The tiny Fiat 500 receives the crossover treatment and emerges as the 2016 Fiat 500X 1.4 Manual. The 500X is a larger Fiat 500 that went to the gym gaining a few hundred pounds of muscle mass and power. The compact crossover is offered in two engine variants a 1.4-liter turbo 4 for the base model, and a 2.4-liter naturally aspirated 4 cylinder for the higher end models. For this review we chose to get our hands on the 1.4 base because it’s the only trim that’s equipped with a six-speed manual; it’s a harsh reality but, manual transmissions on top end models seem to be a rare offering nowadays.
The 2016 Fiat 500X 1.4 Manual is The Ace of Base
On the outside, the base model 2016 Fiat 500X 1.4 Manual looks good, a sense of “pop” is evident all over the bodywork as it is also available with bright colored paintwork. The front fascia is reminiscent of the original 500, with a different, albeit Mini-Countryman-looking headlight design and light arrangement. The side profile is that of a mini SUV which in all respects, it really is. The base model comes with 16 inch rims that look out of place in contrast to the wheel arches. Under the hood of the base model is Fiat’s trusty 1.4-liter turbo 4 cylinder that delivers excellent low end torque that comes on at just 2500rpm. Sadly, as a base model, it doesn’t feature the all-wheel drive system of the top end but you do get a snappy six speed manual powering the front wheels.
On the inside, the base model actually has pretty good interior offerings and is far from a barren wasteland of plastic upon plastic and button coverings. The dash is livened up with a color-keyed plastic trim to make the inside pop. The interior looks like it’s not of a base model, but you do miss a large MFD display and is replaced by a normal radio and audio interface with a dot matrix LCD screen.
Driving the base 500X is definitely better than the top spec 500X, the higher end model with its larger engine and 9-speed automatic brings more negatives than positives for the 500X especially when the automatic transmission keeps hunting for the right gear ratio. The result of the heavier weight is that not only is the 2.4-liter slower, but it is also less fuel efficient compared to the lighter, smaller and yet more powerful by 4 horses 1.4-liter. All this results in a better driving car.
The looks of the 2016 Fiat 500X 1.4 Manual screams “look at me, I am an Italian car!” the large cargo space and versatile back seats. Stock configuration, however, of tires and 16 inch rims leave a lot to be desired. With uniquely Italian styling and better value for what you’re getting, the base model Fiat 500X is a great choice for a compact crossover.