I have always looked Fiat 500 more of a fashion statement rather than a true vehicle choice, its styling saying more about the character of the owner than the car’s functionality. The same goes for its big brother, the 500X, with the exception that more space and functionality has been added without compromising its true Italian styling.
For 2020 the 500X has gone through a mid-cycle refresh that now includes the new Sport trim level.
The new Sport edition has some specific design changes unique to it, including front and rear facias that incorporate LED daytime running and taillights. A new Rovente Red body paint has been added and is accentuated by colour-matched side panels that are in keeping with its Italian styling.
Unlike its cousin the 500L, the 500X Sport seems to stick to its smaller sibling’s European design lines but adds space and more utility thereby making it far more attractive to the North American market. So much so that Fiat has withdrawn its smaller sibling, the 500, from the Canadian market
The 500X Sport, at first glance, certainly looks compact – and being parked between two full-sized pickups didn’t help with first impressions, especially size wise. Once inside my preconceived opinions changed rather quickly. The interior has a very European feel to it, the dash is uncluttered and uncomplicated with a few nice touches. It is far more spacious than I had expected. Both rows of seating are finished in a premium leather and are enhanced with red stitching that add a classy touch and feel. A new flat-bottomed steering wheel has been added that comes with paddle shifters and finished off with Alcantara inserts. Head space in both the front and back is surprisingly high and will easily accommodate taller drivers. Fiat claims that it will fit five passengers comfortably, I would agree – if one of the back-seat passengers is a rather small child.
Up front there is plenty of space for two fully grown adults and it offers plenty of shoulder room with plenty of extra room to be able to reach all of the controls without impeding on the passenger’s personal space.
All controls are crisp and easily read and the 7-inch infotainment touchscreen rests high on the dash and sits nicely in the brushed steel dash insert.
One of the biggest changes is under the hood. A new 1.3 L turbocharged engine is now standard across the line. This nippy little engine produces 177 hp and a more than ample 210 lb-ft of torque. It is attached to a nine-speed automatic transmission that helps distribute the power to the wheels through the standard all-wheel drive system.
The 500X Sport is a tight package, handling is crisp and precise and drives more like a car than a CUV. Acceleration is surprisingly nimble for a small engine and it doesn’t seem to strain too much when getting up to highway speeds. The high seating position helps with unobstructed all-round vision, but any blind spots are easily taken care of with the blind stop monitoring that comes as part of the Advanced Driver Assistance Group ($1,795). Also included in the package is lane departure warning with lane keep assist, forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, rain-sensing windshield wipers and automatic headlights.
Driving around town is a breeze with gear changes smooth and timely making commutes in heavy stop and go traffic a breeze. This 500X Sport came with the Beats Audio system that fits with the youthful vibe of the vehicle. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are now standard, as is Uconnect 4.
To be honest the 500X was far more functional than I was expecting, There enough safety and driver enhancements added that make it comparable with larger SUV’s but they do come at a price.
The 500X Sport is both stylish and functional and manages to be both without losing any of its distinguished Italian flavour and feel.