Fiat will take downsizing to a whole new level next week when it unveils its new 900cc, two-cylinder TwinAir engine.
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The 63kW turbocharged TwinAir unit will be unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show and is set to feature in the revised Fiat 500 from mid-2010.

The engine is set to provide another option for Fiat as tougher CO2 emissions rules come in to play in 2012. So far, Tata Motors is the only other manufacturer to offer a two-cylinder unit which features in its Nano model (623cc - 24.5kW), though in terms of small displacement, Mercedes-Benz also offer a three-cylinder 799cc diesel (33.5kW) in it Smart ForTwo. Chevrolet, Citroen, Daihatsu, Mitsubishi, Opel/Vauxhall, Peugeot, Subaru, Suzuki and Toyota also offer three-cylinder engines in Europe.

Fiat has not yet released the TwinAir's official CO2 rating saying only that it is less than 100 grams per kilometre. The TwinAir features Fiat's fuel-saving MultiAir technology which improves power and cuts fuel consumption by up to 10 per cent thanks to electrohydraulic variable valve timing. Fiat will offer the TwinAir unit in three variants by late 2011 including a turbocharged 78kW and naturally aspirated 48kW version. The engine can run on both petrol and compressed natural gas.

Fiat has a long tradition of two-cylinder engines having first debuted a 9.6kW 569cc unit in the 1936 Topolino. A 9.6kW 479cc unit was used in the Fiat 500 that arrived in 1957. The last two-cylinder engine built by Fiat was the 23kW 704cc unit offered on the Cinquecento minicar from 1991 to 1996.

It is expected that variants of the TwinAir will also make their way in to other small cars including the Fiat Panda and Lancia Ypsilon. Both replacements are due in the second half of 2011.