Every now and then you’ll come across an engine so startlingly good that your first encounter with it from behind the wheel creates a lasting impression.
BMW’s V10, Volkswagen’s TSI twin charge, Ferrari’s V8 all fit into that category and this year I added to that list Fiat’s astonishing MultiAir. To be strictly accurate, MultiAir is not an engine but an ultra-efficient way of getting the air and petrol mixture into the combustion chambers. The results are spectacular – prodigious power from a small capacity and unbelievable fuel economy figures to boot.
Power goes up by a tenth, fuel consumption and CO2 emissions down by the same amount while torque increases by 15 per cent. The first time I drove it was in a Fiat Grande Punto 1.4 which I would have sworn had a 1.8 or 2.0 litre engine under the bonnet. A few weeks ago I tested an Alfa Romeo Giulietta with MultiAir and again I was hugely impressed.
The beauty of MultiAir is that it is scaleable so it can be fitted to bigger or smaller engines. Later it will adorn a new V6 to be shared between Alfa Romeo and Chrysler and recently it has just allowed Fiat to do the ultimate in down-sizing, slotting an 875 cc two-cylinder unit into the Fiat 500. And if you think a twin cylinder sounds pretty puny, the Fiat can still produce more than 100 bhp…
And it seems that people are rather taking to it and MultiAir is racking up the awards. It has just won the Technobest award. This award represents the votes of 15 specialist journalists from countries ranging from Russia to Greece and whose populations total 300 million – that’s a lot of potential customers for a small, efficient little car!
Earlier this year the jury of the International Engine of the Year voted it the best new engine – that’s the best of 66 new and all very impressive engines.
But there’s only one way that you will really understand how stellar this latest engine is – get yourself into a car powered by one. Fiat or Alfa, it doesn’t matter – I promise you won’t forget your first go in one.
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