Plenty of skeptics wondered if Fiat's plan of offering a two-cylinder engine in its European subcompact models -- including the cheeky 500 -- was rooted more in nostalgia than common sense. The automaker, however, appears to have had the last laugh. Not only has the 875-cc two-banger been named the 2011 International Engine of the year, but the company plans on increasing the number of vehicles available with the so-called TwinAir mill.
Since debuting in the Fiat 500 a couple of years ago, the TwinAir engine has proven so popular with European consumers, the automaker is ramping up both production and the number of vehicles destined to use the engine. Reports suggest the Lancia Ypsilon may be offered with the tiny engine as early as May 24, while the TwinAir could appear in the Fiat Punto by the end of the year.
With a broader range of models offering the TwinAir, the automaker hopes to increase output to 100,000 units in 2011 (compared to the 14,000 built in 2010), and doubling production to 250,000 by next year.
This appears to be just the tip of the iceberg for the TwinAir. A new turbocharger system will be added to the engine in order to boost output to 105 hp, making it suitable for Fiat's forthcoming replacement for its Idea and Multipla minivans, which is due to launch in 2012. Fiat's Panda may take a greener approach, using a turbocharged 80-hp version capable of running on either gasoline or compressed natural gas to help curb emissions. CO2 output is expected to fall from 0.20 pounds per mile for today's 85-hp gasoline version, to a minuscule 0.18 pounds.
Fiat builds the TwinAir at its powertrain facility in Poland, which also the four-cylinder 1.3-liter Small Diesel Engine used by Alfa Romeo, Citroen, Ford, Fiat, Lancia, Opel/Vauxhall and Peugeot in both passenger cars and light commercial vehicles. Although Fiat has not announced plans to bring this engine to North America, with increased attention being given to fuel economy standards, we imagine every option could feasibly be on the table at one point or another.
So we ask you: would you buy a two-cylinder 500, or should two-cylinders remain in the motorcycle domain?
Source: Automotive News (subscription required)