Fiat 500 and 500C with the revolutionary TwinAir 85 HP two-cylinder engine
A memorable event was organised, once again in Turin, on 4 July 2007 to introduce the new Fiat 500, exactly 50 years after the Fiat 500. Since then, the second generation of the model that epitomised the history of Italian cars was quick to conquer everyone’s hearts. For the many enthusiasts and customers worldwide, Fiat decided to celebrate each birthday of the little 500 with special events and by introducing highly interesting innovations. In 2008, picnics were organised in the main European capitals and the powerful 500 Abarth was introduced. The same happened in 2009 for the international presentation of the Fiat 500C, the original cabriolet version, which pays homage to the style of the 1957 open top, which received over 32,000 orders in only a few months. And today, to celebrate the model’s third birthday, Fiat is introducing an innovative TwinAir two-cylinder 85 HP (900 cc), which will be marketed starting from next September on the 500 (saloon and cabrio alike).
The first of a new family of two-cylinder engines made by FPT – Fiat Powertrain Technologies, it implements the revolutionary MultiAir system combined with specific fluid dynamics optimised for maximum fuel efficiency. Furthermore, by taking the concept of downsizing to the extreme and masterfully tuning the basic mechanics, the new family – delivering from 65 to 105 HP – emits 30% less CO2 than an engine of equal performance.
Significantly the new TwinAir 85 HP two-cylinder engine will complement the many technological solutions already adopted by the Fiat 500 to contain consumption and emissions as demonstrated by the recent expansion of the engine range, now featuring a second-generation 1.3 MultiJet delivering power of up to 95 HP. With 8 injections per cycle, the 1.3 MultiJet II improves low rpm torque delivery by up to 38% and cuts CO2 emissions by 6%. Again with a focus on environmental protection, the Fiat 500 (saloon and cabrio) is available with Start&Stop, the system which temporarily stops the engine and starts it again when the car is stationary with the engine idling: this reduces urban cycle average consumption by up to 12%. The principles of the Fiat 500 range are also implemented in eco:Drive, innovative software for analysing driving behaviour and helping motorists optimise consumptions and emissions by using the USB port of the Blue&Me system.
In short, the Fiat 500 perfectly expresses the commitment of Fiat in the field of environmental protection and encourages users to adopt a more responsible, eco-friendly use of the car. It is no coincidence that, for the third year in a row, Fiat is the most environmentally-friendly of the top-selling 10 car brands in Europe, with an average CO2 emission level of 127.8 g/km, compared to the market average of 145.8 g/km (analyses carried out by the independent institution Jato Dynamics). A fundamental boost to obtaining this result was certainly given by the extraordinary growth of methane, the most eco-friendly and cost-effective fuel available on the market today. A forward-thinking direction chosen over ten years ago, that has made Fiat the undisputed European leader in factory-fitted methane systems (OEM), as demonstrated by nearly 400,000 units sold to date in the Natural Power range, which includes 14 bi-fuel (methane/petrol) models – cars and commercial vehicles – for responding to all mobility needs.
Perfectly in line with this environmental protection commitment, the brand new TwinAir 85 HP is a further step forward that will certainly increase the commercial success and international appreciation of the Fiat 500, already demonstrated by the 52 awards assigned worldwide and the goal of 500,000 units made which was reached last April, only 31 months after its release. A web initiative called “500 Thousandth” was launched to celebrate this record with the goal of creating a show car with a body completely covered with 1500 photographs of the faces of owners, celebrities and enthusiasts who contributed in various ways to the car’s extraordinary success. The Fiat 500 Thousandth is the first “collective car”, confirming the spirit of the original model with potential customers being involved from the earliest steps of design. Since 3 May 2006 and for the first time in automotive history, scores of 500 enthusiasts worldwide have been directly involved in the “500 wants you” project, an international marketing platform, and given the opportunity of saying what they want from the future car. The suggestions were picked up by Fiat Automobiles designers and engineers and turned into practical objectives to be reached with solutions and equipment as close to the expectations of potential customers as possible. In short, the Fiat 500 is truly “a car created by the people, with the people’s ideas”. Today, fiat500.com is a community of 120,000 active users from 206 different countries who are involved in over 30 online activities. The web pages have been browsed nearly 240 million times.
As an expression of Italy’s finest automotive design, the 500 is not merely a super-compact city car, but a real platform upon which Fiat Automobiles is building a whole family of cars with technology and attention to detail worthy of a higher category. That’s without forgetting that the Fiat 500 has introduced many innovations and achieved important records in its segment. For example, in 2007, it was the first car only 3.55 metres long to be awarded 5 EuroNCAP stars. Similarly, the adoption of seven standard airbags (it is the only compact to include knee bags) and the availability of advanced ESP for all engine versions (standard on the 1.4 16v 100 HP) was an absolute “première” in this class. That’s without counting that even back in 2007, the entire engine Fiat 500 range was already compliant with Euro 5 standard emission limits, three years ahead of the legal deadline. Last but not least, Fiat 500 was the first small car to offer such a wide, articulated range, typical of higher range models: by combining different versions, engines, interiors, upholstery, body colours, rims, accessories and so on, customers could choose from over 500,000 variants. Product innovations also came in thick and fast: 500 by Diesel (September 2008), 500 Pink (June 2009), 500C (July 2009), 500C by Diesel (June 2010).
Finally, Blue&Me – TomTom, the latest evolution of the Blue&Me system, will be appearing on the Fiat 500 along with the new TwinAir engine. Blue&Me – TomTom is a fully integrated infotainment system that lets you manage telephone, navigation and useful driving information functions using a practical colour touch screen interface. Furthermore, with the launch of the solution on the Fiat 500 a new mediaplayer feature will be introduced that further strengthens the Blue&Me – TomTom proposition.
Blue&Me – TomTom is conveniently and elegantly accommodated on the dashboard of the Fiat 500 to combine the safety and convenience of an integrated solution with the flexibility of portable devices. The device is the result of a partnership between Fiat Group Automobiles and TomTom, the European leader in portable navigation systems, and integrates with the car’s other systems via the Blue&Me system developed in collaboration with Magneti Marelli.
Presentation to the press on the Valentino circuit
The Fiat 500 TwinAir was presented to the international press in Valentino Park, the most famous, and oldest public park of Turin, located on the left bank of the Po river, between the monumental Umberto I (corso Vittorio Emanuele II) and Isabella (corso Dante) bridges. Home to a very rich variety of plants and birds, Valentino Park was the stage of a Formula 1 Grand Prix of the same name until 1955. In brief, a suggestive location that well embodies the combination of “power and environmental-friendliness” embedded in TwinAir technology.
The origins of the park are remote in time: the name “Valentino”, of unknown origin, first appeared in the Middle Ages and since the 1600s identified a castle, one of the Residences of the Royal House of Savoy and included in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list, and the surrounding grounds. The Valentino Park, then not public, was first landscaped in 1630 by Carlo Cognengo di Castellamonte and the project was followed up until 1660 by his son Amedeo.
A new urban phase started for Turin in the second half of the 1800s following the destruction of the city walls ordered by Napoleon and the population spiked. The modern concept of a public park came about at that time and city authorities thought of the Valentino Castle grounds. Works started in 1863-1864, based on a partial project by French architect Barillet-Deschamps. Inspired by the principles of a landscaped park with lanes, thickets and artificial dells, the project also included a small riding track and a lake (later dried) which was used as a skating rink in winter.
Even before its completion, the park staged several important national and international expositions from 1829 to 1961. A so-called medieval village and castle, a composite reconstruction, picking various styles and architectonical elements from medieval buildings in Piedmont and Valle d’Aosta, was built in 1884 for the General Italian Exposition. The park assumed today’s proportions after the 1911 exposition.
In 1935 the Italian car capital set up a racing circuit precisely in the Valentino Park area. It was 4088 metres long and the first event, which was held on 7 July, was an immediate success: Tazio Nuvolari won with Alfa Romeo, ahead of team mates Antonio Brivio and Carlo Pintacuda. Nino Farina came in fourth at the wheel of a Maserati. The starting line was in front of the Valentino Castle and the circuit was mostly inside the park. It was not an easy task to erect mobile grandstands for the audience and a tower for race officials and the press.
The event was repeated two year later, on 18 April 1937. Once again, Alfa Romeo dominated the most important class (GP single-seaters). The race was won by Antonio Brivio, followed by Nino Farina. The driver from Turin had in the meantime joined the Milan-based team. The race was 175 km long in total and the course was particularly twisty, which accounted for an average speed of only 93.629 kilometres per hour. For the sake of comparison, the Monte Carlo winner (Von Brauchitsch on Mercedes) clocked an average speed of 101.815 kilometres per hour.
The race was interrupted for a long time and resumed only after the war, when the automotive industry was attempting to pick up and restart production despite many difficulties. Competitions were in any case important test benches for advertising products.
Automobile Club Torino, on their part, invested considerable efforts and managed to set up the circuit that hosted the First Turin Grand Prix on 1 September 1946. Racing regulations were changing and although a genuine world championship was still to be organised, there were many prestigious events in which major auto makers could compete. Turin was one of these. The circuit set up was meticulous and the public responded enthusiastically. The event was international although only supercharged Alfa Romeo 158s ever won. The results were topped by Achille Varzi and Wimille. The average speed of the winner on the 283.200 km long race was 109.088 km/h because the circuit had been made faster by including a few stretches of corso Massimo D’Azeglio. Sommers of Maserati came in third. Tazio Nuvolari was forced to withdraw. The event continued after the GP with the Coppa Brezzi for cars without turbocharger and displacement of approximately 1500 cm3. Cisitalia 1100 cm3 built by local Piero Dusio dominated the class. Many champions, such as Chiron, Taruffi and Nuvolari, were invited to take part. The latter was involved in an episode that would go down in history. His steering wheel attachment snapped while he was heading the race. Not one to be put off easily, the driver drove a few more laps steering with the little lever used to fasten the wheel but he was eventually stopped by the race officials. The race was won by Dusio, a good driver as well as auto builder.
Ferrari put its name on the roll of honour a year later with Sommers driving to win at an average speed of 108.825 on a remarkable length of 540 km.
1948 was the most prestigious edition of the event. The Italian Grand Prix took place in Turin with the best drivers of the time on the starting line. The race took place during the first weekend of September under the beating rain. The strong Alfa Romeo (Wimille, Trossi and Sanesi) and Maserati (Villoresi, Ascari and Taruffi) teams clashed with the Ferraris of Farina, Sommers and Bira and the Talbots of Chiron, Rosier and Comotti. Many accidents occurred during the race. At the end Wimille drove the only remaining Alfa to the win one lap ahead of Villoresi’s Maserati.
The first Formula 1 World Championship was organised in 1950 and the Italian race took place on the Monza circuit. There were no races in Turin for two years and the Valentino circuit was to host another competition in 1952. The Turin Grand Prix was won by Gigi Villoresi of Ferrari. The Sport class animated the city circuit in 1953 and 1954, while 1955 was the last edition of the Formula 1 GP won by Alberto Ascari on Lancia, after an exciting duel with Luigi Musso of Maserati. The new Formula 1 cars were by now extremely fast. Ascari won at an average of over 141 km/h.