The FIAT® 500 Turbo: The Devil in the Details

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  This blog comes with a warning. A warning that there are no pictures of a 500 taking a hairpin turn with precision, and there are no pictures of the latest celebrity event we sponsored. Nor are there any high-rez screen grabs of our new ‘Topless’ commercial. Instead, what you’ll find is an in-depth look at exactly what makes the FIAT® 500 Abarth give you shivers as you feel the pull of the 1.4L MultiAir® Turbo engine. Decades of sporting heritage may give the FIAT 500 Abarth its soul, but its heart is most definitely its 1.4L MultiAir® Turbo engine. Rated at 160 horsepower with 170 ft-lb of torque, the small engine produces big power efficiently partly through turbocharging, an increasingly mainstream performance technology. But how does a turbocharger help produce so much more horsepower, exactly? We sat down with our engineering team who designed the North American Abarth with a larger turbo and unique engine tuning for the US market. An engine’s performance is limited by the amount of air it can pull into the combustion chamber.  A turbocharger forces extra air into the combustion chamber which allows the engine to work more efficiently and produce more power. Put simply, a turbocharger works like two fans, connected at opposite ends of the same shaft.  A Turbo utilizes the normally wasted energy in an engine’s exhaust to spin a fan on one end of the shaft.  As the exhaust fan spins, the fan on the other end of the shaft spins to pull in and compress large volumes of fresh air (much more air than the engine could without a turbo).  This compression process is called “Boost”.  Compressing air in a turbo does create a problem, when air is compressed it heats up and hot air is not good for engine efficiency.    To maximize the turbocharger’s efficiency in the Abarth, the compressed air is routed through dual intercoolers, cooling the air before it enters the engine, allowing a cooler, denser air charge, which provides even more efficiency and more power.  In the Abarth, the turbocharger is capable of more than doubling the amount of air the 1.4 liter engine could pull in on its own.

 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth cutaway

The benefit to a performance car such as the Abarth is clear – on the track, turbocharging boosts both its power and torque safely and efficiently, allowing it to take on the world’s foremost race cars in stock form. The Abarth did just that at the 2012 Targa Newfoundland rally, placing second overall, taking top honors in the Next Generation Challenge (a separate contest for small performance cars) and winning the President’s Manufacturers Cup. Even on civilian duty, a turbocharged engine makes a difference – the 2,500-pound Abarth is capable of up to 34 MPG in average highway driving. FIAT use the same efficient turbo technology in other models such as the FIAT 500 Turbo and FIAT 500L (available summer 2013) spooling up to meet the needs of practically every lifestyle.  

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© 2012 FCA US LLC, FIAT, FIAT 500 POP, and ABARTH are registered trademarks used under license by FCA US LLC.

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© 2012 Chrysler Group LLC, FIAT, FIAT 500 POP, and ABARTH are registered trademarks used under license by Chrysler Group LLC.