Fiat 500 Twinair


Price: £10,665


Top speed: 108mph 0-62mph 11 seconds


Consumption: 68.9mpg


CO2 emissions: 95g/km


Best for: Economy twinned with enjoyment


Also worth considering? BMW Mini, Ford Ka, Volkswagen Beetle

When the Fiat 500 burst on to the scene a couple of years ago, everybody noticed. Like Volkswagen's reinvented Beetle and BMW's reimagined Mini, it was a modern take on a much-loved old car, in this case the 1957 500, which turned post-war Italy into a nation of motorists. So far, the Mini has had the edge over the current 500 as a driving machine, but the Fiat has probably won more hearts with its pert good looks, which suddenly made its retro rivals from the German manufacturers seem slightly crude. Now the 500 is available with a remarkable new engine – TwinAir – which puts Fiat right at the forefront of modern trends in engine design, while at the same time symbolically strengthening the bond between today's car and its famous predecessor.

Downsizing is what engines are all about at the moment, and the TwinAir is one of the most impressive examples. Most cars, including modern 500s, have engines with four or more cylinders but the TwinAir has just two. The smallest engine previously available in the 500 has a capacity of 1.2 litres but the Twin Air is just 875cc. The point of downsizing is to enhance economy but not at the expense of performance or refinement, so the TwinAir is packed with technology, including a turbocharger, Fiat's clever MultiAir variable valve-gear and a balancer shaft that smooths out the unevenness to which a two-cylinder engine would otherwise be susceptible. The result: some of the best official fuel consumption and CO2 emissions data for any car on the market.

None of that would count for much if the TwinAir didn't convince out on the road. If anything, though, it's even better in practice than it is on paper. In fact, it's one of the most characterful engines fitted to any current car, with a purposeful, wonderfully fruity note that makes it sound a bit like a BMW motorcycle. Its marvellous mid-range torque drops off a little at low revs, but overall, it's superb.

And that link between the TwinAir and the 1957 500? Well the older car had a tiny two-cylinder engine too, but one that only produced 13 horsepower. I suspect it would, nevertheless, have struggled to match the exceptional fuel consumption achieved by its bigger, safer and more comfortable successor, which has 85 at its disposal, a reminder that while the manufacturers find it hard to improve upon the looks of their older cars, they probably wouldn't want to borrow much else from them.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
The teaser trailer has provoked more questions than answers
filmBut what is Bond's 'secret' that Moneypenny is talking about?
News
Johnny Depp is perhaps best known for his role as Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean
peopleBut how did he break it?
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Walker and Vin Diesel in Fast and Furious 5
film
Sport
Lewis Hamilton secured his second straight pole of the season
f1Vettel beats Rosberg into third after thunderstorm delays qualifying
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

    £12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

    Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

    £32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

    Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

    £18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Day In a Page

    The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

    The saffron censorship that governs India

    Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
    Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

    How did fandom get so dark?

    Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
    The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
    The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

    Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

    Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
    Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

    Disney's mega money-making formula

    'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
    Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

    Lobster has gone mainstream

    Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
    Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

    14 best Easter decorations

    Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
    Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

    Paul Scholes column

    Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
    Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

    The future of GM

    The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
    Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

    Britain's mild winters could be numbered

    Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
    Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

    The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

    The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
    Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

    Cowslips vs honeysuckle

    It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
    Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss