Fiat 500X Sport or Abarth 124 RGT, my heart is torn between the two
No, I’m kidding, but the presentation of the Fiat 500X’s Sport version was another opportunity to appreciate the preparations of Milano Racing. I’m talking about the Abarth 124 rally version, the 124 RGT. And at the same time, to discover the new Fiat 500X Sport on rally roads.
Abarth 124 RGT, second episode at the Rallye du Var
The end of autumn is always an opportunity to rediscover that the water is wet and the cold is really cold. That’s exactly what happened when we arrived on the heights of Cannes, in the French Prealps. To be honest, I was so excited at the idea of getting back into an Abarth 124 RGT that I forgot to cover myself warmly. Too bad. So it’s in the cold of the mountains, in freezing rain, that I once again entered the Abarth 124 RGT, with Nicolas Ciamin still at the controls.
Settled in a bucket, a real bucket, strapped down like a roast beef, I’m ready. 3, 2, 1, the Abarth 124 RGT started with a shrill sound that pierces the helmet on my head. The SADEV sequential gearbox gives impressive jolts with each gear change when Nicolas violently presses one of those huge carbon paddles. Meanwhile, the 1750cc 4-cylinder turbocharged all-aluminum engine (usually found in the Alfa Romeo 4C, itself from the Giulietta) blows loudly, very loudly in my ears despite its front center position.
At each corner, I feel the self-locking differential acting to propel the car even faster towards the next curve. One wheel on the line (ok, it clearly bites the line), the car vibrates through the whole chassis but the Abarth 124 RGT remains stuck to the road. What an insane madness!
Foot on the brake, I’m literally pressed against the straps, then my whole body goes to the right at once: Nicolas Ciamin has just made a half turn on the handbrake. You know that kind of huge handbrake in the middle of the rally cars. Yes, we’ve all dreamt about it.
We go back in the opposite direction, he turns to ask me if everything was still OK. Yes, yes, not bad at all, at about 190 km/h on this small, winding, cold and soggy mountain road.
Back on earth with the new Fiat 500X Sport
Everybody knows the Fiat 500X. The X at the end of the name is sporty, wild, outrageous. In fact, the 500 X is not much of anything like that, apart from its size. To cut a long story short, it has the merit of remaining a simple car. What would make it an endearing car? Probably a little more attention from Fiat and especially Abarth. To find out more, read our test drive again. Visually, the new 500X Sport is very close to the regular 500X, only a few elements give it a little more character.
There’s an openwork front bumper and wheel arches painted for a sporty look. You’ll also notice fancy dark gray handles and mirrors. To show off a little, there’s a kind of air diffuser at the rear, 18-inch wheels (19-inch optional) and above all a small “Sport” badge stuck to the side of the car. So, are you happy?
Fiat 500X Sport, what difference does it make?
Nothing inside, except a Sport pack, with red stitched steering wheel, aluminium pedals and black alcanthara touches. Engine side, nothing either, we still have the 150HP FireFly 1.3 turbo. The engine is very decent, it does a good job for its size, although I regret that the turbo’s presence is not very well hidden. Does 150HP sound like a lot to you? I don’t really agree with you, but you can be reassured, the Sport version exists in all the engines’ range.
So when you’re out on the mountainous roads of the Prealps, what surprises me is not really the engine, but the steering. It’s much more precise and pleasant than what we experienced in the regular Fiat 500X. It’s not really the steering of a sports car, but when you take more and more angle you feel a certain resistance that gives you more and more feeling, right Jalil Chaouite and Clémence de Bernis?
After a few sharp corners, the chassis feels much healthier. Normal, Fiat lowered the car by 1.3 cm and opted for Koni shock absorbers (like Abarths cars)! They also put on Dunlop Sport Maxx tires that are usually found on models closer to the GTI range. With all this, Fiat announces 26% less understeer and 17% more oversteer. I’m kidding, 17% less understeer. In any case, you have to notice the work done on the urban behavior of this little family car that becomes a little hill climber, both more dynamic and more comfortable (even if sometimes the Koni + 19-inch wheels causes a few jolts on damaged roads).
The negative point I found about this new version of the 500X is the DTC automatic gearbox. Indeed, it doesn’t always understand what I want, it remains slow and it struggles to express everything Fiat tried to do with this car. Even in manual mode. Noisy and generous in jolts, we would have preferred to have a manual gearbox. Even though I know that customers want a comfortable car for the city and therefore an automatic (to the detriment of its character).
As far as habitability is concerned (because it sometimes counts), we have a relatively large trunk. How big? I can easily sit in it for a picnic even if the edge of the trunk isn’t flat. Sorry I’m not a pro at cargo capacity.
Fiat 500X Sport : 56/100
First of all, because it’s beautiful. It really is. It has a badass side but also a big teddy bear one. We want to get it dirty in the woods and then cuddle it in a garage. Rather nice to drive, quite dynamic (even in the snow), we regret that the comfortable side of the car is either too present when you drive energetically and not enough when you drive cool. Nice effort on the exterior design side, even if you notice as soon as you open the door that the effort couldn’t penetrate the sheet metal.
Why do we expect more from the Fiat 500X?
To go further, we were already asking Fiat for an Abarth version when we tried the normal 500X. Today we are getting dangerously close to it. Yippee! So we’re going to ask Fiat for even more : an Abarth 500X Safari version! Cause we want to drive very fast on the most vertiginous mountain paths. Oh yes, that would be wonderful. It would be an Abarth 124 RGT or a 500X R4, but for “normal” people like you and me.