Every day something happens that has us scratching our heads. Turn on the news, and it feels like maybe you’ve entered the twilight zone. Then, along comes the Fiat 500X Pop. It really doesn’t fit into any category, it’s a crossover but also a compact car, city car and hatchback. It’s retro, but also modern. It’s spacious, but also tiny. It basically doesn’t make any sense. However, that’s really the draw in some ways. Starting at under $20k, there are very few crossovers that you can get for less money, so the quirky styling becomes a way to stand out from the crowd, even if you don’t have a ton of cash to your name.
Value is really the proposition here, you get a decent amount of car and space for the money. And judged on that metric, the Fiat delivers. There’s plenty of headroom, legroom and cargo space. There are plenty of pockets and charging ports. You won’t feel like you’re missing much from behind the wheel – well, that is short of horsepower and refinement. But that’s not what you’re buying here, you’re buying personality without the price tag.
There are two engine options, a 160hp and 180hp version, and even with the turbo this can feel a bit sluggish. It is a pretty big and heavy vehicle, after all.
The main strike against this thing is the interior quality. The materials chosen and the build quality of the interior tip you off to the lower price point, but the bold styling from the outside screams, ‘I’m different, I’m stylish.’ It’s really a perfect car for today’s Instagram culture of putting forth a ‘cool’ image, even on your bad days. You can drive this anywhere and feel confident that you’re exuding Italian style and a unique personality.
There are a couple other areas where the Fiat falls short, and one of them is technology. In this day and age when cars are almost driving themselves, the Fiat definitely feels lacking in terms of safety and technology. Sure there are touchscreen and apps, but overall it feels like a bit of an add-on here – and parts-bin technology there – as opposed to anything innovative.
But you’re here for the value, not the bells and whistles. And in this way the Fiat delivers. It’s also fairly fun to drive, despite the lack of power. There’s a sharpness to the handling, and it feels pretty nimble. The transmission is a bit of a let down, as it always seems to be searching for the right gear instead of being in it – but the overall driving experience is still pretty fun.
Overall, there are some things to love, and hate, about this unique crossover. There’s nothing that looks like it on the market, and that’s either good or bad depending on your perspective. We happen to think it’s a bit tall and upright for the vintage look, but it still works. It has an air of being special when you see the throwback lines and chrome accents. Those touches will make you stand out as you drive along. We just wish there was a little more substance to back it up. Regardless, there’s some real value here – and if you don’t want to look like you’re driving an appliance down the road, this is one way to do it.
By Jason Saini
Special thanks to FCA Group for providing the 2017 Fiat 500X POP for review.