fiAT Uno turbo
Surely, if you look back in time until the beginning of the 90`s and you try to visualize the cars in the parking lots of the clubs in your cities or in the accesses to the rally stages, a lot of “Hot hatches” will come to your mind which shared the same philosophy: an engine with just over 100hp associated to a light and sporty chassis that delighted motorsport’s fans . Each brand used these ingredients in their own way, developing big displacement atmospherics such as the Peugeot 205 GTI, the Renault Clio Williams, the Opel Kadett GSI or the VW Golf GTI; or engines of smaller dimensions but supercharged like the Renault 5 GT Turbo, Fiesta RS Turbo and our protagonist today, which was the Italian bet with these characteristics, the FIAT Uno Turbo i.e.
The utilitarian would be revealed in 1985 with a 1.3 engine with Bosch electronic injection and a IHI turbo that delivers 105 CV. In 1988, FIAT incorporated improvements to the Uno, introducing new materials, more equipment, a new gearbox and the adaptation of the unleaded petrol engine. This model was a breath of fresh air for FIAT, which was going through a bad period, selling more than expected due to its competitive price and its high performance. It was noticeably cheaper than the PEUGEOT 205 GTI and the price was comparable to that of its most direct rival, the Renault 5 GT Turbo, which equipped carburetion and less equipment than the Uno Turbo. The Italian vehicle, according to reviews of that time, showed a similar behavior to its rival stands out slightly in terms of braking, direction and response. There were many similarities between them and in the end the choice was a matter of taste.
These were, among others, the reasons why the Italian brand decided to launch in 1989 the vehicle of our protagonist, Pablo, who was encouraged to buy it motivated, among other motives, because his family had had a version of the first FIAT Uno. The version presented in the year 1989 had a 1.4 turbocharged engine Garret T2 that was blowing at 0.8 bar, 0.2 more than its predecessor, with a multipoint BOSCH system with which reaches 118CV of power that, together with its lower aerodynamic coefficient, achieved thanks to the modernization of its exterior derived from the FIAT Tipo, allow it to exceed 200 km/h, improving the technical characteristics of the previous model.
In the case of Pablo’s car, the changes are remarkable, raising its original power to 140CV by replacing the turbo with a larger one, a camshaft with more valve overlap, an exhaust line and the optimization of the electronics as well as a lightened flywheel. These modifications provoked the car to be even more reactive than as standard, its owner tells us that he has problems to control it when loading the turbo, from 2500rpm, a slight pedal movement the vehicle radicalizes its behavior drastically making that it becomes uncomfortable when driving it in the highway. To improve the performance, this unit has yellow Koni dampers and sport springs, as well as larger diameter wheels from the Lancia Delta HF that are 14″ instead of the 13″ with which the standard one came out.
In terms of maintenance and reliability, Pablo tells us that he has not had any major problems, just some gaskets with oil leaks. Despite this, he tries to check and change the oil every time it goes to the workshop and when we asked him about the variations he intends to introduce Pablo highlights the need to check the gearbox and the clutch that, despite being reinforced, it is not able to support the engine torque, being essential to be cautious with the throttle. Once this is done, he will paint it to leave it perfect.
Considering the competition, due to the fact that FIAT didn’t develop the race cars officially, only a few ventured to develop the version to race, unlike the Renault 5 GT Turbo that was supported by the French brand. Despite of this, it competed as a Group N in trophies in our country and, as a noteworthy fact, we can stand out that Estanislao Reverter participated in the Rías Baixas Rally in 1986 in order to test suspensions and other improvements for its “Red FIAT Galicia” team.
In the end, as Pablo says, we are like children, only the size of our toys increases. Having the opportunity to drive the little Uno Turbo on a mountain road in his leisure time is a way to reduce the stress. For him, the sensations that a model like this transmits to him can’t be equated by any modern car.