If you thought Fiat wasn’t serious about attacking our market like a piranha, look no further than their all new 2016 Fiat 500x compact crossover. Looking like a 4-door 500 who’s been working out and just got a lift kit, it gets your attention.

Expanding the Fiat 500 lineup to three vehicles, the new 500x is decidedly sexier than the rather pudgy looking 500L. It has four doors and seats five people, but looses the 500L’s schlubby contours and dowdy persona for a more spunky spirit.

It gets all the good 500 styling elements like double headlamps, the signature “whiskers and logo” face motif and rounded clam shell hood. The C-pillar leans forward much like the 500 coupe which goes a long way to keeping it playful in appearance.

Sharing its platform architecture with the 2015 Jeep Renegade, the Fiat 500x has the same wheelbase, and the same two engine and transmission choices, but all wrapped up together in an Italian fashion suit.

Here in North America the 500x comes standard with a 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo engine paired with a six-speed manual transmission on the base front-wheel drive models only, twisting out 160 horsepower.

For those who want an automatic transmission or all-wheel drive, optional will be the 2.4-liter Tigershark MultiAir2 engine with 180 horsepower. The more powerful engine comes mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission in both all-wheel-drive and front-wheel-drive configurations.

One wonders if the people in the Auburn Hills headquarters of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles have yet clued into the fact that the Tigershark engine name sounds, ummm a bit dorky? It’s just unnecessary marketing hoocheekoo.

For those wanting all-wheel drive, the passive system defaults to front-wheel drive most of the time for increased fuel-efficiency. If wheel slip is detected it automatically can step in and divert torque to the rear wheels.

Additionally, a console mounted Dynamic Selector knob gives drivers the choice of three modes; Auto, Sport and Traction + to tailor the 500x response to their wants and traction conditions.

The cabin is also right out of the 500 playbook with rich but toy like design cues combined with a purposeful layout with clever storage areas and increased space. Body color dash and applique trims in some models and a round instrument cluster bolster the theme.

Available features include a Uconnect 6.5” touchscreen and navigation system with Bluetooth streaming audio, a 3.5-inch color instrument cluster display, key-less push button start, as well as a heated steering wheel and seats.

There’s a lot of road going technology available of course including the latest radar based driver aids like forward collision warning, lane departure warning, blind-spot monitor and rear cross traffic detection. If these are paired with good structure, the 500x could be headed for an IIHS Top Safety Pick + rating.

Built in Italy on the same assembly line as the new Jeep Renegade, the 2016 Fiat 500x will launch in spring of next year. Fuel economy and pricing will be announced closer to launch. For a more in-depth review and photo galleries see our report on ActivityVehicle.com.