Tuning the Fiat 500.

"The Cheeky chic 500 is back"

The stunning Fiat 500 has managed to steal the hearts of 1,000,000'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 Abarth 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.

Tuning tips and articles

Engine tuning Transmission tuning Care care Intake & exhaust mods Improve handling Forums

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 Abarth 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!

Top end power should be your overall aim with a nice fat wide peak torque band.

With our hints your 500 can be transformed into a track car and prove to be reliable daily driver.

To be completely frank and honest, on the more modest engine sizes you are wasting your time spending money on modifications, so if this applies to you get yourself an engine swap then apply the following mods.

In standard form the Fiat 500 had us smiling from ear to ear, it certainly wins heart and looks stunning. When tuned the Fiat 500 is a totally new ball game and great fun track day car.

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 donor 1.4 engines around.

Fiat 500 Tuning Modifications.

These mods & performance parts are usually installed by our members, decide how far you wish to go in your tuning project before you start and make sure you have a clear plan.

Getting the right motorsport mods for your planned usage of the car is vital. Stage 3 motor sport mods just won't work well on the road difficult in stop start traffic. It would be shame to end up with an unfinished project because it was poorly conceptualized.

Please watch our video which covers the 5 principles of tuning your car. Be sure to keep up with our latest YouTube content and subscribe.

Best Mods for your Fiat 500

  1. Engine Tunes - engine tuning/remapping provides the most advantage in terms of cost savings,  aftermarket ECUs, and piggyback ECUs are all alternatives.
  2. Fast road cams are one of the most significant mechanical changes, but they must be installed by someone who knows what they're doing and they are not always easy to source but you might find a local firm to regrind a stock camshaft.
  3. Intake and Exhaust - Note that on their own these mods will NOT ADD POWER in most cases, but they can help enhance power after other mods by removing the restriction.
  4. Upgrades to turbochargers and superchargers - forced induction is the most efficient approach to increase air supply, allowing you to burn more fuel and make more power. It is one of the most costly upgrades but provides the best gains.
  5. Suspension and Braking Mods - the 500 is a very agile car and can be dramatically improved with a decent suspension kit.

Simple mods that most of our members have done include a decent exhaust system, a fast road cam, sports panel filter and tune/remap should push the 1.4 engine to a credible 120/130bhp.

Fiat 500 Tuning Stages

Typical stage 1 mods often include: Suspension upgrade (drop 25mm - 42 mm.), Panel air filter, Lighter flywheel, Sports exhaust, Engine Tunes/Remapping, Alloy wheels.

Typical stage 2 mods often include: Ported and polished head, Power/Sport clutch, high flow fuel injector, fuel pump upgrades, Fast road cam.

Typical stage 3 mods often include: Sports gearbox, Adding or upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger), Engine balancing, Internal engine upgrades (pistons/head/valves), Competition cam.

Peak power is all well and good but for a daily driven car you need a long torque band and perhaps extending the rev range.

The aim of our articles is to give a limited introduction of modifying upgrades and point you in the right direction, our forum is best place to go if you need more detailed advice and tips on your modified car project, the best motorsport modifications and all aspects of modding cars.


Fiat 500 tuning

Fiat 500 Handling/Suspension Mods

Many 500 owners uprate the handling of their cars with sports suspension modifications as a priority, this will certainly increase your enjoyment of the car.

Good suspension tweaks that substantially benefit handling for the 500 include a couple of degrees negative camber and 1-1.5 degrees of toe (set out to improve cornering or in for better stability) on the front wheels.

We suggest that you fit sports suspension and lower the car by 25mm - 42 mm. Larger drops require arch work - especially on models already equipped with performance suspension.

Suspension geometry dictates how a vehicle handles, and hence improving it is an excellent method to boost performance.

Fiat 500 Lowering Springs

Reduce the height of your vehicle to enhance handling. There are various brands of lowering springs available, but we recommend you have a chat with our forum members to determine the best setup for your 500.

Suspension Kits for Fiat 500

Investing in a suspension package is another cost-effective method of achieving a premium appearance and performance. These are complete packages preset to give a good ride height and maximize your performance.

Coilover Kits for the Fiat 500

Coilover setups often include rubber top mounts on both the front and rear axles to guarantee a comfortable ride at any speed.

They are intended to efficiently absorb heavy impacts, providing drivers with a very pleasant ride.

A Fiat 500 Coilover kit will also be adjustable allowing you to fine tune your suspension characteristics to suit your driving style.

Therefore, if you're seeking for a comparable sensation, consider investing in one of the high-end coilover kits.

Shock Absorbers for Fiat 500

As its name implies, shock absorbers are designed to absorb shocks and hence provide a more pleasant ride.

Fiat 500 Brake Upgrades

For greatly enhanced stopping put better performance pads and match this with larger brake discs.

Please note that race brake pads will be noisy and will need to be hot before they bit.

On your regular commute to work the brakes are occasionally used, therefore won't be all that effective so choose pads which work well in daily use.

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 Performance Camshafts

Upgrades to the Fiat 500's camshaft

Fast road cams offer one of the biggest torque gains for your money as far as a single modifications goes on a NA (naturally aspirated) engine.

Performance camshafts increase the power at higher RPMs and are more suited to gasoline engines than diesel engines. On the majority of engines, you can typically increase top-end power using performance camshafts.

Because the cam profile has a significant impact on the engine's power production, cam modifications may make a significant difference. Due to the fact that the intake and exhaust durations will vary depending on the cam profile used, substantial engine power improvements are possible with cam changes.

Fast road camshafts often boost performance over the rev range; you may lose some bottom-end power, but top-end performance will improve.

While race camshafts increase the top end band, the vehicle will not idle smoothly and bottom end power will almost always suffer.

On a daily driver, you'll want to match the horsepower range to your driving style.

I'd never recommend a Fiat 500 Motorsport cam profile for a daily driver it will be a total mare to drive in heavy traffic.

This is because a competitive cam profile produces a very lumpy idle and makes the vehicle more prone to stall or jerk along in stop-and-go traffic; unfortunately, many disregard this and wind up ruining a perfectly decent car by reverting to a fast road or OEM cam profile.

Each engine reacts differently when cams are installed owing to the head and flow characteristics, as well as the cam being less aggressive cam durations.

Therefore, see each engine and camshaft as unique due to manufacturing tolerances and quality variances, and set your engine up on a rolling road.

It maximises the intake and exhaust flow and pushes up the power if done right. Ideally you'd add other mods and finish up with a reflashed ECU. We'd also caution you not to go with a motor sport cam as this upsets the engines idling and general town driving characteristics.

Fiat 500 Fuel Upgrades

You will need to ensure that the engine is not starved of fuel so will need to look at the fuelling.

Most power losses, and erratic idling after kits are done can usually be traced to fuel delivery or timing issues.

Higher capacity injectors will enable you to supply sufficient fuel to the engine.

If you've uprated your fuelling with bigger injectors you will also need to get a bigger fuel pump to supply it.

Fiat 500 Intake mods.

The next area for modification is the intake and exhaust. For small Fiat 500 engine sizes go with a washable panel air filter. Air intake manifolds transport air from the air filter to the engine cylinders during the suck phase.

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.

Upgrades to the air intake system are the most critical component of any automobile modification. It is often the first area on which most car owners concentrate their efforts.

An air intake system increases the vehicle's air gulping capability as compared to the factory arrangement.

Head work including a polish and port and 3 or 5 angle valve job will really help to release the potential of the engine.

The same mods on the Abarth will push power to around 165bhp! Add a bigger turbo to the Abarth 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 fuelling 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 Exhaust Upgrades

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 inches for best results.

Only replace your exhaust if it is interfering with your performance. Most factory exhausts will flow easily even with minor power gains, but if you want to go much farther, you'll need a better flowing exhaust.

Racing exhausts may help enhance engine airflow, but a broader exhaust might lower flow velocity.

Aim for a thickness of 1-2 inches at all times. An aftermarket performance catalyst may be able to recoup that lost power without the need for illegal catalyst removal, allowing the car to remain road legal.

Because a sports catalyst's increased greater surface area eliminates this constraint and enables the vehicle to operate as it would without a catalyst, it is akin to a test pipe modification while still keeping your car street legal.

This suggests, and dyno runs confirm it, that a sports catalyst enhances performance to the level expected without a catalyst while still enabling you to drive your vehicle on public roads.

Because removing a catalyst is illegal in most countries and regions (and in others, even replacing a working catalyst is illegal), the catless mod or catalyst removal should be considered an off-road only modification.

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.

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 16 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 17's may rub on the wishbone if you're not careful.

If you would like to know more, or just get some friendly advice on Tuning your car please join us in our car forums 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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6 Responses to “Fiat 500 Tuning & best 500 performance parts.”

  1. EC says:

    I live in south america and I have a Fiat 500 Sport 1.4 liter engine(100hp) non turbo… I’m interested in upgrading my car’s power, basically I want to add a turbocharger upgrading about 30hp.
    My question is, what else do I have to change in the car and where can I find these elements including the turbocharger for this 500, even if I have to import them.
    I will appreciate any information

  2. james mcshane says:

    would you recomend a stainless seal exhaust

  3. René Elsner says:

    kvote: http://www.torquecars.com/fiat/500-tuning.php
    You say:
    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.

    I ask:
    Could you guide me to a site where i can find a compressor kit for my std. 1,4? it could be a rotrex “a like”
    I want to convert my 500 in to a “sleeper” without changing the engine. (i prefer Rotrex Compressor)

    best regards

  4. Kieran says:

    Hi there does any one know if I fit 17 inch alloys with low profile tyres to a fiat 500 will they scrape the arches with 4 people in the car or affect the car performance in any way ?

  5. joe says:

    I’ve fitted 17 inch and you have to just grind inside if the wish bone a little you’ll see where its got a little cut out

  6. Dominic says:

    Hi, i have a fiat 500s australian version. do this mods work with the euro market?

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