Abarth is working on its first ever crossover and there’s a big chance that this beefed-up 500X will borrow its engine from the Alfa Romeo 4C

Compact crossovers continue to gain popularity in the U.S. and Europe, and it seems like every automaker is getting in on the fun. Now, the latest craze is taking these small utility vehicles and turning them into performance rigs. It all began with the funky 2016 Juke-R Nismo, then moved on to the 2015 Mercedes GLA 45 AMG. When Fiat unveiled the 500X at the 2014 Paris Motor Show, rumors began to swirl about an Abarth version, which would be the first crossover to sport the iconic Scorpion badge. After months of speculation, we finally have proof that Fiat is indeed working on a high-performance version of the 500X.

The prototype seen in our recent spy shots may seem like a regular 500X at first glance, but several tell-tale signs about its actual identity are noticeable upon closer inspection. And that’s exactly what we will discuss in the speculative review below.

There’s no official word as to when the 500X Abarth will break cover, but an unveiling is expected to occur by the end of the year, most likely at the 2016 Paris Motor Show in October. If this turns out to be true, the beefed-up crossover will arrive in U.S. dealerships in early 2017.

Updated 02/04/2016: Our spy photographers caught the upcoming Fiat 500X Abarth out for a first testing session.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2017 Fiat 500X Abarth.

  • 2017 Fiat 500X Abarth
  • Year:
    2017
  • Make:
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-4(Est.)
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    200 (Est.)
  • Displacement:
    1.75 L (Est.)
  • 0-60 time:
    7 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    155 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
    31000
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Spy Shots

february 4, 2016 - First testing session

2017 Fiat 500X Abarth Exterior Spyshots
- image 664169
2017 Fiat 500X Abarth Exterior Spyshots
- image 664160
2017 Fiat 500X Abarth Exterior Spyshots
- image 664166

Exterior

Don’t let the Fiat badge and the stock body fool you, this mule is not your standard 500X underneath. And, there are two details that suggest just that. First, it has dual exhaust outlets under the rear bumper. Considering that no 500X has more than one exhaust pipe and that the dual configuration has been an Abarth trademark lately, it’s safe to assume that there’s a more powerful engine lurking under the hood. Second, the wheels are sportier than anything available with the 500X right now.

Updates should include a more aggressive front fascia with larger intakes to feed more air into the engine, revised side skirts, a diffuser-like element around back, and a lowered suspension

Heck, they’re almost identical to the ones seen on the bonkers Alfa Romeo 4C and they are backed by larger brake rotors. Fiat wouldn’t use such a combo on a regular model, not even for customization purposes, so they must have something to do with a tweaked drivetrain and sportier chassis. Finally, the photographer who sent us the pictures said that the exhaust note was quite aggressive, a feat you don’t get with a Fiat badge.

With that in mind, it’s safe to assume that this mule will receive an Abarth makeover as it moves closer to production. Updates should include a more aggressive front fascia with larger intakes to feed more air into the engine, revised side skirts, a diffuser-like element around back, and a lowered suspension. Naturally, it will also get Abarth badged instead of the usual Fiat logos, Abarth-style decals, and several visual packages with contrasting stripes, "Abarth" lettering, and special colors.

Interior

2016 - 2018 Fiat 500X Interior
- image 571214

Note: Standard Fiat 500X pictured here.

Our paparazzi didn’t manage to take a snap of the interior, but I have a feeling the cabin will receive a few updates in comparison to the standard 500X. The interior should get the sporty touch, most likely by ways of sport seats with larger bolsters for a tighter embrace through the corners, sporty gauges, and the typical Abarth scorpion badges. Also part of the deal may be some exclusive trim and color options. You can also expect to see a bespoke instrument cluster and infotainment screen, and a flat-bottom steering wheel.

Drivetrain

2017 Fiat 500X Abarth Exterior Spyshots
- image 664173
Reports indicate that the 500X Abarth could come with the same 1.75-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder as the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider.

Under its hood, reports indicate that the 500X Abarth could come with the same 1.75-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder as the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider. This engine is also rumored to grace the 2018 Fiat 124 Abarth Spider. Like the 124 Spider, Fiat would likely detune the 4C-sourced engine to around 200 horsepower. While it would stink to not get the full power of this tiny four-pot, 200 ponies should be plenty for the tiny crossover. This hot piece of information has yet to be confirmed, but our photographer said that the test car sounded a lot like Alfa’s gorgeous sports car.

The big debate about this hot crossover is whether it will have all-wheel drive or not. Common sense says that power will be sent to all four wheels, but some reports indicate that Fiat may keep it front-wheel drive to save weight.

In the handling department, look for an upgraded suspension with a lower ride height, and fatter chunks of rubber at the corners.

Transmission choices should include both manual and automatic transmissions, which will likely be different than the five-speed and six-speed units available with the Fiat 500 Abarth.

Expect the Scorpion-badged crossover to hit 60 mph from a standing start in under six seconds on its way to a top speed of at least 130 mph.

Prices

2016 - 2018 Fiat 500X Exterior
- image 571435

The 500X starts out at a fairly reasonable $20,000 and its ranges up to $27,100 for the range-topping Trekking Plus trim. The Abarth model will certainly command a few grand more than the current range topper, so look for a starting price of around $31,000.

Competition

Nissan Juke Nismo RS

2016 Nissan Juke-R 2.0 Concept High Resolution Exterior
- image 634944

The tiny 2016 Nissan Juke Nismo RS will be a key global competitor for the 500X Abarth. This jacked-up hatchback features a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine that produces 211 horsepower and 210 pound-feet of torque. If you opt for all-wheel drive, the torque drops to just 184 pound-feet. The engine mates to either a six-speed manual transmission or a continuously variable transmission. The 2015 Juke Nismo RS starts from $28,020 for the 2016 model year, putting it slightly lower than my estimate for the 500X Abarth.

Read our full review here.

Mercedes-Benz GLA250

2015 Mercedes GLA 250 - Driven Exterior Test drive
- image 633946

While it may not be a “performance” model, the 2015 Mercedes GLA250 is a small crossover you should look into when considering the 500X Abarth. Thanks to its turbocharged 2.0-liter engine that produces 208 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, this small Benz can hit 60 mph in just 7.2 seconds, which should put it about in line with the 500X Abarth. This model checks in at a starting price of $31,300, plus you can add a touch of sportiness with the $2,200 Sport Package.

Read our full review here.

Conclusion

2017 Fiat 500X Abarth Exterior Spyshots
- image 664164

Ahhh, the invasion of the tiny crossovers continues. I know there are plenty of people in this world that hate these things, but there are also tons of folks who love these lifted hatchbacks. I, for one, don’t have a major problem with them, so long as they have all-wheel drive. This is especially true with performance-oriented models. So, unless the 500X Abarth has all-wheel drive, I recommend avoiding it like the plague. However, I can’t jump past the fact that it could have the Alfa Romeo 4C’s engine under the hood, which will make it one of the throatiest high-performance crossovers on the market.

  • Leave it
    • Can buy a Mercedes-Benz in the same price range
    • There’s a chance that it’ll only be available with front-wheel drive
    • All-wheel drive is about the only thing useful on a small crossover like this
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