Fiat's diminutive 500 is to be one of the biggest Fiat launches in the States in decades, a low-priced retro-styled offering that will likely compete with not just the Mini Cooper but also hatchbacks like the Honda Fit and Nissan Versa.
Now, you can add ultra-fuel-efficient cars like the Smart ForTwo and maybe even hybrids like the Prius to that list, because a new version of the "Cinquecento" (as the Italians call it) offers a whopping 57 miles per gallon.
The Fiat 500 TwinAir, as the new version is called, hasn't been confirmed as one of the models coming Stateside, but we hope it is. The car, test-driven by AutoExpress, uses a two-cylinder, rather than four-cylinder, gas-only engine with Fiat's MultiAir system. Says AutoExpress:
It uses electro-hydraulic control of the inlet valves, rather than a conventional camshaft, to manage the amount of air entering the engine. This allows more precise management of combustion, reducing fuel consumption.
As well as boosting efficiency, the managed air flow improves low-down torque, while the more constant flow of air keeps the small turbocharger spinning, pushing power up to 84bhp.
The car ekes out an average 57mpg with its 85 horsepower engine--and that's even before an eco mode that cuts torque, boosting fuel economy further. AutoExpress says the car feels like a typical four-cylinder until it hits about 2,500rpm, at which point the little engine sounds more like a motorcycle. Luckily, due to some fancy balancing tricks, it doesn't feel like a motorcycle--the vibrations seem to be suppressed pretty nicely.
Even better, the 500 TwinAir emits only 91 g/km of CO2 emissions, less than the (admittedly much larger and more powerful) Prius, which emits about 104 g/km.
Its styling is just about identical to the normal Fiat 500, including the big retro dials and Blue&Me system, which remembers your driving habits and offers tips to increase fuel efficiency.
The Fiat 500 TwinAir will sell for $16,775 in Italy. No word yet on a U.S. release.
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com