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.