The Fiat Seicento Sporting Proved 54 Horsepower Is Plenty

You don't need much HP when your car's (almost) light enough for two people to lift.

The Fiat Seicento Sporting is not the kind of car that will impress anybody peeling off a stoplight. But it sure as hell can rip around corners; it’s beloved by Euro car enthusiasts for good reason.

Motor oil’s in my blood, the uncles on my mom’s side have raced big Detroit iron down at the drag strip longer than I’ve been alive. Same with my brother, when I was four, he got his first car — a rear-wheel-drive G-body Monte Carlo. His love of Monte Carlos stayed strong, manifesting in his build of a 355 Cutlass (complete with a 4L60-E with one too many neural) when he got grown.

Me, though? That didn’t do it. I respected the fact those big Detroit hunks of steel were fast, I know my uncles and brothers put time and energy into making those things so fast.

But I didn’t like them. They wanted big and fast, I wanted small and quick. They wanted to do drag racing, I wanted to learn how to “rally race.” Years of playing games like Sega Rally, Forza Motorsport, Gran Turismo, and others developed my tastes in cars.

Now, that I’m grown and have a bit of cash, I want to experience those cars I liked in those games. The Fiat Seicento Sporting one of those cars.

The Seicento is an evolution of the Cinquecento before it, which was designed as a replacement for the old as heck Fiat 126. The new Ciqueceto was front engined, and front-wheel-drive, compared to the rear-engined, RWD layout of the old 126. The Cinquecento was a big success, selling over a million units between 1991 and 1998.

In 1997, the Cinquecento was heavily revised. They switched up the bodywork, made it a slight bit more refined, and dropped the twin-cylinder unit from the old Fiat 126, which was still in production, as the 126p. Here’s a cool design post on Facebook that isn’t embeddable, but worth checking out if you’re interested.

The Seicento Sporting was the hot trim of the Seicento. There, the 900cc engine was replaced with a 1.1-liter engine, producing a claimed 54 horsepower. Power went to the front wheels via a close-ratio five-speed manual. The suspension was made a tad bit firmer. Aesthetically, you got a racy little body kit and some sportier seats inside.

The Fiat Seicento Sporting Proved 54 Horsepower Is Plenty
Image: Fiat

Stay with me here — 54 HP is probably the slowest car that anyone at Car Bibles will ever chat romantically about. Obviously, the Seicento isn’t fast, 0-60 came in about fourteen seconds. The Seicento was light on options, with ABS and power steering being extras. It didn’t crash well, either, only getting one-and-a-half stars in the EuroNCAP test.

But everyone loved it. If you Google search “Fiat Seicento Sporting” you’ll be inundated with reviews of people who raved about its fast steering, and “charming character.” The car was slow but easy to wring the snot out of and have fun within the legal limit on city streets. Even in a modern automotive landscape, people still loved the thing. HonestJohn put the Seicento Sporting in its “Hidden Heroes” series and claimed even the 39 HP non-Sporting trim was entertaining to drive.

Low curb weight, agile handling, cheap price, and make these cars fairly popular on hill climbs and tight technical racing.

The Seicento is just a hair too new to be imported… yet. I want to see what the hype is about, I think I need to import myself one of these in a few years.

Kevin Williams
Kevin Williams

Kevin's been into cars his entire life, anything from the tiny kei cars in Japan, to the maybe not-so-good American barges of the 1980s. He's flipped more than 25 cars, only lost money twice, and has known how to make his dollar stretch as far as it can. If he ain't talking about cars, he's probably snacking on something sweet and cakey. Contact the author here.