive feedback to the driver.

Also specific adjustments of the shock absorbers and the front and rear suspensions – using FSD (Frequency Selective Damping) technology – mean that the 150 HP Sport 500X guarantees greater road holding, even at high speeds, as well as extraordinary manoeuvrability and total safety… all without compromising comfort.

So Fiat claims, and we were indeed convinced during the brief test drive along the winding country roads around Firenze. We found the 500 X Sport coping admirably with all the power, and this Cinquecento X could be thrown with spirit and verve around tight as well as long, fast bends. The suspension was never harsh despite some nasty potholes, indeed the suspension remained outright comfortable, the steering precise enough to make you a better driver.

Fiat says also that thanks to all these technical features and its 19” sports tires, the gritty 500X Sport 1.3 FireFly 150 HP DCT generates an 8% increase in lateral acceleration – compared to the 500X Cross with equal engine and 18″ tires. The new suspension tuning enhances responsiveness at curve entry, reducing understeer by 26%, and oversteer, in extreme conditions, by 17%.

It doesn’t have the outright sporting panache of an Abarth, and it is never meant to be. This is a sporting Gran Turismo, with all its inherent good qualities.

Marvellous engine

Indeed, a dynamic 1.3 FireFly Turbo 150 HP, combined with a DCT automatic transmission was chosen for the drivetrain of our test car, and it proved smooth and willing. The DCT transmission matches well with the engine’s characteristics, and we had the impression that the harder and more spirited one drove it, the better things went.

At slow speeds and smaller throttle openings, the transmission will keep revs as low as possible, and with a very sensitive right foot one not only gets smooth progress, you also chalk up those magical lower consumption figures. But the eagerness of the engine and the very responsive transmission makes this harder to do, as the sporting character of this 500 X gets the better of you, most of the time… Fiat quotes 6.1 – 6.5 l/100 km in the combined cycle, urban cycle is 7,4 l/100 km.

We spoke in earlier occasions about the stunning cleverness of this new generation of FireFly engines, and their economical performance depends greatly on your driving style.

They rev up beautifully with a well sounding, never obtrusive roar, develop excellent pulling power throughout the rev range, and are as good as petrol engines nowadays can be. Top power is delivered between 4 and 6.000 rpm, as it then hovers between 140 and 150 hp. But at 3000 rpm the engine delivers already 110 HP. Maximum torque is delivered anything between 1800 and 4.000 rpm, with 70 Hp already available at 2000 rpm. Outright performance leaves nothing to be desired: 0 to 100 km/h is reached in 9,1 seconds, top speed is 200 km/h.

Suffice to say that the new 500X Sport can be equipped with all the engines in the range, combined with front-wheel drive. Two FireFly Turbo petrol engines are available: a 1.0 with 120 HP and six-speed manual gearbox and the mentioned 1.3 with 150 HP with the six-speed DCT dual-clutch automatic transmission, which can also be commanded with shift paddles at the steering wheel. Also available are two Multijet turbo-diesels: a 1.3 with 95 HP combined with a five-speed manual transmission and a 1.6 with 120 HP and six-speed manual transmission or an automatic dual-clutch DCT six-speed gearbox.

Sporting also for the eye…

The special red “team kit” is embellished with a long series of titanium grey details on the handles, specially designed inserts on the front bumper, the front moulding, the rear-view mirror caps and the door handle with the “500” logo in a refined Myron treatment. The side skirts are standard, as well as the diffuser-style rear bumper.

There is the dual chrome exhaust – designed exclusively for this Fiat model – and the Full LED lighting systems that provide 160% more power than halogens but with reduced energy consumption. The Full LED headlights are coupled with LED fog lamps. In addition to the exclusive Red Seduction colour, other livery options include Gelato White, Moda Grey and Italian Blue (all of which can be combined with a black roof for a suggestive two-tone exterior), plus “Cinema Black.” By the end of the year, new 19-inch wheels will be available, with a sporty look developed by Mopar… just look at the photo we took.

They are distinguished by their personalisation possibilities: each wheel, for instance, can accommodate a set of 5 possible inserts – in the colours Matte Bronze, Miron, Dark Miron, Copper and Titanium. These can also be mounted by the customer or by the dealer thanks to a simple clip (a visit to the dealer is only required for disassembly).

The instruments have specific TFT graphics, there is the techno-leather sports steering wheel, cut underneath. On request, you can equip your 500X Sport with a precious Alcantara covering for the sporty silhouetted steering wheel and the instrument panel cover, a touch of sporting elegance unique in this segment, featuring hand-crafted red stitching.

The interior is completed by new exclusive seats in black fabric with vinyl inserts and a grey “500” logo, the black vinyl bezel and special stitching in grey and red. On request, however, you can have the seats upholstered in black leather with titanium grey finishing, in addition to the sporty aluminium pedals and the front mats with personalised stitching.

Of course there are the usual driving aids, like “Traffic Sign Recognition”, “Speed Advisor” and “Lane Assist”. Standard is the Uconnect 7” system, with satellite navigator, predisposed for Apple CarPlay and with Android Auto compatibility.

Last but not least, simultaneously with the debut of the 500X Sport, the new Sport version of the 500L also makes its debut…

We let you enjoy the photos, and treat you soon to further interviews, as we announced earlier, with Charles Fuster, the product marketing manager of the 500 X, and Alessandro Grosso, Head of Fleet and Business Sales, EMEA.

Stay tuned!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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