Last 10 for World Car of the Year announced

Posted in Audi, BMW, Fiat, Honda, Jaguar, Mazda, Nissan, Toyota, Volkswagen

Winning the World Car of the Year title is the best promotion any automaker can probably wish for. Plenty of media coverage plus the title no other automaker can use.

And the finalists are:
– Audi A4/Avant
– BMW 7 Series
– Citroën C5 Sedan/Tourer
– Fiat 500
– Honda Jazz/Fit
– Jaguar XF
– Mazda6/Atenza
– Nissan GT-R
– Toyota iQ
– VW Golf VI

The struggle will end on April 9 at the New York International auto show. In addition to WCOY the World Performance Car, World Green Car and World Car Design of the Year awards shall be announced and presented there.

So it’s a tough call. What would You do in this kind of situation? Fortunately it is not for any car Czar to postulate. The vehicles are selected and voted on by a volunteer jury of close to 50 distinguished automotive journalists representing many of the world’s most renowned automotive outlets.

Prices announced Nissan 370Z

Posted in Nissan

Prices announced Nissan 370Z
Nissan has announced prices for UK-spec 370 Z sports cars, and punters will be pleased to learn that the entry-level Zed will cost £26,895 – a mere £166 more than the 350Z.

So what goodies do I get on my £27k Nissan 370Z?

All cars of course come with a rear-wheel drive chassis and 328bhp 3.7-litre V6, but base-model 370Zs also have climate-control, electric seats, 18-inch wheels, automatic xenon lights, plus aux-in and Bluetooth connections.

For an extra £3300 you can get the GT pack, which replaces your measly 18-inch alloys with 19in forged Rays items, gives you electric heated leather seats, upgrades your stereo and adds the Synchro Rev Control, which automatically blips the throttle on downshifts.

And then you can spend another £1700 to have the GT Ultimate trim level, which adds a full-European sat-nav system. A seven-speed auto’ ‘box is also available for £1400, and metallic paint costs £450.

The new Nissan 370Z can be ordered from 2 February 2009 and the first deliveries are expected to UK customers in July 2009; production has been held up in the current credit squeeze.

Fiat 500, Alfa MiTo and 149 Head to the States

Posted in Alfa Romeo, Fiat


If the planned deal between Chrysler LLC and Fiat S.p.A is sealed by the end of April, the new American-Italian partnership will see seven new vehicles heading towards North American shores, according to a report from Automotive News that cites inside sources who have seen the product-sharing agreement between the two automakers. These vehicles, two Alfa Romeos, one Fiat and four Fiat Group based Chrysler LLC cars that will be all built at Chrysler’s North American plants, will be sold in the States through Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep dealerships.

The report claims that most likely, the three Fiat Group models to come to the U.S., are the retro-styled minicar Fiat 500, the sporty Alfa Romeo MiTo that is aimed towards the MINI Cooper and the Audi A3 / VW Golf sized Alfa Romeo 147 replacement that is unofficially named 149.

Understandably, the three Fiat Group cars that will be assembled in the U.S. will also form the base for the four planned Chrysler LLC models. In particular, Automotive News sources support that the American automaker will get a five-door hatchback based on the next Fiat Panda minicar (same platform as the 500) that will be sold as a Chrysler or a Dodge.

The Alfa MiTo will lend its platform and its 1.4-liter and 1.8-liter turbocharged engines to a B-Segment sized hatchback – hopefully, it will have nothing in common with out humoristic Magnum-faced Mito photoshop. Finally, the Alfa 149′s platform, called C-Evo, would be used to create a possible replacement for the Dodge Caliber as well as for the Dodge Avenger and Chrysler Sebring mid-size sedans.

Dubai’s Gold Mercedes C63 AMG

Posted in Mercedes-Benz
Slathering a Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG in a goldish-chrome finish is one way of telling the world that a- you do have a lot of spending money, and b- your taste buds are as dead as a dodo bird. Of course, it does not take a rocket scientist to guess the origin of this one-of-a-kind Merc – and yes, it’s Dubai, the world’s capitol of bling-bling. In particular, the chrome-finished C63 AMG saloon was spotted outside one of the world’s largest shopping centers, the Mall of the Emirates.

2009 Alfa Romeo MiTo Comes to the UK

Posted in Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo’s sporty new compact, the Alfa MiTo, will bring a new dimension to the Alfa Romeo range when it goes on sale in the UK from 24 January.

Inspired by the Alfa 8C Competizione, the Alfa MiTo is the first sporty compact from the famous Italian marque since the 1970s.

Designed to appeal to a young, image-conscious audience, Alfa Romeo’s collaboration between the Milano (MI) styling centre, (Alfa Romeo Centro Stile), and the Torino (TO) factory, (Mirafiori), is well priced, well built and well specified.

From launch, three high specification models – Turismo, Lusso and Veloce – will comprise the range, with a choice of five engines – three punchy petrol units and two diesels.

Prices start at £10,745 for the entry level 1.4 16V Alfa MiTo Turismo, and rise to £14,745 for the top of the range 1.4 TB 155bhp Veloce.

Introducing new levels of style and driving satisfaction to the sector, the Alfa MiTo delivers head-turning good looks. Styling cues taken from the Alfa 8C Competizione supercar make the Alfa MiTo appear like the perfect offspring.

At the front, the shield-shaped grille is imposingly sited at the end of a sculpted V-shaped bonnet, flanked by clear lens and teardrop headlamps.

In profile, the high waistline, flared wheel arches, disguised B-pillar and minimal rear overhang combine to communicate power, performance and agility.

The hatchback rear of the vehicle features a segment first: LED (light-emitting diode) lights. Brighter, faster responding and thus safer, these lights can be ordered with a choice of coloured surrounds.

Inside the cabin, the high quality interior feels like a car from a class above, with its unique carbon fibre-look dashboard. The sporty dials are hooded and the central console comes with a satin finish.

Careful soundproofing helps create a quiet and refined environment that optimises the inclusion of a Bose® sound system and integrated Blue & Me™ with satellite navigation on certain models.

Regardless of engine size, the Alfa MiTo delivers an engaging and rewarding driver experience. Alfa Romeo’s innovative DNA system is another first for the class.

A three-position switch, situated beside the gearlever, alters the throttle response and steering set-up for different driving environments – Dynamic, Normal and All Weather.

In Dynamic mode, the throttle response is quicker, the steering is sharper and the handling is more direct. For icy and loose surface environments the All Weather mode provides a more gentle response.

Alfa Romeo’s Electronic Q2 limited slip differential heads a list of dynamic driver aids, including a long list of safety systems.

Together, these all help deliver impressive driving dynamics and handling, along with sure-footed road holding capabilities.

Four of the five available engines are mated to a six speed gearbox. The entry level 95bhp 1.4 16V Turismo will sprint from 0-62mph in a respectable 11.2 seconds and deliver a top speed of 112mph.

The turbocharged 155bhp 1.4 Lusso model delivers the type of power normally associated with a significantly larger engine as it accelerates from 0-62mph in 8 seconds, and continues to a top speed of 134mph.

In line with entertaining levels of performance and handling, the Alfa MiTo also boasts high levels of safety.

Designed and developed to achieve the highest possible scores in passive and active safety tests, the Alfa MiTo is one of the safest cars on the road, providing driver and passengers with a high level of protection.

In recognition of its safety credentials, the Alfa MiTo has already collected a 5-star Euro NCAP safety rating.

Driver and occupant safety is paramount, and the specification of seven airbags including front airbags, window bags, sidebags and driver’s kneebag work with Alfa Romeo’s Self Aligning Head Restraint – a system that moves the head restraints closer to the neck of the front seat occupants to lessen the effect of whiplash in the event of an impact – is evidence of Alfa Romeo’s commitment to the highest possible safety standards.

During emergency braking, the Alfa MiTo automatically operates its hazard lights to alert other road users.

The Alfa MiTo is being launched into a segment dominated by the Mini. The Italian sporting car company is planning to challenge leading rivals with the MiTo’s persuasive combination of stylish looks, high specification and value for money proposition, driving credentials, and genuine four person comfort and luggage space.

Managing Director of Alfa Romeo UK, Christopher Nicoll, says: “The moment is right to introduce a new sporty compact to the sector. Cool, young drivers will relish the choice and excitement that this new model – a real driver’s car – brings. Keen pricing, Alfa’s evocative heritage and the MiTo’s good looks mark it out as a genuine contender within this competitive sector.”

STYLED TO BE SPORTY

With design cues taken from the stunning Alfa 8C Competizione, and only available as a 3-door hatchback, the new Alfa MiTo is styled to match its description as the sportiest compact car on the market today.

From all angles, the Alfa MiTo manages to blend its sports credentials with typical Alfa Romeo style and sophistication to create a compact car that expresses the vitality and emotion of the brand.

Front on, the new addition to the range is every inch an Alfa Romeo. The instantly recognisable shield-shaped grille denotes the lineage of the Alfa MiTo and the shape of the bonnet and the headlamps pay homage to the Alfa 8C Competizione.

STYLISH AND COMFORTABLE

Inside the Alfa MiTo, it’s clear to see that the sporty theme has been maintained.

Throughout the interior, a combination of precision materials, smart upholstery and top levels of build quality, plus neat finishing touches, make the cockpit a cosseting and welcoming environment.

The simply laid-out satin-chrome central console – home to the RDS stereo radio and MP3-compatible CD player – combined with the four air vents, tactile dashboard and the hooded driver instruments housing MPH, RPM, fuel and water temperature gauges – create a high quality interior that is complemented by a choice of dashboard colours and matching seat upholstery.

Dependent on trim level, the driver can choose a dashboard colour – Sprint Black, Sprint Red, Competizione Blue, Competizione Red or Black.

The trim colour is extended to the driver and passenger door panels and complementary seat fabrics.

Controls for the heating and ventilation system are positioned in front of the gearlever on the central console. Across the range, all Alfa MiTo versions come with manual air conditioning as standard, plus the option of automatic dual-zone air conditioning.

Behind the wheel, the driver benefits from a rake and reach-adjustable steering wheel. Lusso and Veloce versions feature a leather steering wheel, gearlever and handbrake grip.

The three-position DNA switch is located beside the gear lever. The driver is reminded which function has been selected with a digital letter designation on the dashboard alongside a read-out for time, outside temperature and turbo pressure. Turismo and Lusso models get red-on-black dials while the Veloce trim features white on black dials.

On certain models, chrome kick plates, floor mats and a front armrest represent an executive touch, and the option of chrome sports pedals hints further at the sporty lineage of the Alfa MiTo.

Tilting and sliding front seats make rear passenger access easy and comfortable and, unlike some competitors, there’s plenty of head, leg and elbow room in the back seats for two full-size adults.

Radio and Hi-Fi system

A young audience attracted to the Alfa MiTo’s stylish and modern look will take in- car entertainment seriously. For that reason, the new Alfa MiTo includes a sophisticated RDS radio with CD and MP3 file player, and two sound system levels.

The first sound system comes complete with six speakers (two mid-woofers with a power rating of 40W, two 40W full range speakers and two 30W tweeters), while the

higher level comes with eight speakers (four subwoofers with a power rating of 40 W and four 30W speakers).

Significantly, for the first time in its segment, the Alfa MiTo becomes available with a double antennae tuner fitted with a twin aerial for up to 80% better reception.

Built into the design of the dashboard and laid out in user-friendly fashion, the controls for the radio, CD and MP3 player are easily accessible to the driver and front seat passenger.

On Lusso and Veloce models, the sound system can be managed using steering wheel controls.

The radio comes with RDS (Radio Data System), TA (traffic news), and PTY (a code used by radio stations to indicate the type of music played so that the set can automatically select the type of music preferred by the listener).

Every time the radio is switched on, the volume settings remain the same as when it was switched off, while another device automatically corrects sound imbalance on the basis of road speed. The customer can also choose between seven equalisation bands for personal setting of sound parameters.

In addition, the Alfa MiTo radio may be connected both to the Blue&Me™ system – standard on Veloce versions and an option on the rest of the range – plus an optional Bose® Sound System.

ALL MOD CONS – THE ALFA MiTo RANGE

The entire Alfa MiTo range is extremely well specified and, in some areas, class leading. The inclusion of Alfa Romeo’s DNA system, LED rear lights and the highest Euro NCAP safety rating reinforce MiTo’s keen pricing and exceptional value.

TURISMO

The standard specification list is long and comprehensive, featuring Alfa’s advanced DNA function along with the Q2 system and electric power assisted steering. In addition, this model is fitted with Vehicle Dynamic Control – an amalgamation of ABS, Anti Slip Regulation and Brake Assistant – plus Hill Holder as standard.

Other safety features include driver, passenger, front side, window and driver’s knee airbags, along with fast-reaction LED rear lights and a fire prevention system. The front passenger airbag can also be deactivated.

The LED rear lights complement the height adjustable follow-me-home headlights with titanium grey surrounds, electrically adjustable and heated colour-coded door mirrors and bumpers.

All Alfa MiTo Turismo versions come with 16” wheels with unique design trims and 195/55 tyres.

Inside the cabin, driver and passengers benefit from manual air conditioning, electric one-touch window operation plus an RDS radio with CD and MP3 reader. There’s also an ‘auto-close’ system to complement the Alfa code immobiliser and alarm system.

Drivers can choose two different cabin colours. A Sprint Black dashboard is complemented by black / grey cloth and a Sprint Red dashboard comes with a black / red cloth combination.

LUSSO

From the outside, Lusso versions can be distinguished from Turismo by their fog lights, chrome headlamp surrounds, chrome-effect window surrounds and chrome exhaust pipes. The Alfa MiTo Lusso also differentiates itself from the rest of the range by sporting 16” alloy wheels.

Stepping over the chrome kick plates, the interior of Lusso models can feature a choice of three different interior colour combinations.

Competizione Blue, Red or Black dashboards can be complemented by the inclusion of five different cloth seat colour combinations. All Lusso models come with lumbar adjustment on the driver’s side.

A leather steering wheel with remote audio controls, a leather gear knob and floor mats complete the look.

VELOCE

Top of the range Alfa MiTo Veloce versions are fitted with 17” alloy wheels – similar to those that appear on the stunning Alfa 8C Competizione – along with satin effect headlamp surrounds and door mirrors.

This version features a rear spoiler and sports rear bumper with extractor. Veloce versions also sport red painted brake callipers.

Inside the cockpit, the Veloce features the same dashboard options as the Lusso version, but with an upgraded Veloce sports cloth, front armrest with storage compartment and sports dials with white illumination.

All Veloce models come with the Blue&Me hands-free system with voice recognition, and media player with USB port.

OPTIONS

A list of options, including roof and side graphics, is also available; (see technical and specification table).

DRIVING SATISFACTION

With a long history of developing entertaining, driver-focussed small cars, Alfa Romeo has created a sporty compact that existing Alfisti and future fans are sure to enjoy.

On the road, Alfa MiTo delivers a fun, entertaining, comfortable and safe driving experience.

Its ability to deliver such high levels of driveability and refinement is derived from the choice of five well-suited engines, the introduction of Alfa Romeo’s innovative DNA (Dynamic, Normal, All Weather) system, the five and six speed gearboxes and newly developed running gear, and an innovative suspension set-up.

DNA

Until now, no other compact car has benefitted from advanced DNA driving technology derived from racing and supercars.

Situated beside the gearlever, a three-position switch alters the behaviour of vehicle dynamics with the system working on engine, steering, suspension, and gearbox. This creates three different vehicle behaviour modes based on the driving style best suited to the situation, terrain or the wishes of the driver.

With a choice of Dynamic, Normal and All Weather set-ups at the flick of a switch, the driver can effortlessly shift between the driving modes.

Ideal for urban driving, the Normal setting ensures the engine is tuned for agility in the city. However, shifting the DNA lever to the Dynamic setting delivers a sportier driver experience. Power steering assistance is reduced to bring a sportier feel to the steering, suspension becomes stiffer for improved handling and there is less intrusion from the Vehicle Dynamic Control and the Anti Slip Regulation systems.

When Dynamic mode is selected on 120bhp JDTM and 155bhp Alfa MiTo versions, drivers can utilise an over-boost facility for increased driving entertainment.

Poor, low-grip weather conditions – loose surfaces, wet or snowy situations – could prompt the driver to switch to the All Weather mode.

When the All Weather function is selected, the traction control system increases its sensitivity, thus minimising the prospect of a loss of control in adverse conditions.

RIDE AND HANDLING – SUSPENSION

Key to the sporting ride and handling characteristics of the Alfa MiTo is the suspension layout.

Two tried and tested set-ups have been employed – a MacPherson layout at the front and a semi-independent layout with torsion beam at the rear.

In particular, some key elements have been incorporated to give an exclusive feel to the Alfa MiTo chassis.

To emphasise the promptness of response, stability and control, even under extreme conditions, MiTo’s track widths are among the widest in the segment – 1483mm front and 1475mm rear.

The wheel rims are also wide in relation to the size of the tyres in order to optimise the latter’s handling performance. The stiff, front and rear springs give the vehicle a sporting yet pliant ride, and the torsion beam features high torsional stiffness to enable it to also act as an anti-roll bar, thereby ensuring optimum roll performance and helping maximise the promptness of response.

However, the most distinctive feature of the Alfa Romeo MiTo suspension is that the front and rear dampers feature coilover springs fitted inside the shock absorber that act in parallel with the main spring during extension travel, with the main purpose of reducing roll and increasing chassis response. Special dual-acting telescopic hydraulic dampers are fitted as standard on all versions.

ENGINES

Three petrol engines – 1.4 16V (95bhp), 1.4 TB (120bhp) and 1.4TB (155bhp) – plus two diesel engines – 1.3 JTDM (90bhp) and 1.6 JTDM (120bhp) – will become available from launch.

Four units are mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox to deliver a punchy, responsive, driving experience, and the remaining engine (1.4 120bhp) is coupled with an equally impressive 5-speed ’box.

Distinguished by its performance, eager throttle response, low fuel consumption, durability and reliability, the new 1.4 turbocharged petrol engine powers two of the five models in the petrol line-up, with two different power outputs.

1.4 16V 95bhp

The entry level – normally aspirated – petrol unit can be specified with each of the three trim levels to deliver a spirited and willing performance.

Developing 95bhp at 6000rpm and a maximum 129Nm of torque at 4500rpm, the 1.4 16V engine is capable of accelerating the Alfa MiTo from 0-62mph in 11.2 seconds, and on to a top speed of 112mph.

An ideal partner for relaxed, around town driving, this petrol engine is mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox to make longer, motorway journeys more economical and relaxed.

Official mpg figures reveal that in urban driving, the Alfa MiTo 1.4 16V covers 36.7mpg, while long journeys will push that fuel consumption figure to 58.9mpg. The combined figure is a creditable 47.9mpg.

CO2 emissions are 138g/km and put the Alfa MiTo 1.4 16V in tax band C.

1.4 TB 120bhp Turbopetrol

New to the Alfa Romeo range, and available with all three trim levels, is a 1.4 turbocharged unit that delivers enhanced levels of driving flexibility and lively performance.

Responsive and satisfying to drive, the new 1.4 TB engine is enhanced by the low inertia of the turbocharger that makes it possible to obtain maximum performance from a throttle command, without the annoying lag typical of this type of engine.

Throttle control for this unit (and the 155bhp version) is drive-by-wire, without any mechanical connection, so that the driver can obtain the desired response from the engine with the greatest energy efficiency.

The 0-62mph sprint takes 8.8 seconds, and in fifth gear, a top speed of 123mph can be attained – impressive figures that have previously been associated with larger engines.

This 1.4 TB unit develops its maximum power of 120bhp at 5000rpm but, more impressively, produces a generous 206Nm of torque at just 1750rpm.

In turn, these characteristics help the Alfa MiTo to achieve 34.9mpg around town and 56.5mpg in the extra urban cycle, plus a combined figure of 46.3mpg.

CO2 emissions of 145g/km put the Alfa MiTo 1.4 TB 120bhp in tax band C.

1.4 TB 155bhp Turbopetrol

Only available on Lusso and Veloce versions, the new 1.4TB 155bhp unit is the top performing petrol engine in the Alfa MiTo range, delivering its maximum power at 5500rpm along with a maximum torque of 230 Nm at 3000rpm.

Quickest of the Alfa MiTo launch range, this version can accelerate from 0-62mph in just 8.0 seconds and reach a top speed of 134mph.

Despite the increase in power and performance, fuel economy remains notably competitive.

Around town, drivers can achieve 33.2mpg, while motorway journeys and the combined cycle are 53.3 and 43.5mpg respectively.

A CO2 rating of 153g/km puts the Alfa MiTo 1.4TB 155bhp in tax band D.

1.3 JTDM 90bhp

The latest generation JTDM engines are trailblazing diesel technology and Alfa Romeo is now bringing that expertise to the sporty compact car sector.

Available across the Alfa MiTo line-up, this engine choice extends all the benefits of lower fuel consumption and very low emissions along with remarkable low-down

torque – 200Nm at 2000rpm – for a relaxed driving style with minimal gear changes and a maximum 90bhp at 4000rpm. Official fuel consumption figures show that even in the Urban Cycle, the new Alfa MiTo 1.3 JTDM achieves 47.1mpg, while its Combined Cycle figure is a remarkable 62.8mpg.

1.6 JTDM 120bhp

Representing class-leading diesel technology, this Euro 5-ready 1.6 JTDM 120bhp engine delivers a massive 320Nm of torque at just 1750rpm.

As a result, the engine is perfectly matched for drivers wanting an effective combination of low running costs with useable power and flexibility for authentic driving satisfaction.

Alfa Romeo’s new injection system with new-generation variable geometry turbo engines along with the most advanced exhaust gas treatment technologies – Close Coupled Diesel Particulate Filter and an integral EGR (Exhaust Gas Recirculation) system – improves control of temperature and gas flow, simultaneously guaranteeing lower emissions and low fuel consumption.

No other similar size engine currently offers such a high torque delivery at such low rpm. All things considered, the new 1.6 JTDM offers exhilarating driving satisfaction that is difficult to match. This achievement is also borne out by an acceleration time of 0-62mph in just 9.9 seconds and a top speed of 123mph, while Combined Cycle fuel consumption is a remarkable 58.9mpg.

SAFETY AT ITS CORE

The Alfa MiTo has been designed to obtain a maximum score in passive and active safety tests – bringing drivers peace of mind in the knowledge that this is one of the safest cars available today.

Active safety benefits from state-of-the-art technology

To ensure active safety, the new Alfa MiTo offers some of the most sophisticated electronic systems to control the vehicle’s dynamic performance (from braking to traction) and push its dynamic limits still further. These systems are not intrusive for the driver but greatly benefit safety.

Braking system

The power-assisted, hydraulic braking system on the Alfa MiTo comprises two cross-over independent circuits, and is particularly effective, guaranteeing prompt, smooth braking combined with minimal stopping distances.

At the front, the Alfa MiTo 1.4 TB 155bhp is fitted with 305mm ventilated discs with one-piece aluminium four piston callipers. The rear discs are solid (251mm diameter) with floating callipers. A one-piece aluminium calliper on the front brakes increases calliper stiffness without increasing weight, and therefore contributes to increased performance.

Alfa MiTo versions with turbodiesel engines are fitted with 281mm ventilated discs on the front wheels and use a cast iron floating calliper with 57mm piston; the rear brake discs are solid (251mm diameter) while the floating calliper is aluminium with a 38mm diameter piston.

ABS with EBD

In addition to a high-performing braking system, the Alfa MiTo also comes with one of the most advanced ABS anti-lock braking systems available. It features four active sensors and a hydraulic control unit with 12 solenoids.

The ABS contains an electronic brakeforce distributor (EBD). This device apportions braking action over all four wheels to prevent locking and ensure full control of the car under all conditions. The system also adapts its operation to wheel grip conditions and brake pad efficiency to reduce pad overheating.

VDC (Vehicle Dynamic Control)

VDC is Alfa Romeo’s version of ESP (Electronic Stability Program), a system that activates under extreme conditions when vehicle stability is at risk, helping the driver to control the car.

Permanently engaged, VDC allows the driver the full satisfaction of controlling the car as long as conditions are normal, but cuts in just before a situation becomes critical.

MSR (Motor Schleppmoment Regelung) cuts in when a gear is shifted down abruptly under conditions of low grip. This device restores torque to the engine to prevent loss of control as a result of lock.

To achieve this result, VDC continually monitors tyre grip in both longitudinal and lateral directions. If the car slides, it cuts in to restore directionality and ride stability. It uses sensors to detect rotation of the car body about its vertical axis (yaw speed), its lateral acceleration, and the steering wheel angle set by the driver (which indicates the chosen direction). It then goes on to compare these data with parameters generated by a computer and establishes whether the car is cornering within its grip limits or if the front or rear is about to slide (understeer or oversteer).

To restore the correct trajectory, it then generates a yaw movement in the opposite direction to the movement that gave rise to the instability by braking the appropriate wheel individually, and reducing engine power (via the throttle). This is the key attribute of the system designed by Alfa Romeo engineers. It acts in a modulated fashion on the brakes to ensure the action is as smooth as possible (and the drive is not therefore disturbed). In addition, engine power reduction is contained to ensure outstanding performance and great driving satisfaction at all times.

ASR (Anti Slip Regulation)

The ASR (Anti Slip Regulation) system, an integral part of the VDC, optimises traction at any speed with the aid of the brakes and throttle.

The system computes the degree of slip on the basis of wheel rpm calculated by the ABS sensors, and activates two different control systems to restore grip. When an excessive power demand causes both driven wheels to slip (e.g. in the case of aquaplaning or when accelerating over an unsurfaced, snowy or icy road), it reduces engine torque by reducing the throttle opening angle and thus air flow. If only one wheel slips (e.g. the inside wheel following acceleration or dynamic load changes), this is automatically braked without the driver touching the brake pedal. The resulting effect is similar to that of a self-locking differential. This allows the Alfa MiTo to get out of difficulty easily on road surfaces with low grip.

CBC (Cornering Brake Control)

The CBC (Cornering Brake Control) system comes into play when the car takes a corner while under heavy braking. In this case, brake pressure is discharged on each wheel individually to maintain vehicle stability, minimising any understeer or oversteer behaviour.

DST (Dynamic Steering Torque)

The VDC on the Alfa MiTo always activates unobtrusively because it is combined with DST (Dynamic Steering Torque), an active electronic steering system that makes corrections automatically and also controls oversteer on surfaces with low grip.

DST improves both driving safety and handling performance. Under all driving conditions, the electronic steering system suggests the correct manoeuvres to be carried out to the driver to allow outstanding road holding performances, while instilling a great sense of security. This is achieved through continuous interaction between the electric power steering (which generates torque at the steering wheel) and electronic control of dynamics (VDC). In detail, DST automatically makes corrections, helps to maintain vehicle control and ensures that the VDC activates unobtrusively.

The DST System is particularly useful in the case of oversteer because it facilitates the most appropriate manoeuvre to maintain control of the vehicle in every situation.

The MCF function (Mu-Split Control Function) activates when the vehicle is being driven over surfaces with different levels of grip. (In winter, it is sometimes the case that two wheels are on ice while the other two are on asphalt.)

In this particular case, the DST System allows automatic counter-steering that makes it possible to control the vehicle (preventing it from spinning) and also to pull up within the shortest possible distance, (braking distances are reduced by up to 10%). In the event of a sporty drive, if the system detects higher lateral acceleration (from 0.6 g) it cuts in to deliver an increase in resistant torque to the steering wheel. In this way it significantly improves the sensation of mastering the car on corners, particularly at high speed.

HBA and Hill-holder

The equipment array on the Alfa MiTo is completed by the HBA system, (hydraulic braking assistance) which automatically increases pressure in the braking circuit during emergency braking; and by the Hill-holder system, which maintains brake pressure for a few moments after the driver removes his foot from the pedal, to simplify hill starts and prevent the car from slipping backwards.

Electronic Q2

Another specific feature of the Alfa MiTo is its Electronic Q2 System that improves the transfer of drive torque to the wheels and, in particular, guarantees excellent cornering behaviour, thus making the car safer and more entertaining during a sporty drive or when grip is poor. In detail, the Electronic Q2 System is based on the principle of making full use of the braking system that, when appropriately controlled by the VDC control unit, develops a form of behaviour very similar to that of a limited slip differential (in other words, the Electronic Q2 System electronically simulates the presence of a self-locking differential).

In practical terms, when accelerating in a bend, the front braking system acts on the inner wheel to increase traction on the outer wheel (bearing the highest load), and therefore distributes torque between the front driven wheels in a continuous, dynamic manner according to driving and road surface conditions.

Systems for comprehensive protection

Alfa Romeo’s deep-rooted commitment to making the Alfa MiTo one of the safest cars in its segment has involved the company in conducting around 100 simulations on a HyGe slide, 500 crash tests, and some 200 tests on components and subsystems.

The new Alfa MiTo thus represents the cutting edge as far as passive safety is concerned.

Comprehensive occupant protection is achieved by the standard specification of seven airbags (two of which are Multistage); three-point seatbelts with pre-tensioners and load limiters; and an S.A.H.R. (Self Aligning Head Restraint) system – an anti-whiplash device built into the front seat backrests.

In addition, the body, bonnet, doors and dashboard crossmember, along with the seats and steering column, have been designed with a view to absorbing impact energy progressively and limiting their intrusion on the driver and passengers.

Air-Bag Smart 2 system

In the event of a head-on impact, occupant protection is safeguarded by an innovative constraint system known as the Air-Bag Smart 2, that automatically adapts the activation parameters according to the severity of the impact.

On the Alfa MiTo, the driver and passenger front airbags operate with dual stage activation. When the impact is of moderate force, the system opens only to the first of two stages, while during more serious collisions, the control unit sanctions the activation of both stages.

The airbags may, however, be activated in accordance with different sequences determined by the various impact types. In each case, braids inside the bags ensure that maximum bag dimension and final shape are as non-invasive as possible for passengers.

The front passenger airbag may be deactivated manually (by means of the control panel menu) so that a child can be carried in a seat with its back to the direction of travel (the pre-tensioner remains active).

The sensors on the Air-Bag Smart 2 system also control seat belt pre-tensioner activation.

Control unit and sensors

The Alfa MiTo is equipped with all the most advanced passive safety systems currently available. They are governed by a sophisticated new ‘nerve centre’ that is controlled by an electronic control unit located in the transmission tunnel. This control unit receives signals from various sensors distributed throughout the car, (and others inside), and decides how many systems should be activated, and which ones.

This is why the system is said to be ‘smart’.

Utilising a CSA (Crash Severity Algorithm), the system is able to recognise the severity of impact and control the Multistage front airbags. At the same time, two-way accelerometers make it possible to enhance the function of satellite sensors, installed in the central ‘B’ pillars, to ensure timely operation of the side airbags and window bags in the event of side impact.

Lastly, the Alfa MiTo is also fitted with a decentralised sensor for detecting frontal impact or ECS (Early Crash Sensor); this extra device is located on the front structure of the car and allows the control unit to activate the front airbags earlier. Unlike conventional systems, this device allows the bag to inflate fully before belted occupants even start to move in the direction of the steering wheel or dashboard.

Window bags and side airbags

These airbags drop down along the windows to safeguard the passengers’ heads in the case of side impact. Compared with other solutions, the windowbags adopted on the Alfa MiTo are more protective (because they always take up the correct position); they are also faster to inflate and less invasive for passengers. They open from top to bottom and do not involve a risk of secondary damage to occupants’ arms.

They also effectively safeguard the heads of front as well as rear passengers because they extend along the entire length of the window area and ensure protection even during rollover. Two bags are located under the roof rails where they are folded into a closed compartment. At the appropriate moment, the roof lining bends open to allow the bags to expand and drop downward.

The Alfa MiTo comes with two side airbags located inside the seat backrest to protect the pelvic and chest areas of its passengers, even when the car is struck from the

side. This positioning affords better protection for passengers regardless of height, sitting position and seat adjustment.

Driver’s knee bag

The area beneath the steering column, typically the most dangerous for a driver’s knees, has been made safer by the use of a knee bag and also a new steering lock location that involved moving the ignition key from its conventional position.

Protective, wrap-around seats

Particular attention was also paid to the seats. These play an all-important role in ensuring effective containment of the occupants and therefore achieving the required level of safety during head-on, rear or side impact. The seat performance required exceeds that imposed by European type-approval standards. The seats have been developed to exceed the toughest standards required by the market. Among other things, the front seats of the Alfa MiTo are equipped with an S.A.H.R. (Self Aligning Head Restraint) system that moves the head restraint closer to occupants’ necks to lessen the effect of whiplash in the event of impact.

Emergency stop indication

The Alfa MiTo also employs a system that indicates an emergency stop by operating its hazard warning indicators. The function becomes operational when – at a speed greater than 30mph – a deceleration greater than 7m/s² occurs, the brake pedal is being pressed and the hazard warning lights are not active. Once these parameters are satisfied, the system automatically activates both front and rear direction indicators.

OPTIONAL TECHNOLOGY

Bose® Sound System

The Bose® Sound System produced for Alfa Romeo by the US company Bose, a leader in the Hi-Fi sound sector, offers each passenger exceptional listening quality under all driving conditions. The hi-fi system has a power output of 690 W (345 W regular power) and the sound system comprises eight speakers and a subwoofer with a 4-channel amplifier (320 watts maximum power) built into the luggage compartment, which plays the lowest frequencies.

In-car telematic and satellite navigation systems

The Alfa MiTo is a bearer of new technology in terms of its engines and also in terms of the electronic systems it employs to ensure on-board comfort and well-being. An obvious example is the ‘Blue&MeTM system that adds major new features to aid musical enjoyment in this new Alfa Romeo.

Blue&MeTM

Standard equipment on Veloce versions, all versions of the entire Alfa MiTo range may be equipped with Blue&MeTM as an option. This innovative system has been created as a result of a joint venture between Fiat Group Automobiles and Microsoft, that changes the dynamics of in-car communication, information and entertainment to improve comfort and quality of time spent in the car.

The system is extremely simple to use, and allows occupants to make/receive telephone calls and to listen to music simply and safely, while on the move. And thanks to

Bluetooth® technology, they can also communicate with the outside world from the car, using their own personal equipment, such as mobile phones or handheld computers.

Blue&MeTM is a system that is always able to keep pace with the times, with updatable, flexible and modular features. Fiat Group Automobiles and Microsoft, with the support of Magneti Marelli, also offer a platform that can be adapted to most mobile phones, music players or other personal equipment to replace the current costly and rigid hardware, with the great benefit of being able to constantly keep pace with market innovations and maintain perfect integration with the car.

Blue&MeTM ensures the greatest safety and ease of use. Because the voice control system is fully integrated with keys on the steering wheel and information on the instrument panel display, customers equipped with a Bluetooth® mobile phone can use it even if it is in a jacket pocket or handbag, without ever taking their hands off the steering wheel. Not to mention the fact that ‘advanced voice recognition’ allows immediate interactivity – no voice learning stage is required – and also allows incoming texts to be read out.

On the Alfa MiTo, Blue&MeTM achieves a further step forward by adding new functions that confirm the platform’s great flexibility. By connecting a digital system to the USB port, it is possible to listen to hours of digital music in MP3, WMA and WAV format recorded on mobile phones, MP3 players and USB pen drives.

For greater compatibility with an i-Pod, it is now possible in a MiTo to listen to music tracks with an AAC extension in addition to the above formats, provided they are free from digital rights (DRM) and saved in Hard Disk Drive mode. For greater passenger comfort, the Alfa MiTo Blue&MeTM also displays information on music tracks in the radio display, (they were previously available on the control panel).

8c Competizione Recalled Along with Maseratis in the US

Posted in Alfa Romeo, Maserati


Unfortunately, a few dozens of fortunate American owners of one of the world’s hottest sports cars, the Alfa Romeo 8c Competizione, will have to return their Italian beauty for a quick fix after it was discovered that certain models were manufactured with incorrectly torqued front and rear suspension upper and lower ball joint nuts. The recall also affects MY 2008 Maserati Gran Turismo and Quattroporte which share the same platform with the Alfa.

Overall, 7,912 Maseratis and Alfa 8c Competiziones will be recalled in the States. While the Italian automaker did not reveal specific numbers, we do know for a fact that only 84 Alfas were allocated in the U.S.

Maserati said that the incorrectly torqued ball joint nuts may loosen with consequent steering wheel vibration, a growing metallic noise and progressive loss of driving precision in the transients. According to the Italian automaker, continued use of the vehicle in these conditions may lead to damage of the suspension lever, which in the long term and depending on vehicle usage, may cause the ball joint/suspension arm to break.

The firm’s dealers will inspect the torque of the front/rear upper and lower ball joint nuts and, if necessary, replace the suspension arms and hub carrier. The recall is expected to begin during February 2009. Concerned U.S. owners may contact Maserati for more information at 1-201-816-2600.

News about Alfa Romeo Mito GTA

Posted in Alfa Romeo


At Geneva motor show this March, new Alfa Romeo Mito GTA hot hatch will be launched announced from Alfa Romeo.

The Alfa Romeo Mito GTA will get a 240bhp 1.8-litre turbocharged petrol engine and will keep the electronic Q2 technology, which mimics a mechanical limited-slip differential and is already standard on the whole Mito range.

The new Alfa Mito GTA is based on the same underpinnings as the Fiat Punto Abarth, and Alfa maintains that the GTA will set a new performance benchmark for the brand.

Weight saving is key to this hardcore hatch. A senior Alfa Romeo source told Autocar: “The Mito GTA will get more lightweight materials such as carbon fibre and aluminium, in keeping with our strategy to cut weight from all our vehicles in the future.”

Expect the styling to take on a much more aggressive look, with blistered wheel arches, more defined lines and, possibly, new contrasting colour schemes to make the Mito look more like a racing car.

As the spiritual successor to the Alfa 147 GTA, the hot Mito will take on the Mini John Cooper Works when it goes on sale in the summer.

The Alfa Mito GTA will have 31bhp more than the hottest Mini and prices will also undercut the Mini JCW by as much as £2000.

Fiat Group and Chrysler announce plans for a global strategic alliance

Posted in Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Fiat

Fiat S.p.A., Chrysler LLC (Chrysler) and Cerberus Capital Management L.P., the private investment majority owner of Chrysler LLC, announced today they have signed a non-binding term sheet to establish a global strategic alliance.

The alliance, to be a key element of Chrysler’s viability plan, would provide Chrysler with access to competitive, fuel-efficient vehicle platforms, powertrain, and components to be produced at Chrysler manufacturing sites. Fiat would also provide distribution capabilities in key growth markets, as well as substantial cost savings opportunities. In addition, Fiat would provide management services supporting Chrysler’s submission of a viability plan to the U.S. Treasury as required. Fiat has been very successful in executing its own restructuring over the past several years. The alliance would also allow Fiat Group and Chrysler to take advantage of each other’s distribution networks and to optimize fully their respective manufacturing footprint and global supplier base.

The proposed alliance would be consistent with the terms and conditions of the U.S. Treasury financing to Chrysler. Per the U.S. Treasury loan agreement, each constituent will be asked to contribute to Chrysler’s restructuring effort including: lenders, employees, the UAW, dealers, suppliers and Chrysler Financial. Such steps would greatly contribute to Chrysler’s long term viability plan. Completion of the alliance is subject to due diligence and regulatory approvals, including the U.S. Treasury.

As a consideration for Fiat Group’s contribution to the alliance of strategic assets, to include: product and platform sharing, including city and compact segment vehicles, to expand Chrysler’s current product portfolio; technology sharing, including fuel efficient and environmentally friendly powertrain technologies; and access to additional markets, including distribution for Chrysler vehicles in markets outside of North America, Fiat would receive an initial 35 percent equity interest in Chrysler. The alliance does not contemplate that Fiat would make a cash investment in Chrysler or commit to funding Chrysler in the future.

“This initiative represents a key milestone in the rapidly changing landscape of the automotive sector and confirms Fiat and Chrysler commitment and determination to continue to play a significant role in this global process. The agreement will offer both companies opportunities to gain access to most relevant automotive markets with innovative and environmentally friendly product offering, a field in which Fiat is a recognized world leader while benefiting from additional cost synergies. The deal follows a number of targeted alliances and partnerships signed by the Fiat Group with leading carmakers and automotive suppliers over the last five years aimed at supporting the growth and volume aspirations of the partners involved,” the CEO of Fiat Group, Sergio Marchionne said.

“A Chrysler/Fiat partnership is a great fit as it creates the potential for a powerful, new global competitor, offering Chrysler a number of strategic benefits, including access to products that compliment our current portfolio; a distribution network outside North America; and cost savings in design, engineering, manufacturing, purchasing and sales and marketing,” said Bob Nardelli, Chairman and CEO of Chrysler LLC. “This transaction will enable Chrysler to offer a broader competitive line-up of vehicles for our dealers and customers that meet emissions and fuel efficiency standards, while adhering to conditions of the Government Loan. The partnership would also provide a return on investment for the American taxpayer by securing the long-term viability of Chrysler brands in the marketplace, sustaining future product and technology development for our country and building renewed consumer confidence, while preserving American jobs.”

“This is great news for the UAW Chrysler team and we look forward to supporting and working with them to ensure Chrysler’s long term viability,” said Ron Gettelfinger, President United Auto Workers (UAW).

“We’re on board with this important strategic initiative as it will help preserve the long-term viability of our great company, its brands and of course UAW-Chrysler jobs,” said General Holiefield, Vice President, United Auto Workers (UAW).
Torino – Auburn Hills, MI, January 20, 2009