We’re big fans of the 500, as it proves that small cars can be desirable, and it has always managed to mix style and substance with low CO2 emissions. Now with the addition of a groundbreaking two-cylinder TwinAir engine, the petrol 500 breaks the 100g/km barrier. At launch it was the most efficient petrol engine in the world.
Fiat has been working on its TwinAir concept for some time and the fuel-saving results are excellent – at least on the official tests. By adding both a turbocharger and Fiat’s state-of-the-art MultiAir throttle-less intake and electro-hydraulic valve system to an 875cc two-cylinder engine, the 500 theoretically achieves over 70mpg – although we’ve struggled to come close to achieving this in real-life driving.
You may be thinking at this point that all this efficiency will come at the cost of performance, but you’d be wrong. Despite being small, the engine produces 85bhp and an excellent 107 lb. ft. of torque at just 1,900 rpm, which means that performance is similar to the 1.4-litre unit. You may also assume that the two-cylinder layout will be unrefined, but Fiat has cracked this too.
On the road the new engine suits the 500’s character brilliantly, with the torque providing a useful burst of acceleration to nip in and out of traffic. A further benefit is that the unit is light, weighing just 85Kg. This not only helps performance and fuel economy but also improves the ride and handling.
The 500 has always been a chic city car but with the addition of the revolutionary TwinAir engine it is now a CO2 star too. A great concept, well executed and affordable too.