Fiat 500 Tuning

The Lowdown on "Fiat 500 Tuning"

The Fiat 500 is one of the best cars we have seen from Fiat in a long while. It already has a cult status due in part to it's fuel sipping engines and chic looks. It cashes in on the Original 500 which sold upto the mid 1970's.

It is a very popular City car and is everything the classic mini was. So what can be done to improve the Fiat 500 and where should you start your Fiat 500 tuning project.

Engines range from a tiny 1.2 to the supercharged 1.4 Abarth. The cars are very light and have go cart like handling and even engine mods on the smaller engines can be discerned by the driver.

Our choice has to be the 1.4 or the Abarth though as these reward you with a decent power gain and a very fun involving drive in your Fiat 500 tuning project.

If you have the 1.2 or 1.3 Diesel, you can get quite a few performance parts from the 1.4 engined models. A popular upgrade on these is the brakes as the 1.4 Abarth is endowed with some pretty good brakes, get those rear drums converted to disks as well and you will probably need to upgrade the master cylinder while you are at it.

Larger wheels do not seem to work well though as the smaller engines tend to bog down with the extra size. Stick with a 15 or 16 inch rim on the 1.0 and 1.2 and the 1.4 engined 500's look good with 17's but if performance is your thing then go with 16 inch rims and combined with some sensible suspension mods.

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A panel air filter, fast road cam, full sports exhaust system and a remap will push power on the 1.4 to around 135bhp and the Abarth will happily see nearer 190bhp with the same mods. Interestingly the Abarth, due to it's turbo engine can be pushed reliably to around 225bhp and there are a few with even higher power figures than this. The trouble with so much power in such a small chassis is terrible torque steer and a major traction issue.

The standard car is a great package until you want to push really hard like on a track day. Many Fiat 500 owners have reported brake fade when the pads get really hot, which is fairly normal for a "city car". The solution is to fit fast road pads like the Ferodo DS2500's and use a dot 5.1 brake fluid. Ideally you should upgrade the brake disks to larger vented and grooved discs, with bigger calipers but a reasonable improvement can be gained with better pads.

Beware though that some race spec pads are wholly unsuitable for the road and should not be used on an everyday commuting car. See this article on brake pads.

For more information on tuning your Fiat 500 we suggest you consult TorqueCars, comprehensive  Fiat 500 tuning article and also a very active, friendly and helpful new Fiat 500  forum where you can meet other performance Fiat 500 owners and swap tips with them.

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Please use our forums if you wish to ask a tuning question, and please note we do not sell parts or services, we are just an online magazine.

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