Back in the 1960s, Italy was teeming with twin-cylinder Fiats, but their meager power outputs made them suitable for urban duty and little else. Outside of Italy, the two bangers never gained traction, maybe because Fiat's early two-cylinder models were lethargic. Thankfully, the the new TwinAir-powered Fiat 500 bares little resemblance to the meager mills of yore. Autocar recently spent some time at the helm of a Fiat 500 0.9-liter TwinAir Lounge model and walked away impressed. Mostly.
The TwinAir engine cranks out a healthy 84 horsepower and 107 pound-feet of torque at a low 1,900 rpm. In the pint-sized Fiat, this amount of power is adequate, though insufficient to turn the 500 into something even close to what we might consider quick. The 500's TwinAir mill is a smooth operator most of the time, but in high load situations (i.e. wide open throttle uphill runs) the engine pulses and emits a faint grumble. With that said, Autocar notes that the 0.9-liter engine capably propels Fiat's hatch to speeds of 85 miles per hour and provides more scoot off the line than you'd expect.
Autocar summed up the TwinAir mill like this:
They then capped off the review out with this final thought:Its free-revving nature and friendly burble 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.
Darn.Our only other concern is real-world fuel consumption. Almost 70 miles per gallon (58.3 U.S.) may be the official combined figure, but a trip computer reading of an unimpressive 37 mpg (30.8 U.S.) does not sound so promising.