Fiat Powertrain Technologies is to record another first in the technological arena, with the launch of the first factory-developed turbocharged dual-fuel petrol/LPG engine on the market, in the form of the 120bhp, 1.4-litre TurboJet. The new environmentally-friendly offering will debut on the Lancia Delta this month, expanding the company’s ‘Ecochic’ branding to the marque’s midsize offering.

‘Ecochic’, which denotes Lancias equipped with dual-fuel petrol/LPG engines, was introduced at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show, with the launch of this option on the 1.4 8V FIRE engine for the Ypsilon and Musa. Produced in collaboration with FPT and Landi Renzo, these dual-fuel models benefit from excellent range, on account of a 39-litre LPG tank fitted in the spare wheel well – the Ypsilon Ecochic can manage almost 1,300km without refuelling (425km on LPG plus 854km on petrol), and the Musa Ecochic almost 1,200km (419km on LPG plus 758km on petrol). The Delta TurboJet GPL will go on sale at Lancia dealers in Italy on October 24.

At 23,700 euros in Argento specification, the GPL Delta carries a 2,000 euro price premium over the standard petrol TurboJet 120. However, with the ‘eco-incentives’ being offered by the Italian government, the GPL could prove the cheapest Delta to purchase overall. The government is offering the maximum 2,000 euro rebate for purchasers of the LPG Delta, as the car ducks underneath the mandated ceiling of 120g/km of CO2; buyers thus automatically recoup the extra purchase price over the standard petrol car, at least until the end of the year.  If the purchaser is scrapping an old car, they also receive a 1,500 euro incentive from the government, matched by a further 1,500 euro rebate from Lancia. In this case, the total cost of a GPL Delta would be 18,700 euros. At current LPG prices, the cost to fill the Delta’s LPG tank is 23 euros.

The addition of an LPG option for the Delta foreshadows further mechanical updates in July 2010, when the stylish hatch will receive Euro 5-compliant updates on its petrol-powered 1.4 TurboJet engines. These will include the addition of Start&Stop and MultiAir, the latter of which will boost power from 120 and 150bhp to 135 and 165bhp respectively.  The Delta will also receive FPT’s new C635 gearbox, including a dual-dry-clutch option for the range-topping 1.8 TurboJet.

Fiat already offers an extensive range of LPG options on a variety of its cars, with the technology currently available on three FIRE engines: the 1.2 8V (Panda and Punto Classic), 1.4 8V (Grande Punto, Punto Evo and Idea), and 1.4 16V (Bravo). As well as its application in the Delta, the new engine will make its way under the bonnets of the Bravo and Punto Evo next year. Work has also commenced regarding the application of MultiAir across the GPL range.

In addition to LPG, Fiat also offers a range of ‘biopower’ engines under the ‘Natural Power’ banner. These engines can run on both petrol and methane. The technology is available on the 1.2 8V FIRE (Panda and Punto Classic), 1.4 8V FIRE (Grande Punto, Punto Evo and Qubo), and the long-serving 1.6 16V ‘Torque’ (Multipla and Doblò).

© 2009 Interfuture Media/Italiaspeed