You can go out there and wait for 6 months and spend anywhere between $40,000 to $50,000 AUD on a Toyota Prius to get fuel economy of around 4.4 liters/100km, or you can buy a Fiat Punto for around $25,000 which gives you 4.6 liters/100km. Are you really going to make that $25,000 back in fuel costs? I don’t think so.
Fiat has already claimed, with the Punto 1.3 JTD, the crown as the most economical conventional car in Australia and at the Australian International Motor Show it will further extend its lead in economy with the Punto 1.3 JTD DualLogic, which is both more economical and offers a self-shifting gearbox.
“Fiat have called their new gearbox system DuaLogic because it delivers two logical requirements of a small car, better performance and better economy, and its made the Punto even easier and more convenient to drive” says David Stone, General Manager for Fiat Cars in Australia.
“Normally performance and economy pull in different directions, but the DuaLogic gearbox is designed to make extremely efficient use of the engines to which it is attached, ensuring that they are always working at their peak effectiveness for the task in hand. This translates into better performance and lower fuel consumption, by way of lower exhaust emissions. The Fiat Punto, with an official fuel consumption figure of 4.6 litres/100 km, is already the most fuel efficient conventional car in Australia. With the DuaLogic gearbox fitted, consumption drops to just 4.5 litres/100 km, a remarkable figure for manual car, let alone one with a self-shifting gearbox!”
The DuaLogic gearbox, which is available on the Fiat Punto with the 1.4 petrol engine as well as the Turbo Diesel Punto 1.3 JTD, is technically described as a sequential manual gearbox, which means it has a conventional clutch and gearbox, so there is no power-sapping torque converter and hydraulic gears. Instead there is small, light actuator unit to operate the clutch and move the gears, plus a highly intelligent computer.
Thus, the DuaLogic equipped Punto has the performance and economy of the manual car as a starting point, unlike a conventional automatic which is always at a disadvantage to a manual gearbox given its weight and power-consuming technology. To this already efficient system is added a computer that knows the engine to which it is connected inside-out. The computer ensures that the gearbox is always in the most effective gear for the performance required, maximising both performance and economy capabilities. Indeed, the Punto DuaLogic even knows if it is going downhill or climbing a hill and adjusts its changing pattens appropriately!
With the DuaLogic taking over the operation of the gearbox and the clutch, driving is easier and simpler. The driver has the choice of placing the Punto DuaLogic in automatic or manual modes. In automatic mode, DuaLogic does all the work, selecting the gears, operating the clutch and getting the best economy and performance. The driver can also select normal mode or economy mode, with, as the name suggests, the latter selection ensuring that the Punto extracts every the maximum energy out of every last drop of fuel.
DuaLogic doesn’t just blindly change gears. It has full fuzzy logic, so it can adapt to the driver’s style, matching his changing demands, both his style and changing road conditions. Another feature of the DuaLogic is its ability to assess vehicle deceleration and adjust downshifts. In semiautomatic mode, for example, the system allows downshifts, particularly when the driver demands a lower gear to take a corner at speed during a sporty drive. In automatic mode, the system anticipates the downshift to ensure the driver can always call on the most appropriate speed to maintain the required comfort level or fuel saving.
With the DuaLogic gearbox in automatic mode, its robotised electronic management system allows the gears to be changed at the time of maximum engine performance. This makes it possible to exploit all the power and torque of the 1.4 petrol and 1.3 Multijet Turbo Diesel engines and achieve a distinct improvement in acceleration over a manual gearbox.
However. This is an Italian car; therefore DuaLogic has a manual mode where, using the gear lever, the driver can self-select gears to get the maximum pleasure out of driving the Punto.
How does this translate in fuel economy terms?
In automatic mode with the Economy key engaged, the Punto consumes less fuel than a manual gearbox. Fuel consumption with the DuaLogic fitted is 5.7 compared with 5.9 l/100 km for the 1.4 petrol and 4.5 versus 4.6 l/100 for the Multijet. The most substantial benefits are achieved around town: 6.8 compared to 7.5 l/100 km for the 1.4 petrol and 5.8 compared to 5.9 l/100 for the Multijet.
DuaLogic also boosts safety. To prevent unwanted gear changes, the system engages neutral when the engine is still running and the door has been opened and DuaLogic device also activates warning lights and buzzers to notify the driver of emergency situations or manoeuvres that are not permitted and could damage the engine or gearbox.
The cream on the DuaLogic cake is that also saves money on purchase, with a lower purchase cost than a conventional automatic gearbox, with the Fiat Punto 1.4 DuaLogic available with a recommended retail price of $21,490 and the Punto 1.3 JTD DuaLogic offering an RRP of $23,490.