Tuning the Fiat 500.
"The Cheeky chic 500 is back"
The stunning Fiat 500 has managed to steal the hearts of 100000's. The diminutive Fiat is a perfect blend of retro and modern chic! Of all the cars I have driven the Fiat 500 is the one that has you grinning from ear to ear. It certainly isn't the fastest but it certainly rates as great fun thanks in part to its pin sharp handling and nippy little engines.
The 1.4 and the turbocharged Abarth are the models of choice for your tuning project, we have seen power figures on the Arbarth approaching a positively silly 280bhp but we suggest you stick with a 200bhp ceiling or you sacrifice the handling and fun factor. The Fiat 500 is pretty small and light so even the 1.2 engine responds well to a bit of tuning but obviously the larger the engine the greater the rewards.
For the ultimate sleeper you could get the 1.4 and swap in the Abarth engine and toys to have a super quick, standard looking 500. A critic would suggest that it is probably easier to put standard trim on the Arbarth but this is not as much fun and you still have to find a place for the intercooler to go ie the Abarth front bumper!
Many of TorqueCars Fiat 500 owners uprate the handling of their cars as a priority, this will certainly increase your enjoyment of the car. We would go to a maximum drop of 35mm on most models. You risk rubbing on the arches if you go lower than this especially if you have 17inch wheels fitted.
Smaller engines do not provide much of a return in terms of power so start with a bigger engine. Engine swaps are a good option if you have the 1.2 but there are not many doner 1.4 engines around.
Upgrade your pads to improve braking and reduce the risk of fade. Ferodo DS-2500 sports pads come recommended by TorqueCars Fiat 500 tuning members. For better braking lose the drums on the rear (if fitted to your model) and get bigger discs all round. The 1.4T jet brakes is an easy upgrade for the smaller engined Fiat 500's.
Fiat 500 Tuning modifications.
You really need to keep as much low end power as you can and aim for a wide power band rather than a top end spike. Fast road cams offer one of the biggest performance gains as far as a bolt on part goes. Don't forget to uprate the fueling when you are increasing the power - it makes the car more thirsty. Uprating the injectors is another beneficial modification and will deliver sufficient fuel. Uprate the fuel pump to cope with the extra fuel requirements of your tuned 500s uprated injectors.
Fiat 500 Intake and Exhaust mods.
The next area for modification is the intake and exhaust. For small Fiat 500 engine sizes go with a washable panel air filter. On the 1.4 and turbo Abarth an induction kit will help increase power providing you address the problem of needing cold air but a panel filter still remains the staple option for most Fiat 500 tuning projects. Sports exhausts will certainly help air flow through the engine but do not go too large or you will reduce the flow rate. Stick to 2.0 to 2.5 inches for best results.
Head work including a polish and port and 3 or 5 angle valve job will really help to release the potential of the engine. When the time comes to replace the clutch on your 500 we suggest you get an uprated clutch and this will help transmit the power to the wheels.
Simple mods that most of our members have done include a decent exhaust system, a fast road cam, sports panel filter and remap should push the 1.4 engine to a credible 120/130bhp. The same mods on the Abarth will push power to around 165bhp! Add a bigger turbo to the Arbarth and you will see power hitting around the 200bhp mark.
We have seen some impressive supercharger conversion kits for the Fiat 500 1.4 engine which, due to the lightness of the car, really transform the performance and is a good option if you want to create an Abarth beater from a standard NASP 1.4!
Superchargers boost power in proportion to engine speed so is easier to map and if you run a modest boost there is no need to mess around too much with the engines internals, just get the fueling right. If you want to run bigger boost on a forced induction setup then you will need to address the problems that will arise. Decreasing the engines compression ratio will allow you to add forced induction, water injection may also help prevent detonation.
Fiat 500 Wheel modifications.
The benefits of alloy wheels include a lower unsprung weight and more efficient brake cooling. The downside to large alloy wheels on your 500 is that you alter your effective final drive ratio and this will have a detrimental effect on acceleration and performance. Although some people have gone larger we would stick to a 17 inch rim size as the maximum, the 1.2 will not be too happy with bigger and wider wheels though due to the lack of power and you should really stick with 16's.
For more information on Tuning your car please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss Fiat 500 tuning options in more detail with our resident Fiat 500 owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased Fiat tuning articles to get a full grasp of the benefits and drawbacks of each modification.
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