What kind of chemistry do you have with your car? Love it? Loathe it? Let us know and you could win a £300 John Lewis voucher | No thanks

FIAT 500 TwinAir Economy

The EC Certification Tests for the FIAT 500 TwinAir give it 95g/km CO2 (so free annual tax and no London Congestion Charge).


But this also translates to a combined fuel economy figure of 68.9mpg, and no one seems to have come anywhere near achieving this.


I got 35mpg while filming it, ‘Autocar’ got 35.8, the boys at Top Gear got 38, George Fowler of The Star got 42 having fun and 62 driving it as economically as possible.


So what’s the truth?


My own 500 1.2 has averaged 48.83mpg over 11,750 miles. That isn’t the consumption meter reading (it resets every 2,000 miles anyway). It’s the fuel log of total fuel used over 11,750 miles.


Over Christmas and New Year I made two 600 mile journeys in it and the average over them was 46.91mpg.


So I wondered if the 500 TwinAir would beat it. Over the same journey. In similar conditions. Averaging the same speeds of around 58mph (300 miles in just over five hours). And today I found out.


After the first 300 miles the meter said 49.4mpg. After the second 300 miles, that had fallen to 48.3mpg. Taking the total 610 miles covered and dividing them by the 12.7 gallons of fuel used, it averaged 48.03mpg. Not shamefully short of the meter reading. And a little bit better than my 1.2.


Obviously the EC Certified figures were achieved in ‘Eco’ mode in which the TwinAir actually develops less power and torque than the old 1.2. The problem is, with the Eco mode switched of,f the 500 TwinAir is a hoot to drive. Almost as good as the 500 Abarth.


Which is why testers trying the car for a few hours or for a week on FIAT’s petrol only get 35mpg on the consumption meter.


And why, by judicious use of the Eco mode, I got 48.


But on the motorway, what sane driver wouldn’t leave it in Eco as much as possible? Why deliberately use more fuel than you have to in order to average pretty much the same speeds? Okay, you do find inclines you didn’t know existed, but it’s not that bad and if you lose too much speed you can always switch Eco off momentarily. M1 Southbound on a Sunday South of Leicester? You're lucky to do 60 and the fastest lane is the nearside. There are 17 miles of 50mph contraflow befoee you get to Luton. So why do you need to be in anything other then Eco?


85 miles of my runs were cross-country, over my favourite road that has every kind of corner (apart from hairpins, every kind of incline and every kind of surface ranging from racetrack smooth to rally stage rough.


Today, part of the route was washed out as well. The roads became rivers of muddy water that the surrounding fieds could not absorb.


That showed up the biggest difference between my 2008 500 and the current car with its vastly improved, much softer rear suspension.


Instead of hopping round corners, the TwinAir simply gripped, almost as well as an Alfa Mito set to ‘All Weather’. It was really that good.


If you have to drive into London regularly and want something that’s stylish as well as fun, and very low on BIK, a FIAT 500 TwinAir is the only obvious choice. Everything else that’s Congestion Charge exempt is a hybrid or a diesel, or is the Toyota IQ or the Hyundai i10 Blue.


Happily, though you won’t ever get anything like the EC combined mpg figure, you will do a lot better than 35mpg.


Even on a 600 mile run.





thecatisonmydesk    on 26 August 2012

Thanks for the truly valuable info, that I'd failed to find anywhere else yet. I was seriously considering buying a TwinAir 500 because of the claimed economy, though being realistic would have settled for anything over 55mpg. Now I can happily save a pile of money by buying a secondhand 1.2 instead.

   on 29 November 2016

Brought a 2012 Twinair last week with 40,000 miles recorded and love it.
Seems the best way to get the best out of it is to treat it like a diesel, goes like a rocket and is returning 53 mpg.
The big thrill though is just how much fun this is, like taking a new puppy for its first walk it just wants to run and play. Best car I've bought for ages.

Add a comment


Ask Honest John

Value my car