From £9,915
Perky twin has surprising go, but sometimes labours with lofty gearing

Our Verdict

Fiat 500
The Fiat 500 is a small, cheap, utilitarian car that has become an icon

The Fiat 500 is a deserved success story for the brand, offering bags of style, a fine drive and low costs

3 November 2010

What is it?

Italy swarmed with twin-cylinder Fiats back in the 1960s, but such engines have never been as popular here in the UK due to their meagre power outputs.

The new Fiat 500 TwinAir has no such shortcomings, though, with its all-new, vertical-turbo twin pushing out a strong 84bhp and 107lb ft of torque from as little as 1900rpm.

What's it like?

Run at 30mph in fourth gear aboard the Fiat and you hear a low, pulsing grumble; its gearing is seemingly a little too tall for the twin to haul uncomplainingly. But this is a rare fault; the TwinAir motor is otherwise a pleasure to use. Its free-revving nature and friendly burble (modelled on that of the ’57 Cinquecento) make each journey a drive of characterful difference. Those uninterested in engines and how they work may find its warbling rather odd, but in our book Fiat’s romantic ear-cocking to the past earns top marks.

Wide-throttle, uphill lugging provokes the same faint grumble and you do have to use the five-speed manual gearbox if you’re baulked on the motorway, but the TwinAir is an easy cruiser at 85mph, and quicker to get there than you’d expect.

Its tidy if unexceptional handling is little changed from that of the 1.2-litre petrol 500, although ride quality has markedly improved following the arrival of the soft-top 500C and some welcome across-the-range chassis tweaks.

Should I buy one?

Our only other concern is real-world fuel consumption. Almost 70mpg may be the official combined figure, but a trip computer reading of an unimpressive 37mpg does not sound so promising.

Fiat 500 0.9 TwinAir Lounge

Price: £12,065; Top speed: 108mph; 0-62mph: 11.0sec; Economy: 68.9mpg (combined); CO2: 95g/km; Kerb weight: 900kg; Engine: 2 cyls, 875cc, turbo, petrol; Power: 84bhp at 5500rpm; Torque: 106lb ft at 1900rpm: Gearbox: 5-spd manual

 

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Comments
33

9 November 2010

Looks like a good little car to me but I am baffled by the fuel consumption . 33mpg difference between your and the official figures .

Wow how much did you cane it to get that low a figure ?

Could 50mpg be expected if driven normally . If the consumption really is that bad it defeats the object of paying more for this over the 1.2 or 1.4 .

9 November 2010

Everything about it sounds great - apart from its original selling-point; fuel economy.

The sooner the EU economy definitions are revised so that at least a there's a slim chance of getting anywhere near the published figures, the better. Otherwise it feels increasingly like we're being sold cars on inaccurate and unachievable economy claims, basically because it's the hot topic of the moment.

37mpg is poor from a car with this engine-size/weight combo...I average exactly the same as that with a 1.6 Alfa and a heavy right foot.

9 November 2010

37mpg is appalling and means that the real world CO2 figure is similarly bad. I wonder if Fiat has programmed the computer with US gallons as a result of its new Chrysler relationship? Let's have a proper brim to brim measurement.

9 November 2010

[quote michael knight]

The sooner the EU economy definitions are revised so that at least a there's a slim chance of getting anywhere near the published figures, the better. Otherwise it feels increasingly like we're being sold cars on inaccurate and unachievable economy claims, basically because it's the hot topic of the moment.

[/quote]

Its worse than that. Cars with higher consumption and awful 'official' figures regulaly exceed the official figures quite easily. So the difference looks much worse than it is.

I dont blame the manufacturers. If anyone sets you a test you try your best to do well at it, however unreal the test might be.

9 November 2010

I wonder why Cropley's first review was so different... anyway, 37 mpg is a strange number, very different from the tests other continental magazines have done.

Ok, it's not a Ford, that's why...

9 November 2010

Maybe just a case of Dyscalculia and got the numbers the wrong way round 73 not 37!

9 November 2010

[quote LP in Brighton]37mpg is appalling and means that the real world CO2 figure is similarly bad[/quote]

I used to drive a Fiat 126 - I never got near the average fuel consumption because once sat behind the wheel I felt compelled to cane it without mercy. It was fun but no good at all for the fuel consumption.

A torquey 1.4 or even a 1.6, with good stop start, which did not like to rev would probably be a better proposition. Unfortunately most manufacturers are now going for smaller turbocharged units to meet the emissions figures, which if driven to match the stated performance figures the fuel consumption and emissions will fall dramatically.

This is not a new discovery and complicated turbo engines will have shorter lives, so why are the manufacturers not being asked such questions?

9 November 2010

RednBlue: Maybe that's because continental tests measure litres per kilometre:)

Disagree anyway - seriously thinking about buying one, but everything I read agrees with Autocar's founding - good car with very dubious fuel consumption. AutoExpress, France's leading publication, pretty much mirrored everything Autocar says, think they had it at 6 point something l/100km, works out around 40mpg. They advised to wait and see if the engine calmed down when run-in

9 November 2010

I find the combination of a state of the art engine with an old tech 5 speed box an odd mix. Surely this car at this price should have the 6 speed box from the 1.4 engined cars and this would also cover the gearing issues experienced during the test?

9 November 2010

well this makes for an interesting comparison. the bentley continental vs the fiat twin air. both iconic cars at opposite ends of the spectrum. i see mad dog has written his memoirs, pointless.

www.KOOOLcr.com

 

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