2016 Fiat 500X 1.4L Manual Review

Oct 8th

Base models with a low price point have existed practically since the dawn of the automotive age, with the express purpose of luring buyers into showrooms, where smiling salespeople then tempt them into more-expensive models. But one relatively recent development is that in some vehicle families, if you want a manual transmission your only choice is the base model. Case in point is Fiat’s 500Xsmall crossover.

In the 500X, this also means foregoing all-wheel drive, the more-powerful 180-hp 2.4-liter Tigershark four-cylinder, and several optional interior features. However, this turns out to be not an entirely bad thing. In two tests of the 500X with the Tigershark/nine-speed-automatic combo, we emerged with lukewarm feelings toward the transmission, whose constant hunting and penchant for getting into higher gears ASAP become wearisome.

In contrast, the Fiat’s six-speed—like any manual—allows the driver to pick the gear suited to the moment and hold it as long as desired. What a concept! To be fair, the nine-speed’s manual mode allows this, too, but most automatics tend to be driven in drive mode most of the time. In terms of function, the six-speed’s throws are a tad long, but the engagements are reasonably crisp and the clutch is sweet, if a bit light.

The manual is mated to Fiat’s 160-hp 1.4-liter MultiAir turbo four, a combo that makes for a zero-to-60-mph sprint of 7.8 seconds and a quarter-mile run of 16.0 at 87 mph. That’s certainly competitive by subcompact-crossover standards. It’s also distinctly quicker than the times we recorded for the 2.4-liter automatic (8.7 to 60, 16.8 at 82 in the quarter-mile). Surprising? Well, the MultiAir is torquey, with 184 lb-ft arriving at 2500 rpm, but mass is probably a bigger factor. Our front-drive 500X weighed in at 2954 pounds, while the all-wheel-drive Tigershark was heavier by 407 pounds. Complete review on www.caranddriver.com, by Michael Simari

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