A strong C-segment (aka compact) vehicle platform has long been critical to the success of any automaker doing business outside of the United States. Increasingly, the same is becoming true here. Vehicles like the Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus and their derivatives are generally the highest volume sellers in the rest of the world. It's no secret that Fiat wants to be among the biggest players in the auto industry and it is launching its new global C-platform in Geneva next month under the new Alfa Romeo Giulieta.
Like Ford, which is planning up to two million C-cars a year, Fiat is also thinking big with a million of its own offerings in that class, including 700,000 Chrysler vehicles. The new platform is designed to be stronger than its predecessors without being any heavier. Over 90 percent of the structure is comprised of high and ultra-high strength steels. The modular structure is also designed to be built in different lengths and widths for a variety of vehicles.
The new platform will form the basis of the replacements for the PT Cruiser and Dodge Caliber from 2012 onwards.
[Source: Alfa Romeo, Automotive News - sub. req'd]
The Alfa Romeo Giulietta introduces the brand new "Compact" architecture
The Alfa Romeo Giulietta introduces an entirely new architecture - "Compact" - designed to satisfy the most demanding customers in terms of road-holding, agility and safety. It ensures both exceptional dynamic performance and high comfort levels, thanks to the refined technical solutions employed for the suspension; a new-generation steering system; a light and rigid structure created from materials such as aluminium and high-strength steels, with avant-garde manufacturing techniques. Furthermore, driving satisfaction and comfort can be adapted to the meet every customer's specific needs thanks to the Alfa DNA selector, a device that customises the vehicle's behaviour to suit different road conditions and driving styles.
So, the new Alfa Romeo is a completely new car which, drawing on the spirit of its famous predecessor, is without a doubt a sports car capable of expressing both great agility over the most demanding routes and providing comfort on everyday roads. Plus, thanks to a specific suspension calibration offered by the Sport Pack, the sportiness of the new Giulietta can be further enhanced.
The new "Compact" architecture continues Fiat Group Automobiles' architecture rationalisation strategy - preceded by the "Mini" architecture for segment A and the "Small" for segments B and L0 - and is a true "point of departure" from previous architectures due to the new content introduced, the materials used and the levels of performance achieved. Also, from the earliest design stages, the aim was to create a new architecture that would allow future Fiat Group Automobiles segment C vehicles, starting with the new Alfa Romeo Giulietta, to be ranked "best in class" in terms of handling, steering feel, performance to weight ratio, ride comfort, NVH (Noise Vibration Harshness), safety (active and passive) and climatic comfort.
First of all, the underbody represents a generational leap in terms of the materials used. The entire structure is now significantly stronger and provides better performance without any increase in weight with respect to the previous generation. All this is thanks to the ever wider use of high and ultra-high strength materials, which now make up more than 90% of the total mass of the system: some structural parts, designed to provide high strength and the ability to absorb impact with minimal deformation, have been made from hot-pressed tempered steel.
Moreover, lightweight materials have been used for several structural elements bolted to the body structure. For instance, the front beam connecting the front struts and the third load path are made from extruded aluminium. The rear bumper beam and the third load path energy absorption elements are made from Xenoy (a thermoplastic with excellent energy absorption properties in relation to weight). The third load path energy absorption elements absorb the energy of low-speed impacts with obstacles and support the bumper in impacts with pedestrians. Employing these solutions has provided a weight reduction of 8.5 kg at the front and 4 kg at the rear with respect to conventional steel structures, without compromising safety performance.
Another new feature of the underbody is its modularity, which makes it ideal for use on a family of vehicles with different wheelbases. This modularity is provided by several central floor panels and the side members and does not affect any part of the front and rear structures. This reduces outlay to a minimum and means that the system can be applied to other vehicle systems without modification.
Many of the systems and components that make up the "Compact" architecture have been thoroughly revised with respect to the previous generation, improving performance and reducing weight (-35% for both the framework of the rear seats as well as the magnesium alloy cross car beam).
Giulietta offers exceptional handling performance and comfort levels thanks above all to the new suspension system employed. The Mc Pherson front suspension in particular was revised to offer maximum rigidity under side loads, reducing the weight thanks to the use of aluminium (saving 4 kg with respect to cast-iron solutions). The rear suspension is, on the other hand, brand new: the layout is a sophisticated, cutting-edge Multilink that does not compromise the useful volume of the luggage compartment and, thanks to the aluminium wishbones, allows for a weight reduction of over 10 kg with respect to conventional Multilink systems.
In addition, the new electric power steering system ensures an excellent steering feel and is integrated with the vehicle's active safety systems. The climate control system was also specifically designed to provide the best climatic conditions in the passenger compartment, while significantly reducing over-consumption of fuel (30% less than a conventional system). Similarly, thanks to specific technical features, exceptional noise and vibrational quality values have been achieved.
In terms of passive safety, the Alfa Romeo Giulietta was produced to obtain the maximum Euro NCAP rating, as demonstrated by over fifteen thousand hours of mathematical modelling, 80 crash tests, 150 tests on a HyGe slide and more than 100 tests on components and sub-systems. In detail, the new third load path increases the energy absorption potential of the vehicle front end and reduces both inertial forces and passenger compartment intrusion, thereby ensuring optimum passenger protection at higher impact severity. Safety is guaranteed by 6 airbags (as standard on the entire range); three-point seatbelts with double pretensioners and load limiters; the collapsible pedal unit and steering column; the second-generation anti-whiplash system and the Isofix mountings.
Lastly, in terms of active safety, the new architecture of the Alfa Giulietta was designed to integrate the vehicle's different systems and exploit them to the full, thus emphasising the three set-up functions (Dynamic, Normal and All Weather) available through the Alfa DNA selector. This device, fitted as standard on the entire range, is designed to modify the operating parameters of the engine, gearbox, steering system and Q2 electronic differential, in addition to the behaviour logic of the Vehicle Dynamic Control system (VDC). Giulietta will also be introducing Pre-Fill - a new function - activated when the DNA is set to Dynamic, which uses the VDC system to provide the driver with the quickest braking response possible. These sophisticated features which improve the dynamic control of the vehicle are supported further by the Dynamic Steering Torque (DST), a function which provides the driver with a feed-back torque at the steering wheel that helps him to perform critical manoeuvres correctly, before the VDC intervenes to prevent loss of control.
Turin, 8 February 2010