Base models with low price have existed almost since the beginning of the automobile age, with the express purpose of attracting buyers into showrooms, where sellers smiling then try them more expensive models. But a relatively recent development is that in some families of vehicles, if you want a single manual transmission option is the base model. An example is the Fiat 500X small crossover.
In 500X, this also means giving up all four wheels, the more powerful 180 horsepower 2.4 liter four-cylinder Tigershark, and several optional interior features. However, this proves to be not entirely a bad thing. In two tests with 500X / combination of nine automatic Tigershark speed that left with warm feelings for transmission, whose constant hunting and inclination to enter at higher speeds as soon as possible become tedious.
On the other hand, six speeds as any of the Fiat allows the driver to manually select the appropriate gear for the moment and to maintain, as much as desired. What a concept! To be fair, nine-speed manual mode allows this, too, but most machines tend to be used in drive mode most of the time. The role of six bids speeds are a little long, but the commitments are reasonably sharp and the clutch is sweet, if a little light.
The manual is coupled to the Fiat 160 horsepower 1.4-liter MultiAir turbo four, a combination that makes for a sprint from zero to 60 mph in 7.8 seconds and a quarter mile run of 16.0 to 87 mph. This is certainly competitive standards subcompact crossover. It is also clearly faster than the times recorded for the automatic 2.4-liter (8.7 to 60, from 16.8 to 82 in the quarter mile). Surprising? Well, the MultiAir is torque, with 184 pound-feet of reach 2500 rpm, but the mass is probably the most important factor. Our first unit 500X weighed 2954 pounds, while the wheel drive all Tigershark was heavier at 407 pounds.
And of course, the mass also affects fuel economy. 500X 2.4-liter AWD is EPA rated at 21 mpg city and 30 mpg highway; the front unit is 1.4 liters for 4 mpg better on both measures. That said, the manual model encourages a more enthusiastic driving, so our real-world mileage was slightly below expectations: 23 mpg during our test, compared to 24 for the Tigershark.
But the point is enthusiastic driving. The 500X is one of the most athletic competitors in this type of rapid expansion, with a solid chassis, well-controlled body movements, and surprisingly precise electric power steering. Furthermore, the manual transmission seems to optimize the Fiat responses as well as the direction of the driver involvement.
The only disappointment was the braking performance. While the brakes are easy to modulate itself, offer a good pedal feel, and are free from fading, braking distance from 70 mph to zero is more than 177 feet. Compare that to 163 by Tigershark test car, which was the best in our subcompact crossover comparison. Tires probably contributed to this disparity. The rolling Tigershark 215 / 60-17 Nexen Class debuts, while this test example had ProContact TX Continental tires, size 215 / 60-16.
As noted above, choosing a 500X with a manual transmission has a number of other options off the table. In addition, the basic version (Pop, in the jargon of the level of finishes Fiat) this small crossover is not exactly bare. It is also fun to drive and a little spot price less than $ 21K makes it look even better look.