The downsizing trend continues as the 2019 Fiat 500X receives a new 1.3-liter turbo-four engine that replaces existing larger units while offering similar power, more torque, and superior fuel economy. FCA’s new turbo-four belongs to its new Global Small Engine (GSE) family, and forms the foundations for FCA’s upcoming range of electrified powertrains that will more than likely end up on North American shores.
In the 2019 Fiat 500X, the 1.3T replaces the old 2.4-liter and the 1.4-liter turbo-four. With 177 hp and 210 lb-ft of torque, it has nearly the same output as the 2.4-liter but gobs more twist than either outgoing engine. You’ll also find this engine in the Jeep Renegade as an option on lower trims and standard equipment on the Limited grade and higher. Both cars see a bump in fuel economy with the 2019 500X checking in at 24/30 mpg city/highway even with all-wheel drive standard.
At the 2019 500X drive event in Malibu, California, MotorTrend spoke with Adam Remesz, head engineer for FCA’s GSE engine line for North America, to learn more about the engine. Remesz shows us cutouts for key components like the new direct piezo injectors, which help improve emissions and fuel economy. “We’re using a turbo that’s sized specifically for a vehicle like the 500X to maximize efficiency and performance,” notes Remesz. “We also added an electronically controlled wastegate to give you better response from the turbo.” As a result, peak torque happens at 2,200 rpm, that’s 1,700 rpm lower than the outgoing 2.4-liter unit.
FCA’s Multiair valve timing system has been updated for use in the GSE engine. Multiair-equipped engines use a hydraulic solenoid to allow the right amount of air to enter the combustion chamber. Remesz tells us that this iteration, which is in its third generation, is more accurate, enabling the engine to run more efficiently. An integrated exhaust manifold and electronic thermostat allows the engine to warm up faster.
Considering its size and the engines it’s replacing, we wouldn’t be surprised if FCA’s 1.3-liter turbo-four found its way into other models. If its dimensions are similar to the outgoing 1.4-liter unit, it’ll likely be the only gas engine offered across Fiat’s entire North American lineup. Fiat representatives couldn’t comment on future product but we’re suspecting it’s happening very soon.
In other markets, the 1.3-liter unit is also available in a lower-output flavor with 148 hp and 199 lb-ft. Should Fiat choose to power its whole lineup solely with that engine, the lower-output version could find its way into the standard 500 hatchback and 500c.The 177-hp version, as used in the 500X, will likely also end up in the 500L and 124 Spider. Abarth models could get their own specially tuned version with slightly more power than the one found in the 500X. A plug-in hybrid version of the 1.3-liter turbo-four was introduced earlier this year in Europe for the mechanically related Jeep Renegade in 190-hp and 240-hp flavors. In the U.S., we expect the latter to be the only version available.
The arrival of FCA’s GSE engine into U.S.-spec vehicles marks the start of Fiat’s move toward its electrified future. Hidden in last year’s five-year plan was a lineup of Fiat hybrids and full EVs. Expect those to appear within the next few years. An all-electric, next-generation 500 underpinned by a dedicated platform will be the first to arrive sometime in 2020 followed by a larger model likely to be called the Giardiniera.
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