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Future models - Fiat - 500X

Paris show: X marks spot for Fiat 500 SUV

X factor: Fiat has all bases covered in terms of powertrain options and modest off-road ability with the 500X, but the key factors are the brand’s inimitable Italian style, flair and sense of fun.

All eyes turn to Fiat and its all-new 500X in the ‘City of the Light SUV’

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Fiat logo3 Oct 2014

KNOWN as the City of Love or the City of Light, Paris is now better described as the ‘City of the Light SUV’ as the automotive world’s love affair with the compact crossover continues apace and as Fiat steals plenty of limelight at the French capital’s motor show with its all-new 500X.

Officially “under strong consideration for Australia” and all but guaranteed to arrive here in 2015, the Italian brand’s B-segment crossover marks a further expansion of the iconic 500 mini range that includes the 500 and 500C sold here and larger 500L derivatives available overseas.

To be sold in more than 100 countries, including the United States, the 500X is understood to be built on a modified version of the SCCS platform that underpins the Fiat Punto and Opel Corsa, and has obvious styling links with the other members of the 500 family.

The crossover has emerged in Paris in two iterations – one with a “metropolitan” look and feel, the other more off-road-oriented and designed for “leisure” – and will be sold in Europe with petrol and diesel powertrains, three transmissions (manual, nine-speed automatic and six-speed dual-clutch auto) and three driveline configurations: front-wheel drive, four-wheel drive and front-drive with ‘Traction Plus’.

The Australian line-up is still to be determined, with the local Fiat Chrysler subsidiary to pick and choose from the vast array of combinations to be offered in Europe.

Among the petrol engines is a 120HP (90kW) 1.6 MultiJet II and 140HP (104kW) 1.4 Turbo MultiAir II – both front-wheel drive and paired with a six-speed manual or, on the 1.4, the six-speed DCT – while a 140HP 2.0 MultiJet II will be offered with 4WD and nine-speed torque-converter automatic, the latter being the first application of the gearbox on a Fiat car.

Coming later is a 110HP (82kW) 1.6 “E-torQ” variant with FWD/five-speed manual and two sportier variants with 4WD and the nine-speed auto – a 170HP (127kW) 1.4 Turbo MultiAir II and 184HP (137kW) Tigershark 2.4.

Two diesels will also be available at launch – a 95HP (70kW) 1.3 MultiJet II with FWD/five-speed manual, and 140HP (104kW) 2.0 MultiJet II with 4WD/six-speed manual.

The four-wheel-drive system is an on-demand unit, automatically switching between front-wheel drive and AWD as required, while the Traction Plus system is fitted to 2WD versions in the more adventurous ‘leisure’ spec and is meant to improve grip on rough, slippery terrain.

Various driving modes are provided via a ‘Drive Mood Selector’ – auto, sport and all weather – with the leisure versions with 4WD offering a ‘traction’ mode in place of ‘all weather’ which speeds up the transmission of torque to the rear axle.

The 500X measures 4250mm long, 1800mm wide and 1610mm high – dimensions that Fiat says are ideal for buyers “looking for comfort, space and the equipment typical of compact saloons”. The luggage compartment holds a maximum 350 litres.

Standard safety features across the range include electronic stability control, six airbags, daytime running lights and front foglights with a cornering function, while driver-assist equipment available on certain variants include lane-departure warning, lane-change assist, a rearview camera and ‘brake control’ (assisted braking).

Infotainment equipment includes Fiat’s latest Uconnect system with a 5.0 or 6.5-inch touchscreen, both offering Bluetooth interface, aux-in connector, USB/SD ports and voice commands.

Designed at Fiat’s Centro Stile centre in Turin, the 500X is described as representing “a new dimension of the unmistakable 500, where its iconic style and the modern concept of the crossover collide”.

The company also hastens to add that it has done enough to ensure “respectable off-road capability”.

In keeping with its status as a member of the 500 range, a large array of personalisation options will be available.

European customers will be able to choose from 12 different exterior colours, eight different designs for the alloy wheels (ranging from 16 inches through to 18”) and seven interior configurations spanning various types of fabric, leather and colours.

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