New engines improve efficiency

To demonstrate its technical excellence, at the heart of the 2012 Punto is a revamped range of five petrol and two diesel engines. Each offers a varying degree of driveability and class-leading efficiency to ensure the new Fiat Punto is capable of satisfying all manner of demanding drivers. All engine options feature Fiat's Start&Stop (optional on Easy 1.2) combined with a Gear Shift Indicator which suggests the best gear to reduce fuel consumption and emissions by up to 15 per cent on an urban route.

TwinAir Turbo

For the first time, the Punto comes with Fiat Powertrain's ground-breaking TwinAir Turbo engine. Winner of the 2011 International Engine of the Year, and Best Green Engine 2011, this is a two-cylinder that drives like a four cylinder. It works with a six-speed gearbox to pair two distinct characters in one compact, low weight package to appeal to multiple driving styles.

In Normal mode, full engine performance is on tap to ensure lively and spirited progress courtesy of a zesty peak power of 85hp at 5500 rpm and maximum torque of 145Nm at 2000rpm. Pushing the Eco button on the dashboard reduces torque to 110Nm at 2500rpm. This makes the engine even better at coping with town driving conditions, reduces fuel consumption and emissions, and helps the engine achieve its amazing 98g/km of CO2.

Engineers settled on the capacity of this two-cylinder engine after numerous thermodynamic calculations specified the optimum surface-to-volume ratio of the combustion chamber to yield maximum efficiency. A small turbocharger was chosen to ensure maximum torque from low engine speeds. Combined with dedicated valve management, this minimises engine response times and keeps power levels high to amplify driver pleasure. The result is performance that's approximately 25 per cent better than the 1.2-litre 8-valve engine.

Thanks to Fiat's MultiAir technology, engine combustion is controlled directly through the intake valves. This facilitates high combustion stability even at very low engine loads which uses the injected fuel in the most efficient way to reduce emissions.

But the TwinAir isn't just notable for the driving pleasure and low fuel consumption it offers. It's also remarkably refined. Engineers worked hard to maintain the distinctive sound of the two-cylinder while reducing vibrations courtesy of a balancing countershaft and dual-mass flywheel.

MultiJet 2 Turbo diesel

Fiat has a proud history of world firsts in diesel engine development. There was the first direct injection diesel engine in a production saloon car in the 1980s, and in the 1990s it invented Common Rail. Then in 2003 Fiat came up with MultiJet. The 2012 Punto features an evolution of the MultiJet 2 engine, which is available in this latest Fiat Punto with two power outputs.

The new 85hp 1.3-litre 16-valve version sees the MultiJet 2 family of engines take another step forward with the introduction of two new technologies. An Intelligent Alternator optimises the recharging strategy of the battery when the engine is cut by the Start&Stop system. Intelligent Flow employs a variable displacement oil pump and optimisation of the cooling circuit to improve efficiency. The results are a punchy 200Nm of torque at 1500rpm combined with CO2 emissions of just 90g/km which makes the Punto one of the cleanest cars in its class. It's also one of the most economical, with a Combined Cycle figure of 80.7 mpg.

As with all second-generation MultiJet engines, both this unit and the 75hp version employ a new common rail injection system with a balanced solenoid servo valve. This controls the quantity of diesel injected into the cylinder with enormous precision to allow a quicker and more flexible injection sequence than previously.

The eight injections per cycle also feature Fiat's ground-breaking Injection Rate Shaping (IRS) technology. This consists of two consecutive injections with zero hydraulic dwell in between. It means combustion is more gradual and at higher loads is smoother leading to improvements in consumption, emissions and noise. In real terms, consumption and CO2 emissions of these Euro 5 compatible engines are believed to be improved by around three per cent, and nitrogen oxide emissions are reduced by 20 per cent.

Further gains in efficiency are made thanks to low viscosity transmission fluid and second generation turbochargers. The fixed geometry turbo in the 75hp version and the variable vane geometry of the 85hp version ensure the best possible turbo function at any engine speed. On top of that, torque at low revs is improved by 25 per cent compared to the previous engine. The 1.3-litre MultiJet 2 engines come with a five-speed manual gearbox.

MultiAir petrol

Just as Fiat has revolutionised the world of diesel engines, so it has also been instrumental in technological advances in petrol power, courtesy of its MultiAir range. Compared with a traditional petrol engine, a MultiAir unit has increased power and torque along with lower fuel consumption and emissions. The 2012 Fiat Punto range features two different power outputs of MultiAir engine: 105hp and 135hp.

MultiAir takes dynamic control of drawing air into the engine, cylinder by cylinder and stroke by stroke without using the throttle. At its heart is a new electro-hydraulic valve management system that uses a high pressure oil chamber between the camshaft and the intake valve, managed by a solenoid valve connected to the engine's ECU. This enables increased flexibility in valve lift schedules and allows them to vary, depending on how much air the engine requires.

As a consequence, full valve lift is only used when full engine power is required. At start-up, late intake valve opening gives a higher air speed intake to optimise the petrol/air mix and its combustion. At partial engine load, early intake valve closing optimises volume efficiency and reduces pumping losses. Backflow into the maniflow is avoided and air mass trapped in the cylinder optimised. Combustion can be further enhanced by multiple valve opening or multi-lift at low engine speeds or from idle.

The result of this versatile technology isn't just a 10 per cent reduction in consumption and emissions. It also boosts power by 10 per cent and torque by 15 per cent compared to regular engines. And since air intake is adjusted precisely according to road conditions and driving style, the MultiAir engines are more relaxing to drive in heavy traffic and more fun, with improved dynamic responses on the open road.

The 135hp 1.4-litre MultiAir engine has a turbocharger that gives the 2012 Fiat Punto the performance of a sports car. The turbo gives optimal torque delivery throughout the rev range and sees it hitting 62mph from standstill in just 8.5 seconds. But despite this and a top speed of 124mph it still returns 50.4mpg on the Combined Cycle and 129g/km of CO2 emissions.

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