The new turbocharged 'SuperFIRE' four cylinder 1.8 16v engine will appear shortly in updated versions of the Alfa 159 (replacing the existing 1.9 and 2.2 JTS engines), as well as Lancia’s Delta.


The first production iteration of the new 'Multiair' technology will be seen on the 1.4 T-Jet unit, currently to be found in the Alfa Romeo MiTo (above), Lancia Delta, and Fiat’s Bravo and Grande Punto.


The facelift for the Grande Punto, which comes four years after the car’s debut at the 2005 Frankfurt IAA, will also incorporate the initial application of Multijet 2.

Fiat Powertrain Technologies is gearing up for a big year, with a host of revolutionary technologies finally coming to fruition after years of development work.  Kicking off at the Geneva Motor Show in just under a month’s time, FPT’s plans for 2009 cover groundbreaking innovations in both the petrol and diesel engine sectors, as well as the launch of an important new transmission for the Fiat Group. 

The first of these developments is the launch of the latest ‘Family B’ SuperFIRE engine, the long-awaited four-cylinder 1.8 16V. Third in the new generation from this modular family, after the recently-launched 1.6 and 2.0 Multijet diesels, it pairs the bore from the 2.0 Multijet (83mm) with the stroke of the 1.6 (80.5mm) for a displacement of 1742cc. In its basic turbocharged form, it will feature standard direct injection and continuously variable phasing for both inlet and exhaust cams.

The new engine will appear shortly in updated versions of the Alfa 159 (replacing the existing 1.9 and 2.2 JTS engines), as well as Lancia’s Delta. The Delta will share its engine specification with the more highly-tuned 159s, developing 200bhp between 4750 and 5500 rpm, and 320Nm between 1400 and 3750 rpm (the 159s will also be available with a less powerful variant which offers up 170bhp.) This should enable a top speed of approximately 230km/h and a 0-100km/h time of around 7.8-8.0 seconds, along with combined fuel consumption of between 7.5-8.0l per 100km.

Alfa will offer the 1.8 with a choice of the M32 six-speed manual or the Aisin-supplied six-speed Q-Tronic automatic, while for the moment Lancia will pair the top Delta solely with the Aisin unit (although further transmission options, centered around the forthcoming C635 family, are expected to be made available later). 

The highest stage of tune, meanwhile, is reserved for the Brera and Spider. Launched at Geneva in 2005 and 2006 respectively, these cars have suffered from poor performance, due to a combination of hefty kerb weight and poor characteristics offered from the GM-derived JTS engines. Alfa has therefore elected to address these criticisms and will launch the 1.8 in a third specification during the year, cranking out 230bhp at 5750rpm and 350Nm from 1750rpm. This will enable the Brera and Spider to achieve a top speed of around 235-240km/h, with 0-100km/h coming up in approximately 7.2-7.5 seconds and combined fuel consumption of between 8.5-8.8l per 100km.

All of these output levels compare very favourably with current class benchmarks, such as VAG’s ‘EA888’ 2.0 TFSI motor. Currently available in two levels, the award-winning 2.0 TFSI develops 180bhp/320Nm or 210bhp/350Nm, emphasising the competitive outputs of the new Fiat unit.

Later in the year, the top-level 230bhp version is also expected to find its way into the MiTo GTA, mated to FPT’s brand-new dual dry-clutch transmission (DDCT). Work on the new C635 family of gearboxes (to be offered in manual, robotised and dual-dry-clutch forms) began in 2006, with Centro Richerche Fiat concentrating its efforts on the actuation and control system for the DDCT variant. Able to handle 350Nm of torque, the C635 will be fitted to various B-, C- and D-segment Fiat Group models. According to FPT, the DDCT combines the slick shifting characteristics of a conventional automatic with the efficiency of an automated manual – typically 10 per cent higher than a conventional automatic. Fiat has said that production of the manual version is planned to begin in June of this year, followed by the DDCT in September and the robotised variant in 2010.

Along with the launch of the direct-injection 1.8, March will also see the commencement of pre-production runs for two crucial engine developments which have been years in the making – Multiair electro-hydraulic valve actuation, and the next generation of common-rail technology for diesel engines, Multijet 2. These innovations will be steadily rolled out by the Fiat Group across its entire range of passenger cars over the next few years, as an integral part of the company’s stated aim to have the lowest CO2 emissions of any European carmaker by 2012.

Multiair is a refinement of the original ‘camless’ Uniair concept, which itself had been under ongoing development by Fiat’s engineers for over a decade. The Italian carmaker is alone in pursuing this technology, which offers the potential for continual valve adjustment and thus optimised efficiency – a key requirement under increasingly stringent future emissions regulations. FPT estimates that engines equipped with Multiair offer up to 20 per cent more torque, at lower revs, compared with a conventional mechanical system.  Power output also increases on average by between 10 and 15 per cent, with fuel consumption dropping by around 8 to 10 per cent, an improvement due mostly to the elimination of the conventional butterfly throttle valve, a component which severely interferes with the ability to optimise airflow in conventional engines.

Fitted with Multiair, the current 120 and 150bhp 1.4 T-Jet engines will be uprated to 135 and 165bhp, with corresponding improvements also in fuel consumption and emissions. The first production iteration of Multiair will be seen on these 1.4 T-Jet units, currently found in the Alfa Romeo MiTo, Lancia Delta, and Fiat’s Bravo and Grande Punto. The latter is expected to be the launch vehicle for this technology, due to be rolled out as part of a package of improvements for the top-selling supermini at the Frankfurt IAA in September.

The facelift for the Grande Punto, which comes four years after the car’s debut at the 2005 Frankfurt IAA, is also due to incorporate the initial application of Multijet 2. Fiat Group has long been at the forefront of diesel engine development, and pioneered both direct injection (1986 Fiat Croma TD i.d.) and ‘Unijet’ common-rail technology (1997 Alfa Romeo 156 JTD). Five years later, in 2002, the group debuted Multijet technology with the 140bhp 1.9 JTD 16V, before rolling it out across all of its diesel models, including the revolutionary 1.3 16V Multijet, or SDE (Small Diesel Engine). Multijet represented an advance over Unijet common-rail through its use of sophisticated electronic injector control to make more finely-divided injections than Unijet’s two, allowing better control of combustion noise, reduced emissions, and increased performance.

Multijet 2 now represents the next leap forward in refinement of the fuel delivery process. It consists of a brand-new system of injection pump and solenoid injectors, which will be supplemented in time with a further twin-piston pump development. The main improvement over existing Multijet injectors is in the system’s further improvement in the ability to finely control the fuel flow, to the notable benefit of emissions and low-mid-range torque.

Originally scheduled to reach production in late 2008, a slight delay in starting production means that the first SDE-engined cars with Multijet 2 should start appearing in production cars from September. With tighter Euro 5 emissions regulations being enforced from the beginning of that month, Multijet 2 will make a significant contribution to cutting NOx emissions without consumption and noise penalties, thanks to its ability to manage multiple injections with greater flexibility than the earlier Multijet system.

According to Alfredo Altavilla, CEO of Fiat Powertrain Technologies, Multijet 2 “will provide the same calibre of advantages as the original common-rail systems did 10 years ago”. Speaking to Engine Technology International magazine last year, he added that the results provided by the technology have been better than anticipated. “We have the (3-litre) V6 Multijet 2 diesels in test mules and the results for performance and CO2 are beyond our expectations,” he said. “We’re aiming for a base CO2 rating on the 3-litre Multijet 2 of 150g per kilometre.”

by Shant Fabricatorian

© 2009 Interfuture Media/Italiaspeed