Fiat Coupe Buying Guide: Powertrain

The 20v Turbo uses a Garrett turbo and has a Viscodrive limited-slip differential also seen in the 16v Turbo models. This is hassle-free and helps keep all of that power (mostly) in check as it drives through the front wheels. With the 16v Turbo, it needs a cambelt change at 36,000 miles or three years, while the other engine options require this work at 50,000 miles or five years, whichever is soonest.

220hp ensures the Turbos still feel quick
220hp ensures the Turbos still feel quick
The car will use oil and owners report a litre per 1,000 miles is not unusual. It's essential to keep the oil topped up to avoid premature camshaft wear in the 16v engine and you should also look for any signs of rust on the oil cooler pipes.

The auxiliary belt in all of the Coupe's motors should be checked too as, if this goes, it will take the cambelt with it. A cambelt change will be around £500 at a specialist and include a new water pump, tensioner and auxiliary belt. Contrary to what many will tell you, the engine does not have to be removed to fit a new cambelt in the Coupe.

The regular service interval for most Coupes is at the 12,000-mile/12-month mark. However, for the earlier 2.0-litre 16-valve models that share their engines with the Lancia Delta, you need to book them in at 9,000 miles or one year.

Cracked exhaust manifolds are common and cost £300 to replace. To spot this, keep an ear out for any ticking sounds when starting the motor from cold. Look for blue smoke on start-up as sign that turbo seals are on the way out. When talking to the seller, ask how they drive the car to get an idea of whether or not they let the turbo cool down after a long or fast drive. It's a good idea to let the car idle for at least a couple of minutes afterwards to let the turbo cool properly.

Limited-slip diff helps get that power to the road
Limited-slip diff helps get that power to the road
A failed thermostat will show up in the car being slow to warm to the correct temperature. While looking at the dash for any warning lights, also keep an eye out for the fuel injector one that could point to faulty oxygen or mass air flow sensors. It could also flag up a damaged spark plug. Any of these problems will also result in rough running.

Cam cover gaskets are prone to leaking, so best to budget for a new one as preventative maintenance on any car you buy. The cover itself can be damaged by overtightening of the bolts, but this can be sorted by specialists or replaced. You should also look to see if the car still has its original coolant cap and pipework. They leak as they get old, but as with most Coupe parts they are well within the scope of the home mechanic to replace with new items.

Gearboxes are strong on standard models, but listen for any noises in cars that have been tuned or used on track. A transmission fluid change is a wise idea if there's no evidence of it being carried out recently. Clutches should last well, but satisfy yourself the pedal is not too heavy in operation as it points to a worn slave cylinder. If the clutch is slipping, expect a significant discount on the car as this is a big job to replace. Earlier cars have a five-speed 'box and Fiat introduced a six-speeder on the 1998 model year Limited Edition and Plus models of 20v Turbo. This transmission then became standard on the turbocharged car from 1999.

16v Turbo is good; 20v is what you want!
16v Turbo is good; 20v is what you want!
Many owners will have fitted an aftermarket exhaust. How loud is acceptable is down to you, but reckon on spending £300 on a good cat-back system from the likes of Milltek or Super Sprint.

As well as an exhaust, many owners will have added power upgrades to the Coupe, though most tend to focus on the Turbo models for the easier gains to be had with these engines, usually with a simple remap. Whether you're looking to buy a tuned car or do the work yourself, the car needs to be in good health to begin with. In that state, you can add around 15hp to the 20v Turbo with a freer flowing air intake, uprated dump valve and crankcase breather.

To go further up the tuning ladder, you'll be looking at a remapped ECU, larger bore exhaust and a hybrid turbo, along with higher capacity injectors, a boost controller, improved fuel pump and charge cooler.

PHer's view:
"The car responds quite well to very simple performance mods (250hp for £50 and 300+hp for less than £500), so there are a lot of modified cars out there."
Nigel Ogram

Rolling Chassis
At a glance