For this month’s motoring reviews, Sussex Business Times got behind the wheels of the Fiat 500X and Volkswagen Arteon. Here, we report back on our findings…

FIAT 500X

Fiat Automobiles is one of Italy’s largest car manufacturers and was formed in January 2007 when Fiat reorganised its automobile business, and traces its history back to 1899 when the first Fiat automobile was produced. Since then, it has become one of the world’s largest car manufacturers, creating some of the most popular models in today’s society. Here in this issue though, we turn our focus to the Fiat 500X.

Of course, as the name hints, this motor’s exterior reminisces that of the incredibly popular Fiat 500, with traditionally rounded front and rear ends and striking alloy wheels. The only difference really is that of the size. The 500X differs slightly from your regular hatchback crossover SUV with a quirky and eccentric design – perfect for those who require space with the need for a unique-looking car.

Speaking of the car’s interior, the first point we have to make is that of comfort. The seats in particular are incredibly comfortable, and with a huge amount of space inside (this Fiat model is deceptively large, although so are regular Fiat 500s), already making it the perfect motor for longer business journeys or family trips away. It has all the controls you could possibly need, all of which are incredibly simple to use too. Saying that, it would’ve been beneficial to have the radio controls on the steering wheel, as most people know playing around with certain elements like this can be distracting whilst driving, but I suppose this is just one of the things that separates the 500X from your modern day car. Another point we have to make surrounds that of the handbrake. While that might sound a bit ridiculous (isn’t a handbrake pretty self-explanatory?), we found the shift from your usual handbrake to an electric handbrake quite confusing!

Technology is also a plus with the Fiat 500X, boasting a 5-inch touchscreen display, steering wheel commands, Bluetooth® with audio streaming, eco:Drive™ function and Uconnect™ infotainment system. It really does offer all the technology you need for perfect travelling.
All models get USB, 12V and auxiliary inputs that are positioned in a dish that’s ideal for storing your phone, pop trim and you also get Bluetooth handsfree and audio streaming, a multifunction steering wheel, and six speakers. A nine-speaker Beats sound system is expensive but available across the range.

The drive that comes along with this vehicle is equally as impressive as its appearance. It’s smooth over bumps and handles speed round corners perfectly. It has plenty of grip, and you can place it precisely in corners, even though the steering is a bit vague. Still, it’s light and easy for tight parking manoeuvres, so overall the 500X is easy and pleasant to drive in any everyday situation.

The engine revs smoothly and stays hushed unless you really wring it out towards the red line, while wind and tyre noise are kept to a distant, easily ignored background hum. There’s also a slight vibration through the pedals and steering wheel in the diesel, although both get a light clutch pedal and slick, if long-throw, gearshift.

After going through the gears, we were surprised as to how powerful the car is for such an underwhelming sized engine! We did feel, however, that the turbo was too big for the engine, especially when trying to pull away in second gear – the 500X definitely struggled. Either way, once we got it going, this car had fantastic power. Speaking of the sport mode in particular, there isn’t a huge amount of difference, but this Fiat model still has so much to offer.

The Brake Control system signals danger if its radar and video sensors perceive too high a speed difference between the 500X and the vehicle in front of it, such as a potential collision risk. If the driver fails to act, the system automatically activates the brakes to avoid a collision or at least limit the impact.

So to sum up, the Fiat 500X is one heck of a car, fantastic for its value. Of course there are a few minor faults that can be pointed out, but we are yet to find a car without any. Driving this motor completely switched our premature opinions and we can really vouch for Fiat on this one!

VOLKSWAGEN ARTEON

For those who might’ve been living under a rock, Volkswagen is a German car manufacturer, founded back in 1937 who since this date, has continued to produce some of the UK’s most loved cars and vans. Of course, being such a renowned manufacturer means that we’ve had numerous Volkswagen models grace our pages before, but this time around we turn our focus to the Arteon…
The Volkswagen Arteon is a four door fastback, and a direct successor of the Volkswagen CC, unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year. Speaking of the car’s interior alone, it’s quite impressive. Put simply, it’s a beautifully crafted car – executive, good looking and aesthetically pleasing with the sharp lines and big alloys.

Moving on to the Arteon’s interior – one of the, if not the most important element of a car when considering practicality and comfort – we remained impressed. The Volkswagen Arteon boasts everything you would expect and more from a car of this value. The heads up display is a great touch and the plentiful touch screen infotainment system – featuring Apple play, which essentially turns your AV unit into an iPad – works brilliantly. A lot of the time, having such a technologically advanced motor can almost be a downfall – there’s a lot more that could possibly go wrong. However, it’s clear to see that VW have used the very best technology around. As the exterior suggests, the Arteon is incredibly spacious, boot included, making for an all round comfortable driving experience. The Arteon also offers ample rear leg room, but, as with all of these four-door coupés, the sloping roofline takes its toll on rear head room.

Also with this car comes electric adjustment for the driver’s seat backrest recline and four-way lumbar adjustment, and manual adjustment for everything else, including height. The seats themselves are quite flat and wide, but give good support and should keep you twinge-free on a long trip.

It’s without a doubt one of the more attractive Volkswagen models we’ve had the pleasure of driving, but will the driving experience match up?

With regards to the driving experience that comes along with this motor, the only thing really lacking is that of girth from the engine, and we did feel as tough it was slightly underpowered for such a large engine. When comparing to what we can only assume is its current rival – the Audi A7 – you realise why there is such a drop in price! The Arteon’s steering is well weighted and precise – if not as feelsome as the Jaguar XE’s or the best-set-up BMW 4 Series’. As standard, you get variable steering, which is calmer at high speeds for better stability but quicker around town for less arm twirling – a real boon when parking in tight spots. Sharper potholes hit at speed are the only things that catch it out and cause it to thump. The standard suspension is similarly compliant at speed but more unsettled in town, especially when paired with larger wheels.

Taking everything into consideration, the Arteon is a great car – among the very best VW models we’ve had the pleasure of testing. Volkswagen have really made a good effort to compete with this one and will do well with such a great price tag for such a top-of-the-range car. Well done with this one, Volkswagen!

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