Fiat 500X Abarth (2018): is Fiat readying a hot hatch crossover?

Published: 08 February 2016

Abarth 500X on the way?
Bigger brakes, dual exhausts
Unlikely to launch before 2017

What are Fiat’s engineers cooking up? CAR’s spies have spotted an altogether warmer kind of Fiat 500X testing in the cold, and believe it could be our first look at the rumoured Abarth-badged performance version.

Those brakes look tasty…

They’re certainly much bigger than the standard car’s, and there’s no missing them behind those horseshoe-spoke 18in wheels (borrowed from the Alfa Romeo Giulietta QV, by the looks of things).

Also unlike the standard car is a double-exit exhaust system – no current 500X on the market has more than one exhaust outlet. Our eyes were drawn to the curiously low-hanging exhaust pipe in the rear shots, presumably a temporary location as Fiat’s engineers work out how to route the new split-exit system.

CAR’s photographers report a really quite fruity exhaust note, too. There are a few potent petrol engines in the Fiat factory to choose from, not least the 1750cc unit in the Alfa Giulietta QV mentioned earlier, and its evolution powering the Alfa 4C sports car.

The regular 500X is available with both front- and four-wheel drive. This particular prototype’s the latter, judging by the powerslide in the gallery.

A go-faster crossover? Really?

It’s not a market without precedent. Nissan’s Juke Nismo and Mini’s Countryman JCW are two previous hot hatch/4×4 crossbreeds and with the small SUV market still expanding, there’s clearly demand there to tap into.

Previous Abarth-badged Fiat 500 models have been limited to the smaller 500 hatch and 500C cabrio. We think an Abarth 500L would be a brand stretch too far, though…

A production Abarth 500X is unlikely to appear in 2016, with a debut in late 2017 or early 2018 more likely.

Read CAR’s long-term Fiat 500X test diary here

By James Taylor

CAR's deputy features editor, occasional racer