The challenge was to design a car that was very much 500, but at the same time very different. It has to be substantially larger than the 500, but not in the same way as 500L. It’s gonna be a crossover, yet it has to retain the “500ness” of the original car, by rethinking what the 500 could be. And the outcome was totally unbelievable – a more mature, masculine, yet elegant crossover 500X with added Italian flavours. Fiat believes that the 500X would be a real game changer for the Italian brand, at the same time paying tribute to the legendary car.
The best thing about Fiat brand is that almost always it creates original and iconic cars. This has been true for very long time, and Fiat 500 is one such car, you know. The 500, dating back to 1957, is simply an icon of Italian marvel in car design. It was then spiced up in 2007 to meet modern sensibilities. Fiat even went a step further by establishing a family of cars out of the quintessential 500, inheriting its iconic legacy. Today, there are the 500, 500 Cabrio, 500 Abarth, 500e, 500L, 500L Trekking and 500L Living models, apart from the latest 500X, the subject of our discussion. Fiat’s new market strategy has made this 500 family an important breadwinner for the brand.
Few years back, the sister brands of Fiat and Jeep ware terribly missing out small SUVs and crossovers in global markets. And so Fiat Chrysler decided to work on a new project that could envisage two cars of totally different, contrasting characters, using different designing teams. Born were the Fiat 500X and the Jeep Renegade, both based on GM Fiat Small Wide 4×4 architecture, also used by the 500L. However, the 500X and Renegade have very less in common except an AWD – the former being a more humble, elegant urban crossover while the latter is a muscular off-road compact SUV suiting their respective brands.
As mentioned before, the designers at Centro Stile Fiat in Turin, Italy had a tricky challenge of carving a new, original design, yet retaining the spirit of the 500 model. The 500L has already tried the usual idea of scalling-up the 500 with an additional set of doors and ride height. The new car is going to be a crossover, which means that its stance is different than that of the regular 500 or the 500L.
The 500X explores a novel dimension of the 500 in a more mature, muscular form, without any excessive flaunting as the case with most of its rivals. Various design cues from the 500 are explicitly manifested – the double round headlamps, the trapezoidal nose and the “whiskers” that extend from the Fiat emblem up front, the ‘clamshell’ hood, and the vertically-oriented tail lamps that flanks the hatch. There is also a character line that wraps around the vehicle in the sides, rear features a forward-canted hatch with a rounded backlight.
Being a crossover, the 500X has got bigger wheels and a taller ground clearance than any other 500. The plastic cladding around the lower areas and wheel arches to bring in certain stylish aggressiveness and toughness has been neatly executed. The multi-spoke alloy design is graceful and syncs with the overall design language of the Fiat.
On the inside, Fiat has given more attention on quality of materials and interior finishes. The dashboard layout depicts an ideal combination of retro aesthetics from the 500 and modern techs touches – such as the 6.5-inch HD touchscreen and navigation system, with Bluetooth and Uconnect functionality, in the large metallic trim section at the centre, reminiscent of the 500. The new multi-functional steering wheel is flamboyant and the three circular sections comprising the instrument cluster is catchy. Functionality and comfort levels are nicely taken care as well. The superlative choices of interior design and colour tones undeniably highlights Fiat’s sensibilities for design and quality.
To conclude, the Fiat 500X has been designed, engineered and built from scratch to tap the growing compact crossover market. And yet, the car pays full allegiance to the legendary 500 and its new family in every respects, through clear expression of “Made in Fiat” design. The 500X is certainly one of the best ‘deviant’ designs a crossover can possibly wear, and puts the brand’s image at the forefront. Fiat also offers a host of customisation options for buyers in select markets, including seven interior configuration comprising of different fabrics, leather, finishes and colours. This clearly points to the flexibility of their designs and build.
The 500X is the first car that engineers from Chrysler’s Auburn Hills and Fiat’s Turin jointly developed. It is assembled Melfi, Italy, alongside the Jeep Renegade, and has that real Italian fragrance to kindle awe and passion among its buyers.
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Photo Credits: Autoweb, Netcarshow, Forbes