Fiat eyes droptop SUV market with 500X convertible

Joe Lorio
·2 min read

Fiat will add a convertible version of the 500X crossover, Automotive News Europe has confirmed. The droptop variant will retain the side structure of the hardtop version, including the doors and door frames, and will utilize a roll-bar canvas top that incorporates the rear window, similar to the design of the 500 Cabrio. The open-air crossover is due to begin production this year.

There's no word from FCA's U.S. arm on whether the model will come to the United States. Fiat's U.S. dealers might very well want it, given that they just lost the 124 Spider and the 500L hatchback for 2021. This despite the unenviable sales track record for crossover convertibles.

Outside of hardcore off-roaders like the Jeep Wrangler (and, by all appearances, the new Ford Bronco), the notion of a convertible SUV has proven to be a sales flop. The odd-duck Nissan Murano Cross Cabriolet, which at least made more of an effort with its two-door body and full soft top, was nonetheless an embarrassing failure that expired with the second-generation Murano in 2014.

Land Rover's first-generation Range Rover Evoque already had a two-door body style when it, too, took a stab at the idea with the Evoque Convertible for 2017. The Evoque was already something of a high-end fashion statement, so maybe the beautiful people who summer in the Hamptons or the south of France would want to bop around town in a baby SUV that allowed them to show off their fabulous selves. Turns out, no. The Evoque convertible pointedly was left on the shelf (along with the two-door hardtop) when the model was redesigned for 2020.

Maybe things will be different for Fiat. In Europe, the 500X convertible will go up against the only other vehicle of its type, Volkswagen's T-Roc Cabriolet. At the launch of that VW in late 2019, Volkswagen's board member in charge of marketing asserted that the idea of combining a convertible and a crossover was "a great opportunity," and yet he also said, "From a rational side, you would never go into the cabriolet market.”

For Fiat — as well as for Volkswagen — it's likely that one of those sentiments will prove correct.