The Fiat Panda Aria concept car marks the return of the twin-cylinder engine to cars, something which Fiat thinks is the next step to reducing fuel consumption and improving emissions. For the longest time, the smallest of cars like the K-cars of Japan have been using 3-cylinder inline engines. Fiat’s new SGE 900cc Turbo twin-cylinder engine knocks one off the cylinder count.

Fiat Powertrain Technologies decided to downsize from a conventional 4-cylinder engine to a 2-cylinder turbocharged engine. The engine incorporates Fiat’s Multiair electronic inlet valve control system (fancy word for throttle-less intake), turbocharging, and a Stop and Start device to reduce fuel consumption during heavy traffic. Two versions of the engine are available, with a third one under development.

The first variant is a 80 horsepower version that uses a petrol-methane fuel supply system. It runs on a mixture of 70% methane and 30% hydrogen. Then you have the Mono Fuel petrol-only version which puts out 105 horsepower. The third one currently being developed is a normally aspirated version making 65 horsepower.

The engine is 20% lighter and takes up 25% less space than a 4-cylinder engine that makes a similiar power output.

Other than the engine, the Fiat Panda Aria has a few other interesting features. The interior is upholstered with natural fibres, woven coconut fibre and biodegradable elements, while the exterior panelling is made of semi-transparent eco-resin and the structure is treated with opaque ‘totouch’ paint. Even the tyres are Pirelli’s experimental ultra-green tyres which use new compounds and new aromatic oil-free textile weaves.

One more rear shot after the jump.