Fiat's 200bhp Abarth 500X hot crossover nearly ready

5 Feb, 2016 1:00pm Lawrence Allan James Batchelor

Performance-focused Abarth 500X crossover will join 124 Spider in new range of Fiat sports cars

We first got wind of Fiat’s plans to offer a pumped-up Abarth 500X back in the summer of 2015. Now we’ve seen the hot crossover hitting the road in these revealing spy shots. The Fiat 500X with Abarth tweaks isn’t expected to debut until at least next year, but here we can see an undisguised prototype in action.

We can expect the production Abarth 500X to be a bit less subtle than this development car, but tell-tale signs include the twin square exhausts and bigger wheels that appear to borrow Alfa Romeo’s trademark ‘teledial’ design.

Best crossovers to buy now

Expect a wealth of Abarth scorpion badging inside and out, and some racy paintjobs including the familiar white with red decals. Inside, we’re expecting so see sportier seat and wheel designs to complement the bold exterior, plus new colour schemes.

Power for the 500X Abarth will likely come from the same 1.4-litre MultiAir turbo petrol engine you can buy now and that’s set to appear in the Fiat 124 Spider, albeit tuned to around 200bhp.

That should give the Italian SUV enough firepower to compete with the Nissan Juke Nismo RS and the MINI Countryman JCW. Four-wheel drive should also be offered, and expect the option of six-speed manual or automatic gearboxes. Pricing has yet to be revealed, but expect the Abarth 500X to sit at just under £25,000 before options, like the Juke Nismo.

Abarth 500X exclusive image

Our exclusive image shows what we can expect from the racy new Abarth 500X in production guise. The Fiat 500X’s high-riding stance will be lowered, with chunkier bumpers, deeper side skirts and larger wheels all helping to make the hot model look meaner.

Twin tailpipes, a large rear spoiler and an under-bumper diffuser will complete the radical overhaul, while inside, expect deep bucket front seats, extra sports dials and gauges, as well as plenty of ‘Scorpion’ badges.

Abarth fans shouldn’t just expect the Abarth model to be merely a flash Fiat 500X. Speaking in 2015, Alfredo Altavilla, Fiat Chrysler Group chief operating officer, – an engineer who was the brains behind the madcap and stripped-out Abarth 695 Biposto – points to his axing of the Fiat Grande Punto Abarth over a year ago as a clear sign that any new Abarth will be a true performance proposition.

“We went a bit too far with the Punto Abarth,” he said. “Now our customers won’t buy a fake. If the 500X becomes the addition to the Abarth line-up, it will be everything but a family version.”

“Any new version of an Abarth car should deliver some sort of a performance enhancement, otherwise it is useless,” added Altavilla. “We have to be consistent with that DNA of our cars, so the new 500 will be one step forward in that direction.”

Fiat 500X success story

It's easy to see why a performance 500X is on the way. Nearly 10,400 examples of the standard model found homes in Europe in the first part of 2015, and with sales in the small SUV crossover sector set to grow to 1.3 million a year in Europe by 2020, performance versions will have lots of potential customers to aim at.

That’s why Nissan is reportedly readying a Nismo version of its best-selling Qashqai crossover, powered by a tuned 1.6-litre DIG-T engine producing significantly more than the 215bhp Juke Nismo RS. Its sister car, the Renault Kadjar, is also preparing for a Renaultsport makeover.

Now read more about the upcoming Fiat 124 Spider.