2016 Fiat Urban Cross review, test drive

    In a bid to fit in with the urban crowd, the Fiat Avventura ditches the tailgate-mounted spare wheel to become the Urban Cross.

    Published on Oct 07, 2016 03:25:00 PM


    What is it like to drive?

    Ditching the heavy mechanism that mounts the spare wheel on the tailgate has made the Urban Cross 30kg lighter than the Avventura, but that hasn’t translated to a discernible improvement in performance.

    The Urban Cross is equipped with the familiar 93hp Multi-jet diesel and the hot and exciting Abarth-tuned 142hp turbo-petrol engine. The diesel motor is clearly showing its age and is far from the benchmark it once was. It’s not as refined as the competition and performance too is below par. Turbo lag is the biggest drawback of this engine. It’s very sluggish at low revs and you have to shift down every time the tacho needle drops below 2,000rpm. The engine redeems itself with a strong mid-range, and it’s quite free revving too. So if you stay above 2,000rpm you can ride a healthy wave of torque without having to constantly change gears and that’s just as well as the gearbox slow to shift and has a very rubbery feel.

    The Abarth petrol engine on the other hand sets the performance benchmark. The turbo petrol offers seriously strong performance and puts the car in the sub-10sec club for the sprint to 100kph – we managed 9.82sec. Just don’t expect a great mileage figure. There is a tiny amount of lag low down, but power builds up from 1,700 rpm and keeps going all the way until 6,000rpm. This is a car that urges you to be bad! With ample power on tap and a suspension that scoffs at anything the road throws at you, it’s only common sense and the law that will compel you to slow down.

    The suspension is simply brilliant; it’s a Fiat suspension, which means it can soak up just about any bump, sharp edges and all. And now with the raised height, it can tackle even rougher ground. There’s decent grip around corners but it feels heavy and far from nimble on its feet. Fiat has made use of an anti-roll bar in the rear and fatter 205 section tyres to keep the handling and body roll near stock Punto levels, but this has added a heavy feel to the Urban Cross.

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