Finally the new Fiat 500X is here. After more than 2 years of its quick appearance during the 500L official presentation, Fiat is back in the small SUV segment (the Sedici was one of the first B-SUV) with a very competitive product. It was presented at Paris motor show during a very nice conference press held by Fiat brand chief, Olivier François. Even if the new Italian born wasn’t playing as local in the French auto show, it was considered by many car magazines as one of the most important launches of the event. And is true. The 500X is at the end the car, along with the Jeep Renegade, that will have the role of helping Fiat to stop losing market share and gain more visibility in European markets. It is the nameplate that will demonstrate that it is possible to invest in Italy and produce upscale cars for export markets. If Fiat fails this time, it is going to be hard to keep its European business unit as it is now. Chrysler wouldn’t be able to maintain the whole Fiat operations as Brazilian results continue to slow down and China is still too small. However that scenario seems to be unrealistic, and the new Fiat was born to be success, in and outside Italy. This is why.
1. 500 soul. Unlike the 500L, the new 500X respects the basics of the popular Fiat 500. The car doesn’t only look as the small city-car but it focuses on the details such as the 500 does. The Fiat 500X is full of design and useful details that make the difference when a customer decides. Based on the success of the Cinquecento, which at its 7th year is the absolute king of European and USA A-Segment, a bigger and more powerful version, along with the increasing demand for small SUVs, would have an important role in the B-SUV segment. Of course the demand would depend somehow on the price. Yet again the 500 is another example of how the brand can ask more money for a semi-premium car. And that could be the case of the new SUV, which based on its stylish, cool and dynamic values, Fiat could position it above the French and German competitors and even in that case it will have an important role in this segment.
2. Jeep expertise. The Fiat 500X is the Italian stylish version of the Jeep Renegade, the bad boy. This means that it is not a mere SUV experiment but it makes use of the world’s most famous and best SUV maker: Jeep. The car offers 3 kind of transmissions, the ultimate 9-speed automatic gearbox and many other features that none of its rivals can even think about it. Yes, both SUVs use the 500L platform and share a lot of parts. But the 500X isn’t a ‘SUV wanna be’. It is a crossover with real SUV capabilities, which at the end will count specially in markets such as USA.
3. First impressions. The car is extremely popular on the web. It was even considered the car of the motor show by some Italian and non-Italian web car magazines. Sites such as Automotive News Europe, positioned the 500X presentation as the main article during Thursday and Friday. Besides, right after the first official pictures were revealed, the general opinion of public is very positive. Comments all over the web, including social networks, blogs, forums and mainstream news, were quite good and this time it seems that a big part of the audience really like the car. This is quite unusual when a new car is presented as most of the times people’s opinion gets divided by those who love or hate it. And believe me, internet is now a very good indicator of what’s really happening in the off-line world.
4. More room for more small SUVs. The boom hasn’t stopped yet. After the arrival of the French and Germans and their success, the market is still in a shift from regular segments (B and C) to the entry SUVs. It is happening in a massive way in France and somehow in Germany, Spain and Britain. Consumers are considering the B-SUVs as a serious alternative to the usual Fiestas, Corsas, Clios and so on, while others aren’t even considering the small MPVs, just as it is happening to the Opel Meriva and Ford B-Max. Italy is one of the remaining big European markets where the small SUV market hasn’t taken off at all. Last year the B-SUV segment counted for 5,6% of Italian car sales, with the Renault-Nissan leading the segment (41,5% share), and followed by GM with 17,90% and BMW with 17,82%. Fiat has a room for a successful mini-SUV.
5. A step forward in terms of quality. Based on the press comments and people who saw the car (thanks Daniele), Fiat made a huge improvement in terms of quality. The interior doesn’t only look nice but it is made of high quality materials that haven’t been used before. This means that the company finally got the message and now is ready to offer not only cool but high quality cars for all levels. European and American consumer will appreciate this and of course it will be another key element for the decision-making.