Alfa MiTo Gets Into MultiAir

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FIAT has confirmed its ground-breaking new MultiAir electro-hydraulic valve control technology will debut on Alfa Romeo’s all-new MiTo in Europe from September, before becoming available in Australia during the early 2010.

The Fiat Punto-based MiTo three-door, Alfa’s smallest model ever since the classic Alfasud of the 1970s, will be officially launched here on July 7, when two turbocharged 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine variants will be available.

Manual-only 88kW/114kW and 206Nm/230Nm variants will both be priced below the three-door 147 2.-litre hatch ($37,990) they will effectively replace.

As previously reported, Australian Alfa importer Ateco Automotive also offers Australian Design Rule certification for 66kW 1.3 and 88kW 1.6-litre JTD turbo-diesel versions of the MiTo, which may also go on sale here at a later date.

From the launch the following month, both 1.4 turbo-petrol MiTos should come standard by using a Q2 electronic differential, electronic stability ABS and control, seven airbags together with a driver’s knee airbag, air-conditioning, power windows/mirrors, remote central locking and 16×7.-inch alloy wheels.

Apart from a quicker (eight versus 8.8-second) -100km/h claim, the top-shelf MiTo will include extra equipment including front foglights, while options across the range will incorporate gas discharge headlights, daytime running lights and 17 and 18-inch alloy wheels.

Alfa Romeo2009 MiTo center imageFrom top: Fiat’s MultiAir valve train, Alfa MiTo, Alfa MiTo GTA concept.

Of the two new MultiAir engines announced this week by Fiat, Australians are likely to the coming year see only the top-shelf 155hp (115kW) version, which in Europe will be exclusively badged as the MiTo “Quadrifoglio Verde” (green four-leaved clover).

As part of MultiAir’s first application, Europe’s MiTo will also receive two further naturally-aspirated and turbocharged 1.4-litre ‘Fire’ engines, producing 78kW and 100kW and mated to six and five-speed manual transmissions respectively. A twin-clutch automated manual is likewise mated with MultiAir engines next year.

In the other end from the spectrum will be an eventual MiTo range-topper, as previewed by the MiTo GTA Concept and complete with Fiat’s new direct-injection 1.7-litre turbo four offering up to 180kW to challenge Mini’s Cooper S.

First revealed earlier this year, Fiat says its revolutionary MultiAir Electronic Valve Control technology will be as big an automotive development as fuel-injection was in the 1970s and common-rail diesel injection is in the ‘90s, but does apply to any kind of internal combustion engine.

Indeed, MultiAir diesel engines will also be being developed and Fiat says its Start&Stop idle-stop system will debut inside the MiTo with MultiAir engines.

The next application will be the new 900cc twin-cylinder SGE (Small Gasoline Engine) MultiAir engine announced in February, that will debut on a new model that Fiat says are often more efficient than the usual hybrid for a fraction of the charge.

A dual-fuel petrol/natural gas (CNG) version in the turbocharged version is promised to return standard-setting CO2 emissions of less than 80g/km, before MultiAir technology is integrated with direct-injection and spread across various-displacement engines for models right across the Chrysler and Fiat groups.

Fiat states that compared to a traditional petrol engine with the same displacement, MultiAir engines increase power by approximately 10 per cent and torque by around 15 per cent, while reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by up to 10 per cent, as well as particulates and NOx by up to 40 and 60 percent respectively.

A downsized turbocharged MultiAir engine is said to produce the same performance as a naturally-aspirated engine while reducing fuel consumption by 25 per cent.

It does so, says Fiat, by employing an electrical-oriented camshaft, early intake valve closing strategies to maximise the atmosphere mass trapped in the cylinders, reduced pumping losses, optimised valve control strategies during warm-up and internal exhaust gas recirculation (by reopening the intake valves in the exhaust stroke), and constant upstream air pressure.

The very first MultiAir 1.4s will likely be produced by Fiat Powertrain Technologies at Termoli in Italy.