The new soft top Fiat 500X stands out in a crowd

We’re loving the updated version of the popular Fiat 500X. The subcompact crossover is available in three trim levels - the entry-level Cross, mid-level Sport, and the flagship Sport EST, a limited-edition model with a unique soft-top roof that opens up to allow for open-air driving. With an electrically operated roof that a driver can activate at the touch of a button, the Sport EST truly stands out from the crowd.

Under the hood, the 500X features a 1.4-litre turbocharged engine that delivers a respectable 103 kW and 230 Nm of torque, coupled with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. While it performs well in urban driving, some reviewers have criticised it for lacking the necessary punch on highways and hills. Despite this, Fiat maintains that the 500X will consume an average of 5.7 L/100 km, making it a fuel efficient option.

When it comes to handling, the 500X does not disappoint. Its drivetrain is powerful enough to move the vehicle smoothly and comfortably, with no noticeable jerkiness or lag in power delivery. Additionally, the gearbox is well-matched to the engine, ensuring a smooth and seamless driving experience. The ride itself is comfortable, and the SUV feels stable and grounded on the corners, providing drivers with a sense of confidence behind the wheel.

The 2023 500X boasts an exterior design that is not only aesthetically pleasing but also distinct in its LED headlights and fog lights, roof rails, skid plates, and 18-inch alloy wheels. The Sport variant adds a touch of athleticism with its red brake calipers, black roof and spoiler, chrome exhaust tips, and body-coloured bumpers. For the ultimate exterior flair, the Sport EST model offers a unique folding fabric roof that can be conveniently opened or closed with the push of a button located on the dashboard.

The interior of the 2023 500X is spacious and comfortable for four adults, with ample headroom and legroom. The boot space is decent at 350 litres, which drivers can expand to 1000 litres by folding the rear seats. It is less than some of its rivals, such as the Nissan Juke, Renault Captur, and MINI Countryman.

The cabin quality is impressive, with soft-touch materials on the dashboard, doors, and steering wheel. The seats are supportive and upholstered in leather or Alcantara, depending on the variant.

The 500X has modern and user-friendly tech features. A seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, in addition to Bluetooth connectivity, USB ports, and a six-speaker sound system. The digital instrument cluster displays various information, such as a speedometer, tachometer, fuel gauge, and trip computer.

The safety features are generous starting with six airbags, ABS with EBD, ESC with hill holder assist, traction control system (TCS), electronic roll mitigation (ERM), tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS), cruise control, and rear parking sensors. The advanced safety tech includes lane departure warning (LDW), forward collision warning (FCW), blind spot detection (BSD), rear cross path detection (RCPD), traffic sign recognition (TSR), adaptive cruise control (ACC), and automatic emergency braking (AEB).

The Cross model is priced at R509,900, while the Sport model costs R560,900. The top-of-the-range Sport EST model demands R580,900. The good news for buyers is that all three models come with a 5-year/100,000km warranty and a 3-year/60,000km service plan. (Prices correct at time of publication.)

The 2023 Fiat 500X features a unique and stylish design that offers a pleasant driving experience and luxurious features. However, compared to other SUVs in its price range, it may not be the most practical option, with limited rear legroom being one of its drawbacks. Its price range, which starts at R509 900 and goes up to R580 900, may also deter some potential buyers. Nevertheless, if you value Italian flair and are willing to pay a premium for it, the new Fiat 500X could be an attractive and satisfying choice, given its one-of-a-kind character.

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