Wednesday 21 March 2018

Fiat's 500X targets the SUV market

Fiat 500x
Fiat 500x

Martin Brennan

Hungry to re-build the brand fortunes here, Fiat is looking to sign up more dealerships. It has just launched a strong entry into the compact SUV/crossover segment, where sales are rising rapidly here as the bolder more versatile high-rise design gains traction with buyers.

So enter the Fiat 500X. Fiat is coming late to the party with sales of the 500X starting on May 4 and a full range of engines not available until the autumn.

The 500X gives buyers the choice of a smart urban look to attract "fun-loving metropolitans" as the three trim levels, Pop, Popstar and Lounge suggest and a more rugged look with the suitably names Cross and Cross Plus to denote the added great-outdoors off-road characteristics - to attract "active adventurers".

Using the same platform as the recently launched Jeep Cherokee (Fiat owns the brand now) the 500x has a good road presence and shares much of the same technology. The interior is spacious and flexible with fold-and-tumble rear seats and fold-flat front passenger seat, supportive front seats and good visibility. A pleasant enough drive on a short road route at the launch.

To attract the trendies technology abounds, depending on the specification chosen. UConnect provides Bluetooth, streams music, reads incoming texts, has voice commands, TomTom navigation with voice commands, Safety Camera, real-time weather forecasts, 3D maps, destination, recording-studio quality music and apps which allow conversation with friends on Facebook and Twitter, a link to avail of up to 100,000 radio stations worldwide and real-time Reuters news.

All very well, but it sounds very distracting from the real job at hand, concentrating on what is happening on the road.

The driving experience can also be personalised to cater for a variety of driving conditions. A Drive Mode selector covers engine, brakes, steering and gearbox/transmission settings. 'Auto' offers a compromise between comfort, fuel consumption and C02 emissions while 'Sport' gives better performance and more spirited handling while the 'All Weather' setting adjusts the driving dynamics to give best safety in poor terrain and low drip situations. There are two and four-wheel-drive options.

The best-seller is expected to be the Popstar Multijet diesel 1.6-litre 120bhp with 4.1lL/100km and 109g/Km of C02 at €24,450 which will account for 70pc of sales.

Sunday Independent

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