12.09.2006

Sophisticated technology and out-and-out sportiness


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The Grande Punto is unique in the world panorama, designed and built to be the new benchmark in design terms, introducing the idea of more imposing dimensions. The model also reaches safety and quality standards that are particularly high for its segment as evidenced by its prestigious five star Euro NCAP ranking. It also offers the best range of diesel engines and, lastly, offers a very competitive price/content ratio. Visitors to the Paris show can admire the latest new features added to the model in terms of power units, specifications, high-tech in-car entertainment and telephony.


Dualogic gearbox and 1.4 16v Starjet power unit

The Grande Punto range has become even broader and more diverse with the introduction of the Dualogic gearbox and the new 95 bhp 1.4 16v Starjet.
Firstly, the new 95 bhp 1.4 16v Starjet (EURO 4) applies three technologies at the same time for the first time in the world. It adopts a variable swirl combustion chamber system based on an intake manifold with phased Doppler anemometry (PDA), combined with variable valve timing (VVT) controlled by the injection control unit. This system allows a substantial part of the exhaust gas (EGR) to be recirculated to the combustion chamber to significantly reduce fuel consumption and exhaust emissions.
This is how it works. One of the two intake ducts is closed (deactivated duct) while the other stays open. The air taken into the open intake duct swirls around the cylinder axis to increase air turbulence inside the chamber. The continuous variable valve timing system delays exhaust valve closure due to an internal gas recirculation device to ensure that both cool air (from the intake duct) and part of the exhaust gases are present during the intake phase. The resulting mixture is responsible for a significant reduction in fuel consumption and exhaust emissions.
So much for the innovative power unit. The Fiat Grande Punto also offers Dualogic, a robotised manual sequential gearbox that offers maximum comfort and low fuel consumption (up to 9% less) in automatic mode, after experiencing all the satisfaction of a sporty, dynamic drive in manual. The sophisticated device, available on the 77 bhp 1.4 petrol unit and the 90 bhp 1.3 Multijet, is available as an option at a very attractive price. In detail, the Dualogic gearbox automates the clutch controls and gear lever by means of a hydraulic servo device to retain all the attributes of a dry clutch and manual gearbox (weight, strength and reliability, low energy consumption). Two operating modes are available: semiautomatic (manual) and automatic.
The first is more similar to manual operation and allows you to change gear using a joystick on the tunnel. Because no clutch pedal is present, the device is controlled simply by moving the lever: forward to change up (towards the ‘+’ symbol), back to change down (towards the ‘–’ symbol). A simple push is sufficient to ensure the transmission performs a fast, accurate gear shift.
The second mode offers two settings: Normal and Economy. Normal mode offers outstanding driving comfort to assure dazzling gearshifts in all conditions. Economy mode is used to reduce fuel consumption while still maintaining top level handling and driving comfort. With both options, the system adapts the rpm to a new higher ratio, when the engine delivers maximum torque or power. In automatic mode, the system recognises the road gradient (by means of a software algorithm) and modifies the gear shift point to ensure the best possible compromise between the driver’s needs, ground conditions and vehicle situation (speed and engine rpm) at all times.
The Dualogic also offers other advantages over conventional manual and automatic gearboxes.
Firstly, the system may read the driver’s needs and thus adapt to his driving style. To do this, it analyses the engine rpm and maps the pedal position (interpreted as performance requests with rising speed).
Another specific feature of the Dualogic is its ability to assess vehicle deceleration and adjust downshifts. In semiautomatic mode, for example, the system allows downshifts, particularly when the driver demands a lower gear to take a corner at speed during a sporty drive. In automatic mode, the system anticipates the downshift to ensure the driver can always call on the most appropriate speed to maintain the required comfort level or fuel saving.
To ensure safety and prevent unwanted gear changes, the system engages neutral when the engine is still running and the door has been opened. Lastly, the Dualogic device also activates warning lights and buzzers to notify the driver of emergency situations or manoeuvres that are not permitted and could damage the engine or gearbox. With the Dualogic gearbox in automatic mode, its robotised electronic management system allows the gears to be changed at the time of maximum engine performance. This makes it possible to exploit all the power and torque of the 1.4 petrol and 1.3 Multijet engines and achieve a distinct improvement in acceleration over a manual gearbox. In automatic mode with the Economy key engaged, the Grande Punto consumes less fuel than a manual gearbox. Fuel consumption with the Dualogic fitted is 5.7 compared with 5.9 l/100 km for the 1.4 petrol and 4.5 versus 4.6 l/100 for the Multijet. The most substantial benefits are achieved around town: 6.8 compared to 7.5 l/100 km for the 1.4 petrol and 5.8 compared to 5.9 l/100 for the Multijet.
The engineers therefore succeeded in imposing a set of gearshift settings that reduce fuel consumption without reducing performance and thus driving satisfaction due to the device’s small size and low weight. Not least, the price of the new device is significantly lower than that of a conventional automatic transmission. Lastly, no fewer than 11 model versions may be equipped with the Dualogic, with a choice of two power units and 6 specifications (Active, Dynamic, Emotion, Speed and Freeride): it is the broadest range in its category.


‘Blue&Me®’

All the cars on show are fitted with the ‘Blue&Me®’ accessory, a sophisticated device that is absolutely unique in the world. This Windows Mobile-based system, created as a result of a joint venture between Fiat Auto and Microsoft, changes the paradigms of in-car communication, information and entertainment to improve comfort and the quality of time on board.
The device is extremely simple to use, and allows you to make/receive telephone calls and to listen to music simply and safely as you drive. And thanks to Bluetooth® technology, you can also communicate with the outside world from the car using your own personal mobile phone or hand-held computer.
The system on offer will be supplemented in future with more advanced devices giving access to the many new products that technological progress has in store for the coming years: from a complete multimedia system to satellite navigation. Not to mention a whole range of services that will make all your journeys more comfortable, safe and easy.
The ‘Blue&Me®’ device incorporates a sophisticated hands-free system with voice recognition that guarantees maximum driving safety in all conditions, and respects the law because drivers can use the system without taking their hands off the wheel. The system allows drivers with a Bluetooth® mobile phone to use the telephone even if it is in a jacket or a bag, automatically lowering the volume of the radio (when this is on) and routing the other person’s voice through the stereo speakers. The system is also extremely compatible with all mobile phones currently on the market and can be updated to comply with new standards and future telephones.
The Grande Punto handsfree device is built into the car and the control keys are positioned on the steering wheel for immediate, safe access to the system; the driver can find a number in his phone book by scrolling through the control panel display, or mute the call for confidentiality.
One interesting feature is the fact that the mobile phone has to be registered with the system once only. And more: it is also possible to transfer a personal phone book to the car in full, automatically updating it every time the system recognises a mobile phone.
Privacy is guaranteed because access is only granted to the phone book if the telephone registered with the system is in the car. The number or name of the caller is shown on the display if it is in the phone book and the number can be called using voice commands by dictating the numbers or saying the name if it has been saved.
The advanced voice recognition process does not require a voice learning stage. The system also allows you to manage and store up to five mobile phones at the same time so that more than one passenger in the car can make direct use of the handsfree set. The programming may be modified whenever required. And finally, the hands-free system with voice recognition can also play a personal call tone using the radio speakers.
These are the features of the hands-free system with voice recognition, but there is more to the innovative ‘Blue&Me®’ system on the Grande Punto: it allows the motorist to listen to his favourite music when it is recorded on a mobile phone, one of the new smart phones, on an MP3 player or on a USB memory stick. This is made possible by a USB port in the glove compartment, to which any digital device with a USB connection can be connected. Allowing musical audio files (MP3, WMA and WAV) to be played directly through the stereo system. And because all the information is visible on the instrument panel display, customers can browse through the system archive (divided by type, album, artist, etc.) either using voice commands or by means of the steering wheel controls, and select the track they want to hear using the controls on the steering wheel.


‘Need For Speed’ and Interscope Hi-Fi system

The area of the stand devoted to the Grande Punto also features a Sport version outfitted with the special Need For Speed kit (based on the well-known racing video-game) that includes aluminium pedals, sports exhaust tailpipe, sideskirts, special bumpers at front and rear, roof spoiler, roof bars, 17” alloys and a Hi-Fi system designed for connection of an iPod.
The new Grande Punto ‘Need For Speed’ is the outcome of an original joint venture between Fiat and Electronic Arts (EA), a world leader in video-games. Visitors to the stand may try version two of Need For Speed, the biggest-selling car racing game in the world (version one sold more than 15 million copies) that involves the unexpected participation of a Grande Punto car. Visitors can also admire the real life version of the car, to satisfy those who want to enjoy a form of sportiness that is not so virtual.
The cars on show in Paris are also equipped with a sophisticated Hi-Fi sound system developed in conjunction with Interscope, the prestigious Universal Music brand. The system has been carefully developed, designed and adjusted to fit the passenger compartment to ensure sound quality of unparalleled performance and dynamism. In detail, it consists of 2 Tweeters with a treated silk diaphragm for crystal-clear high notes (40 Watts of music power); 2 165 millimetre Woofers with a polypropylene membrane for clean medium frequencies and precise bass notes (80 Watts of music power); 2 130 millimetre Fullrange with a copper ring for undistorted listening (40 Watts of music power). The Interscope Hi-Fi system is also equipped with a four-channel amplifier (160 Watts of music power) that optimises the sound to the shape of the car for effective spatial sound distribution - and a two-channel amplifier subwoofer box (80 Watts of music power) with a twin coil speaker for deep, powerful bass notes.
The agreements with Electronic Arts and Interscope are part of a wider Fiat strategy to involve itself in art, sport and fashion - and now also entertainment and music. The common aim of the various initiatives is to win over young customers aged between 18 and 35, who make up a demanding, well-informed and forward-looking customer segment.


IMAGES Grande Punto


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