Alfa has thrived on a reputation for sportiness. In the eyes of many, particularly the more rabid Alfisti, this equates to a manual shift. That said, Alfa is also pitching itself as trendy – and fashionistas may just view a stick shift as old fashioned, not to mention hard work. It’s the perfect gap for the Twin-Clutch Transmission, TCT for short.
With one clutch for the odd gears and another for the evens, it is more or less permanently primed for action. We certainly found it unobtrusive, slick and easy to use on our jaunt around the Cradle of Humankind. Given the rate at which alarmingly mountainous speed bumps are sprouting around the area’s roads, an auto-shift turned out to be a blessing.
In the Giulietta, the TCT is mated with the 125 kW 1.4 Turbo MultiAir engine, enabling the car to accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h marginally quicker than the manual version. The improvement in economy is more eyebrow-raising: from 5,8 to 5,2 litres/100 km. And, of course, the Giulietta is still the highest-scoring compact car ever on the Euro NCAP safety ratings.
The MiTo TCT’s 1.4-litre Turbo MultiAir engine is less powerful at 100 kW, and betters its manual equivalent handsomely in both acceleration and economy. Prices, including service plan: Mito 1.4 Turbo MultiAir Distinctive TCT, R265 000; Giulietta 1.4 Turbo Multiair Distinctive TCT R315 000.
Doubling up. Essentially two gearboxes in parallel, one for even gears and one for odd gears, each with its own dry clutch, TCT allows the selection and engagement of the subsequent gear while the previous one is still engaged. Changes are so quick, the torque flow is almost seamless.
According to Fiat, it’s designed to provide a drive that’s comfortable yet sporty, while improving efficiency – cutting fuel consumption by up to 10 per cent compared with a traditional gearbox. Like other autoboxes, it can operate fully automatic or sequentially.
Wallpaper: See New on the block (July 2012 issue)for wallpaper images of selected cars.