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18.02.2009 FIAT REGATA SEDAN BOASTED 'STOP-START' TECHNOLOGY MORE THAN TWO DECADES AGO

FIAT REGATA ES

Much attention has focused recently around Fiat's new Start&Stop technology, however the claims that this is a groundbreaking introduction for a Fiat model are in fact quite wide of the mark: more than two decades ago the long-forgotten production Fiat Regata ES sedan (above) fully incorporated this fuel economy improving concept.

Much attention has focused recently around Fiat's new Start&Stop technology, however the claims that this is a groundbreaking introduction for a Fiat model are in fact quite wide of the mark: more than two decades ago the long-forgotten production Fiat Regata ES sedan fully incorporated this fuel economy improving concept.

Today fluctuating fuel prices, the search for more environmentally conscious technology, 'green' consumer fashion, and a deep global financial recession see car manufacturers the world over engaged in a desperate bid to make their cars ever leaner and more fuel efficient.

Fiat's Start&Stop system, developed by Bosch and Fiat Powertrain Technologies, switches off the engine automatically (without the driver turning the ignition key) whenever traffic conditions bring the car to a complete halt, and restarts it when the driver wants to move off again. It's arrival in full production format came late last year on the Car of the Year 2008 award winning Fiat 500, and it can squeeze an extra 5 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres out during the urban cycle. Start&Stop is being rolled out across the range of the new Fiat 500C cabrio that will debut at next month's Geneva Motor Show.

However more than two decades ago the Regata, Fiat's robust C-segment 3-box sedan of the day, incorporated technology that produced the same result. Introduced at the Frankfurt IAA in 1983, the Regata was based on the Ritmo/Strada hatchback with a slightly stretched wheelbase, and its model range kicked off with the entry-level Regata 70 (1301cc/68 bhp) rising up to the range-topping Regata 100 (1585cc/100 bhp). A popular estate derivative swiftly followed (the Regata Weekend) as well as automatic versions and in 1986 the car received a facelift which included the arrival of fuel injection to replace carburettors across the engine range. The sedan continued in production until 1990 when it was replaced by the Tempra. Uninspiring styled and now almost forgotten by time, the Regata however sold in very decent numbers right across Europe to help maintain a very solid presence for Fiat in C-segment, a key market category that the Italian carmaker is today trying to rebuild its presence in after its two most recent contenders, the Stilo and Bravo, failed to connect with consumers.

The Regata ES however broke ground with its stop-start technology in the early 1980s. Fitted with the 1,301cc '149 A 3000' engine that powered the Regata 70, there were however a number of important differences: the compression ratio was higher (9.6:1), the valve timing was evolved, it was fitted with Magneti Marelli's "Digiplex" electronic ignition system and it incorporated a fuel cut off device that was part of the Weber 30/32 DMTE 1/250 carburettor. The changes were concluded by the Regata ES's unique "Citymatic" system that switched the engine off when the car was stationary at road signal lights or in heavy traffic. Maximum power was 65 bhp at 5,800 rpm, with the torque levels unchanged from the Regatta 70 version. Performance was almost identical to the Regata 70, however fuel economy was improved: 5.2 litres/100 km at 90 km/h and 7 litres/100 km at 120 km/h during the extra-urban cycle, 7.4 litres/100 km for the urban cycle and 6.7 litres/100 km for the combined cycle.

Visually there were just subtle differences to identify the ES version: a specific badge on the boot lid, uniquely patterned and slotted wheel hub caps, opaque plastic wind deflectors on either front door and a plastic rear spoiler that was designed to add improvements to the aerodynamic efficiency and bring more substance to the whole energy saving theme of the car.

Additional reporting: Vernon Pedersen
 

2009 Interfuture Media/Italiaspeed