Alfa TCT semi-automatic transmission available in UK Giulietta range
At the close of last year (2011), Alfa Romeo UK recorded a volume increase of 30.8%, while also recording the highest yearly new registration figure for the marque (11,563 cars) since 2002.
In a market place where automotive manufacturers' average volume decreased by 4.4%, Alfa Romeo bucked the trend by gaining the third largest manufacturer volume percentage increase for the year.
The success of the brand has been down to a combination of factors, from the latest product line-up, to its improved dealer network - which now boasts a top 10 positioning in the J.D. Power UK customer satisfaction survey - and the highly competitive finance and incentive offers available on each model.
Both the sporty compact Alfa MiTo and Alfa Giulietta hatchback have helped the marque gain a new customer following by becoming a credible alternative to mainstream German rivals. In the UK, Alfa Romeo sold 7,113 Giuliettas in 2011 and has sold over 10,000 since launch. In Europe, Alfa Romeo sold 80,000 vehicles in 2011, and worldwide orders for the Giulietta have totalled almost 140,000.
The Alfa Giulietta, which boasts five door practicality with coupè looks, is still the safest car in its class. Both Giulietta and MiTo models benefit from award winning MultiAir engine technology, five star Euro-NCAP safety ratings, Alfa Romeo's unique D.N.A system, and now, in 2012, the technologically advanced ALFA TCT semi-automatic transmission becomes available in the Giulietta range, with prices starting at £21,855 OTR.
ALFA TCT: performance and efficiency
Lowest CO2 emitting petrol engine over 1.2 litre in the C Segment
Highest horsepower to BIK percentage for petrol engines in the C Segment (11.3 hp per BIK percentage)
Lowest CO2 emitting automatic petrol engine in the C Segment
Available in Lusso or Veloce trim levels on the Giulietta, the latest generation Alfa TCT (Twin Clutch Transmission) dry dual clutch semi-automatic transmission is the class benchmark for its effectiveness in balancing high performance, low fuel consumption and low emissions, and is combined in the Giulietta with the 1.4 TB MultiAir 170 bhp and 2.0 JTDM-2 170 bhp engines.
In particular, this innovative transmission ensures greater driving comfort and a sportier feel than conventional automatic transmissions with a torque converter, together with improved efficiency and lower fuel consumption. Worth noting is that Alfa TCT improves fuel consumption with respect to corresponding manual transmission versions by exploiting integrated, smart engine and transmission electronics in order to optimise engine system performance and efficiency.
The transmission works in either all-automatic or sequential mode, as required by the driver. The user can manually manage the up and down position of the accurate, ergonomic shifter, with which steering wheel shift paddles may be combined. In addition, the driver can customise the car's dynamics using the Alfa D.N.A. driving selector to enhance its features of comfort, performance, safety and efficiency.
Equipped with the 1.4 TB MultiAir 170 bhp engine, the Giulietta TCT’s top speed is 135 mph with just 7.7 seconds needed to accelerate from 0 - 62 mph. Even with this excellent performance, fuel consumption and emissions are extraordinarily low: 54.3 mpg over a Combined Cycle and 121 g/km of CO2 - values that make the Giulietta one of the most environmentally-friendly and efficient petrol-powered compacts on the market, even when compared to manual gearbox competitors with lower power ratings and performance.
In addition, for fleet buyers and company car drivers, the 1.4 TB 170 bhp MultiAir engine with ALFA TCT records the highest horsepower to BIK percentage for a petrol engine in the C segment, and proves that performance doesn’t have to come at the cost of a high tax bill.
When combined with the 2.0 JTDM-2 170 bhp diesel engine, ALFA TCT values continue to impress. In fact, compared to the same manual gearbox version, acceleration from 0 - 62 mph is improved from 8.0 seconds to 7.9 seconds, fuel consumption (Combined Cycle) improves from 60.4 mpg to 62.8 mpg, while CO2 emissions reach a record level for an engine of this power: 119 g/km (124 g/km with the manual gearbox). Low running costs together with low fuel consumption make it an ideal choice for company fleets.
Conceptually, the new Alfa TCT consists of two gearboxes in parallel, one for even gears and one for odd gears, each with its own clutch, which allows the selection and engagement of the subsequent gear while the previous one is still engaged. The gear is therefore changed with a simple, smooth yet very fast switching of the corresponding clutches, guaranteeing continuous torque delivery and therefore traction.
The result is a level of driving comfort and sporty feel superior to that offered by conventional automatic transmissions (with torque converter). The ALFA TCT experience is characterised by constant connection of the engine to the wheels, a faster gear shift feeling, the possibility of selecting between manual or automatic mode, and all without significant power loss during shifts. Furthermore, fuel consumption is reduced by up to 10% compared to a traditional automatic gearbox. Alfa TCT uses dry clutches allowing, in addition to other advantages, natural integration with Start&Stop, a function which is not always available with traditional automatic transmissions, and which guarantees a further benefit in terms of fuel consumption, particularly around town.
The electro-hydraulic gear and clutch actuating system is of the high specific power and efficiency type. Virtually imperceptible shifting time can be further minimised (as fast as 8 milliseconds) in terms of comfort in the Alfa TCT according to the position of the Alfa D.N.A. lever. The hydraulic actuating oil pressurising electric system, on the other hand, is activated only when needed in order to cut losses in the system as a whole.
The operation of the Alfa TCT is also designed to integrate the engine with the various onboard systems in the best manner. To allow for the best performance on the road, depending on driving conditions and the driver's wishes, the transmission interacts with the Alfa D.N.A., braking system, the electronic control unit (ECU) and vehicle stability control system (VDC). The engine control system automatically identifies road conditions, gradients and bends and optimises traction by selecting the most appropriate gear, managing engine torque delivery and modulating the brakes.
With lightning-fast parameter processing, the transmission can adapt its behaviour in real time. For instance, on bends, gear shifts may be subjected to the vehicle speed and position of the Alfa D.N.A. lever. In Natural mode the system adjusts shifting on bends to maximise comfort, while in Dynamic mode, or whenever appropriate, shifting is inhibited to supply the best performance. During ASR/VDC system operation, as in All Weather mode, the engine of the Giulietta with Alfa TCT adapts its performance to ensure maximum vehicle stability. When starting off uphill from a standstill, the Alfa TCT interfaces with Start&Stop and the braking system via the Hill Holder function to prevent the car from slipping backwards.
With regards to ergonomics, the driver simply needs to release the brake pedal to make the car start off smoothly, either when parking, in queues or at the traffic lights thanks to the ALFA TCT’s creep function.
Further features of the new ALFA TCT include flexible application, compact construction, and the use of a double dry clutch (of the type which guarantees the highest efficiency in terms of consumption). This transmission is the first of its type in the world to handle up to 350 Nm of transmittable engine torque, which means that it can be coupled to the remarkable 2.0 JTDM-2 170 bhp diesel engine without limiting its performance, while securing all the advantages listed above at the same time.
ALFA TCT clutches are designed for life and unlike traditional clutches, do not need to be replaced. If we compare Dry clutches with oil bath (Wet) ones, we can safely say that the former dissipate energy only during the actual slipping phase of the gear change and on pick-up, whereas wet clutches, which always operate in an oil bath, introduce losses due to viscous friction such as those of conventional automatic transmissions even when they are not in operation. They also require forced cooling with oil and therefore continuous energy expenditure to drive the dedicated oil pump (absent in the case of dry clutches).
Lastly, a Wet automatic transmission requires approximately 4.8 litres more gearbox oil than a Dry version, again for reasons of clutch cooling. In this way, weight is added and losses are incurred due to an increase in splashing caused by the gears. When all these effects are combined, a Dry transmission, like the Alfa TCT, is found to be approximately 6% more efficient than the corresponding Wet one in terms of consumption.