The Fiat 500X will look to drag buyers out of Toyota Corolla and Mazda 3 hatchbacks when it goes on sale in Australia later this year.
Currently on track to launch in either November or December, the Fiat 500X is a compact crossover model that’s more of a natural rival for the likes of the Mazda CX-3 and Honda HR-V, but the local brand says it doesn’t consider those cars direct competitors.
Fiat Chrysler Australia (FCA) director of marketing Zac Loo said that while the CX-3, HR-V and many others in that segment were strongly related to the B-segment city car with which they share their underpinnings, the strength of the 500X is that it’s built on an entirely new platform shared with the Jeep Renegade baby SUV that’s due in Australia next month.
Because of this, Loo said the 500X offers greater appeal thanks to it unique character in the Fiat range and its enhanced practicality and quality over city-sized hatch-based models.
“The interior packaging is really good, getting in and out is a strong point, and the overall space inside,” Loo said. “And we’re also not linked to an existing idea, so the actual feel of the interior is a big step up.
“Like anything in life you try to categorise it with comparables, but the only comparable that links those cars with 500X is length, and when you get inside it’s properly bigger, it feels like a much bigger car, the quality’s different. I don’t think we’ll be taking those buyers, I think we’ll be taking C-segment hatchback buyers.
“You’re talking about a C-segment hatchback buyer who doesn’t want a hatchback any more. They’ve grown up from that, but at the same time they want a bigger car that’s a mix between.”
As such, Loo confirmed the Fiat 500X would be priced higher than most compact crossovers (the CX-3 starts at $19,990, while many others start in the low-$20,000s), but promised “the car you get value-wise with the 500X will be excellent”.
Preliminary specifications of the Fiat 500X announced in March previewed a four-tier line-up for Australia, including Pop, Pop Star, Lounge and Cross Plus variants. Expected for the local range are two tunes of a 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine (103kW/230Nm and 125kW/250Nm); six-speed manual, six-speed dual-clutch and nine-speed automatic transmissions; and front- and all-wheel-drive layouts.
Final specification and pricing details will be announced in the coming weeks when the 500X lands in local showrooms.
Given the success of other vehicles in the small SUV segment (the CX-3, HR-V, Mitsubishi ASX and Nissan Qashqai consistently post monthly sales figures of 900 and above), it appears the sky is the limit for the 500X if the market warms to it.
For now, FCA isn’t making any predictions publically, insisting it’s just focusing on getting as many cars as possible in the hands of dealers and customers.
“We’re not really calling any figures yet,” Loo said. “We’ll just see how it goes. We think it’s a good proposition; it just depends on how the market opens up to it.”
More: 2015 Fiat 500X Review