From £9,915
Perky twin has surprising go, but sometimes labours with lofty gearing
Richard Bremner Autocar
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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Uncle Mellow 19 November 2010

Re: Fiat 500 0.9 TwinAir Lounge

tannedbaldhead wrote:

Some of the most reliable motorbikes out there are twins with balancer shafts.

Modern motorcycle engines don't develop serious torque at 2000 rpm.Or use dual-mass flywheels.

tannedbaldhead 19 November 2010

Re: Fiat 500 0.9 TwinAir Lounge

Maxycat wrote:
Uncle Mellow wrote:
I suspect they have used a dual-mass flywheel to smooth out the firing pulses. This means that it might feel reasonably smooth to drive , but the technology used to achieve this is potentially unreliable.
I have no idea whether they use a dual mass flywheel on this engine but it would be more usual to incorporate a balancer shaft in the engine, maybe running at twice the engine revs, on a single or twin cylinder engine to reduce vibration. As is normal on motorcycle engines with one or two cylinders. I suspect you can get good economy out of this engine but only if you are gentle with the loud pedal and keep speed down.

Some of the most reliable motorbikes out there are twins with balancer shafts.

Maxycat 19 November 2010

Re: Fiat 500 0.9 TwinAir Lounge

Uncle Mellow wrote:
I suspect they have used a dual-mass flywheel to smooth out the firing pulses. This means that it might feel reasonably smooth to drive , but the technology used to achieve this is potentially unreliable.
I have no idea whether they use a dual mass flywheel on this engine but it would be more usual to incorporate a balancer shaft in the engine, maybe running at twice the engine revs, on a single or twin cylinder engine to reduce vibration. As is normal on motorcycle engines with one or two cylinders. I suspect you can get good economy out of this engine but only if you are gentle with the loud pedal and keep speed down.

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