New models - Alfa Romeo - MiTo - TCT Sport 3-dr hatch
First drive: Alfa MiTo shifts up a gear
Dual-clutch gearbox to dominate sales of Alfa’s upgraded MiTo pocket rocket
14 Dec 2010
A NEW dual-clutch automatic gearbox is set to give the Alfa Romeo MiTo a massive boost in Australia, with an estimated 90 per cent of customers to opt for the self-shifting transmission.
The upgrade to the smallest Alfa also includes a new cutting-edge engine, idle-stop fuel-saving technology and a range revision.
The arrival of the new DSG-style automatic is the big news for a company that has had few self-shifters in the past. Its previous attempt at a robotised manual, the Selespeed gearbox, was not well received, and Alfa says many customers saw that as an enhanced manual rather than an automatic transmission.
The twin-clutch transmission (TCT) - the first auto for MiTo - presents to the customer as a traditional automatic, with a Park mode that locks the transmission and a creep function that eases the car forward when the foot is lifted from brake in Drive.
The TCT shifter can be flicked to the left for sequential manual gear changes, while gears can also be changed with steering-wheel paddles.
A Fiat-made transmission that will soon be rolled out across Fiat and Chrysler ranges, the TCT uses a Magneti Marelli control system and Borg Warner actuation module.
It has a dry sump, which Alfa says means efficiency gains of six per cent over a wet sump, with fuel consumption down 0.1 litres per 100km compared with its six-speed manual counterpart. It is also 0.2 seconds faster from 0-100km/h.
Alfa’s idle-stop system is available with TCT-equipped cars as well as the range-topping QV manual.
This system kills the engine at idle at standstill with the foot on the brake, and fires up again by hitting the accelerator, flicking one of the gearshift paddles on the steering wheel or engaging the clutch in the manual.
The system has been designed to switch the engine off when it is sufficiently warm and also when the air-conditioning system is fully charged, to avoid running out of cooling when the car is sitting with the engine off.
The MiTo range kicks off with the new manual-only 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbo engine which produces 114kW of power and 230Nm of torque. It runs traditional intake valve control – not Fiat’s MultiAir system – and has a combined cycle fuel consumption figure of 6.5L/100km. It is 0.2 seconds slower than the base engine, taking 8.2 seconds to run from 0-100km/h.
Next up is the new 1.4-litre MultiAir turbo-petrol engine which generates less power (99kW) and the same amount of torque (230Nm).
The innovative MultiAir system uses electro-hydraulic solenoids instead of a camshaft to control the intake valve timing for cleaner and more efficient combustion. A regular camshaft is used to control the exhaust valves and to provide oil pressure for the solenoids for the intake controllers.
The main advantage of this system is its economy and this engine is a whole 1.0L/100km more economical than the entry-level engine with an official combined fuel economy figure of 5.5L/100km.
The 99kw MultiAir engine is available with either the six-speed manual or the new TCT automatic.
Alfa has retained the Quadrifoglio Verde (four-leafed clover) MultiAir model that sits at the top of the MiTo range. It is the same 1.4-litre turbo four, but is tuned for performance and generates 125kW and 250Nm.
It has a 6.0L/100km fuel economy figure and takes only 7.5 seconds to run from 0-100km/h.
In future, all engines in the MiTo range will be MultiAir, but importer Ateco Automotive has retained the non-MultiAir base engine purely for cost reasons.
Running the less efficient engine means Alfa can keep that model pegged at the all important $29,990 price point, which Audi recently locked in for its entry A1, and still make a profit.
The base MiTo runs the 114kW engine and comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, manually operated air-conditioning, cloth sport seats, front fog lights, trip computer, Bluetooth connectivity, steering wheel audio controls, leather-wrapped steering wheel and the Alfa DNA system that allows the driver to select a sportier setting for the accelerator actuation, steering assistance, traction control and the change points for the automatic transmission.
All MiTos come with electronic stability control (ESC) and traction control, as well as front, side, curtain airbags as well as a driver’s knee-protecting airbag.
The $31,990 MiTo TCT adds the 99kW engine and TCT automatic transmission.
The $34,990 MiTo Sport TCT uses the same engine and transmission but adds a load of gear, including carbon-fibre dashboard and door trim, dual climate control, alloy sports pedals, red brake callipers, rear parking sensors, automatic windscreen wipers, a rear wing, sports rear bumper and chrome side window surround.
The Quadrifoglio Verde MultiAir sits at the top of the range with the 125kW engine and manual transmission and costs the same as the Sport TCT, $34,990.
It adds 18-inch alloy wheels, titanium-look finish for the mirrors, side windows and headlights.
The MiTo is the baby of the Alfa Romeo range and is available only as a three door hatch. It sits below the 147, which will be replaced by the all-new Giulietta early next year.
Ateco has sold 196 MiTos in Australia to the end of November, according to VFACTS. It expects this number to hit 252 with the new models entering showrooms.
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