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Paris show: Fiat 500X in production

Down the line: Fiat is already producing early-build versions of the 500X urban crossover at its Italian plant in Melfi.

July 4 premiere out for Fiat 500X, with mini SUV set for Paris show debut instead

Fiat logo14 May 2014

By MIKE COSTELLO

FIAT has started production of its overdue 500-based crossover model at its Melfi plant in southern Italy well ahead of its world premiere at the Paris motor show in early October.

Images of early-build 500X models, as the car will be known, snapped running down the production line were quietly revealed last week, well ahead of the scheduled reveal of the car in full.

Industry insiders have ruled out a rumoured July 4 reveal of the 500X, saying it was considered but ruled out in favour of a Paris show debut.

The 500X will join a growing ‘family’ of 500-based cars, including the 500L five-door hatchback and 500 Living seven-seater.

Growing the 500 family is a key part of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’s (FCA) mid-term plan to split the Fiat brand into ‘functional’ and ‘aspirational’ halves, with the 500 sub-brand to be pitched into the latter and aimed at the upper-end, style-focused part of the small-car market, particularly in developed nations.

But unlike the 500L or 500 Living, the 500X is a lock to come to Australia – eventually.

According to Fiat Chrysler Group corporate communications director Karla Leach the urban SUV will hit the local market in either the second half of 2015 or – if demand from the United States is stronger than expected – early 2016.

This is the same time frame as for the related Jeep Renegade that premiered in Geneva in March, which will be produced at Melfi off the same platform, albeit with some more off-road suitable mechanicals. Pictures of early-build Renegade bodies were shown alongside the 500X versions.

The shots of the 500X’s bodyshell show a softer, more curvaceous design to counter the rugged lines of the Jeep. The curved roof-line and snub overhangs front and rear also closely resemble the pre-production car that was teased at a media preview in July 2012.

At that time, speculation suggested that Fiat would reveal the production version of that year’s Paris motor show, meaning the now-confirmed premiere for this year’s event in the City of Love comes two years later than originally expected.

Both the 500X and Renegade will be priced somewhere around the $25,000 mark at entry, making them rivals for the Nissan Juke, Ford EcoSPort, Holden Trax, Renault Captur as well as the forthcoming Suzuki iV-4 (potentially Vitara) and Honda HR-V.

GoAuto understands from company sources that the widespread media speculation of a July 4 world debut for the 500X to coincide with the 57th anniversary of the original 500 Nuova is incorrect. An event was considered for this date, but it has been pushed to Paris.

Entry versions of the 500X will likely be powered by the Group’s signature TwinAir two-cylinder turbo-petrol engine, while four-cylinder MultiAir turbo-petrol and MultiJet turbo-diesel engines will also join the range.

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