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BITTER SWEET: 2020 FIAT 500X SPORT

Trusting a sports badge attached to the tail end of a crossover is like trusting fashion sneakers to complete a marathon – it just doesn’t happen. With the Fiat 500X having been around the block a time or two, a new Sport trim has arrived to the US market; after all, why couldn’t we have a taste of what the Europeans have been drinking up these last few years.

Taking a cut to the chopping block, three trim levels have been removed from the 500X’s lineup and replacing them with a more specialty Sport trim. Pricing starts with the entry-level Pop at $24,590 and our featured Sport comes in third out of the four available options with a starting price of $26,895. Going full sporty, there is a unique boldness to its presence – the front and rear bumpers are a more aggressive, sportier 18-inch wheels come standard and the interior gets a couple of detailed premium Alcantara suede inserts. From the outside, this little-ute looks quite peachy – even with our tester going full throttle on the options list, it was upgraded with 19-inch wheels and the LED headlight package.

Last year when we tested the 500X Trekking, it felt edgy with quite a bit of spunk, and much of that quality has followed suit. It handles like an Italian ninja with nimble responsiveness and controllability that increases confidences in its steering. The chassis is well in tuned to the road sending positive vibes as the suspension copes with the rough stuff. Even the braking felt linear with supportive feel.

With all the sweetness of its Italian mojo, bitterness soon follows as this rather fetching crossover has a major flaw – its performance.

On paper the numbers look good, 177-horsepower with 210 lb-ft of torque from a 1.3-liter turbocharged engine. When we look at the wonderfully performing Kia Seltos, a similarly sized competitor, its performance figures are slightly less than the Fiat 500X – so then things should achieve similar performance figures… but somehow it doesn’t. From a start the turbocharger is like a teenager before finals, it just never seems to be prepared. Then there’s the 9-speed automatic transmission, its up shifts are as lazy as a sea lion and its downshifts aren’t much better. And should we opt to use the steering wheel paddle shifters, any joys of enthusiastic driving are all lost. The end result leaves us with taking nearly 9-seconds to 60-mph. Then there’s the advance safety equipment, which is an extra $1400 with an annoyingly loud lane departure warning that is as obnoxious as a toddler’s musical toy.

Inside, there are little touches that were altered from the standard trim options with the silver painted dash and console that is usually painted to match the body color. With the seats upgraded to feature sport leather, the setting was comfortable, even the rear seats can accommodate above average height occupants with reasonable maneuverability.

There is a lot to like to about the 500X that hits our sweet tooth when it comes to the loveable sized crossovers including its standard all-wheel drive system that allows us to toggle between Sport, Normal and Snow. After driving last year’s version through a snow storm, its all-wheel drive system seemed to be up to par for just about any adventure. Unfortunately, its fuel economy on the other hand may have a different agenda requiring us to fill up every 250-miles. Even from an EPA rating, the fuel consumption is rather small sitting at 24/30/26 (city/highway/combined.) Setting out to see the results after our test, it didn’t fair to well with 27-mpg after our 200-mile, 75-mph highway test and total combined rating of 23.3-mpg from the week.

With there being several sub-compact crossovers on the market, the Fiat 500X Sport is an attractive option with is European flair and sporty influences. The bitter, sweet relationship will all depend on the driver when it comes to putting their foot down on the accelerator.

VEHICLE SPECIFICATIONS

Model: 2020 FIAT 500X
Trim: SPORT
Base Price: $24,590
Starting Trim Price: $26,895
As Tested: $35,895
Color: ITALIA BLUE

PERFORMANCE SPECIFICATIONS

Engine: 1.3-LITER TURBOCHARGED FOUR-CYLINDER
Horsepower/Torque: 177-HORSEPOWER / 210 LB-FT TORQUE
Transmission: 9-SPEED AUTOMATIC
Drivetrain: ALL-WHEEL DRIVE
Fuel Economy: EPA RATED: 24-CITY / 30-HWY / 26-COMBINED
AS TESTED: 23.3-MPG COMBINED / 27.1-MPG HIGHWAY (200 MILE TEST)
Fuel Range: 270 MILES
0-60 MPH: ±9.0 SECONDS

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