From £29,9857
The sportiest version of Fiat's compact crossover aims for more fun and extra style even without additional power

What is it?

Everything might seem like a bit part in Fiat's plans next to the small but mighty 500, yet as the Fiat Fiat 500X turns five, its global sales have now passed the 500,000 mark. With a slew of new rivals chipping away at its market share, Fiat’s response includes the new Firefly petrol engines and now this, the 500X Sport.

Although stopping well short of applying the Abarth tag, the Sport takes a few steps further than creative badging and a price hike. It's available with the 118bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder and 148bhp 1.3-litre four-cylinder petrol engines, the latter offered exclusively with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox with paddle shifters.

Where the Sport goes its own way is with a unique chassis tune. Front and rear springs are around 10% stiffer, with a 13mm reduction in ride height, while the dampers have been retuned to match and the electric power steering gets revised mapping for a sharper feel. As standard, you get 18in alloy wheels, but the optional 19in items are likely to be the most popular.

Visually, the Sport gets a number of changes inside and out. Dark grey highlights, body-coloured side skirts and wheel arch trims, unique alloy wheels, a chromed dual exhaust and a pseudo-diffuser give a big lift – especially in the new red paint finish. Step inside and there's a dark roof lining and a dark A-pillar trim, attractive grey paint across the dashboard and flashes of Alcantara on the steering wheel and instrument cowling.

3 Fiat 500x sport 2019 fd hero rear

What's it like?

The exterior design of the regular 500X is certainly a matter of opinion, but there’s little doubt that the visual changes to the Sport version give it a lift. Fiat has a knack of dreaming up attractive alloy wheel designs, and the 19-inchers on the test car combined with the lowered ride height give the car a stance that's taut and purposeful, if not exactly low-rider. Add in the tasteful flicks of grey detailing and an absence of black body cladding and the basic shape looks its best.

Much the same applies inside, where style narrowly triumphs over substance but both come away happy. In fact, the grey paint and extra-pliant trim in select areas give it a real quality look, and even if committed prodding will show up the cheaper areas, it’s an interior that looks great and works pretty well too.

The 1.3-litre Firefly engine is quiet, if not quite as sweet as the three-cylinder unit, and makes a strong first impression with the gearbox left to its own devices. In normal driving, there’s a useful wad of torque (199lb ft from 1850rpm) accessible through a small throttle input that gives the car a sprightly feel, while the gearbox is unobtrusively smooth. At higher engine speeds, the noise levels outweigh the end product, and even in manual mode it refuses to rev beyond 6000rpm, so it’s better to exploit the torque in the middle.

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The suspension changes show there’s a degree of composure in the 500X’s chassis that was previously well hidden. The steering offers a little more resistance, even if the weighting changes little as you apply lock and the cornering forces build. Varying degrees of understeer are available, while a determined lift will change its attitude slightly, but the electronic stability control is keen to prevent things getting too interesting.

What the Sport achieves is making the most of the base materials, so that the B-road option holds some appeal if you’re in the mood. The stiffer suspension will inevitably have an effect on the ride quality, but it's smaller imperfections that show this up; larger undulations are dealt with comfortably. 

7 Fiat 500x sport 2019 fd dashboard

Should I buy one?

The equally quick and similarly specified 500X Cross Plus is £1200 cheaper, but it does without the visual upgrades and sharper responses of the Sport. If you have your heart set on a 500X and regularly venture out of town, this is the one to go for. Otherwise, the sweeter 1.0-litre or less expensive 1.3-litre models get close enough for less money if you can live with the plainer looks.

Matt Joy

Fiat 500X Sport specification

Where Balocco, Italy Price £24,700 On sale Now Engine 4cyls, 1332cc, turbocharged, petrol Power 148bhp at 5500rpm Torque 199lb ft at 1850rpm Gearbox Six-speed dual-clutch automatic Kerb weight 1320kg Top speed 124mph 0-62mph 9.1sec Fuel economy no WLTP data CO2 no WLTP data Rivals Seat Arona FR 1.5 TSI Evo, Mazda CX-3 2.0 Sport Nav+

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2 Fiat 500x sport 2019 fd hero side

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Megastarsbio 6 May 2021

Nice article....

blogograph 10 September 2019

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parcclematis 10 September 2019

Dear Autocar website

Dear Autocar website designers,

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parc clematis