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by Tim Beissmann

Fiat has unveiled production versions of the Fiat 500 and 500C powered by its all-new 900cc turbocharged two-cylinder TwinAir engine.

Set to hit European showrooms in September, the 63kW engine was revealed earlier this year at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show and will be the first of a family of new frugal engines ranging from 78kW down to 48kW.

With CO2 emissions of 92g/km with the Dualogic robotised gearbox and 95g/km with the manual, Fiat says the TwinAir emits 30 percent less CO2 than engines of equal performance. The engine is also 23 percent shorter and 10 percent lighter than medium-sized four-cylinder engines of similar performance.

Fiat has not released combined fuel consumption figures, but measures on the urban cycle have come in as low as 4.0 litres/100km (4.1 litres/100km manual).

Despite the tiny numbers, the TwinAir-equipped 500 still accelerates from 0-100km/h in 11 seconds and has a top speed of 173km/h.

Able to be driven to two modes, “Normal” is the sportier setting where the full 145Nm is available and the engine and steering becomes more responsive.

In “ECO” mode, torque is limited to 100Nm to minimise consumption and the steering becomes lighter and more city-friendly.

Fiat’s Start&Stop idle system and Gear Shift Indicator come standard with the TwinAir models to further enhance the vehicles’ environmentally friendly abilities.

But Edward Rowe from Fiat’s Australian importer, Ateco Automotive, said the TwinAir engine would not find its way into the Australian line-up.

“That engine is designed to work within the European CO2 tax regime and when you take the tax out of the equation the engine is no longer viable.

“You’re going to have this increasingly in Europe because what the manufacturers are doing is building engines to get into certain CO2 brackets with big, big tax savings but those engines are obviously much more expensive to design, develop and build.

“This engine is considerably more expensive than a normal 1.4 and as Australia has decided to ignore the rest of the world when it comes to CO2 tax it’s obviously a problem that is going to continue.”




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