Fiat presents the new Croma, an evolution of the Station Wagon concept, which will be on the market in the Summer.
•generous interior roominess for outstanding comfort
•technological innovation in the field of diesel engines
•superior quality for a mass produced model
The Fiat Group has set numerous records in the field of diesel cars, starting with the Croma TDI which was the world's first direct injection diesel car back in 1986.
The new Croma is offered with 5 different gearboxes to exploit the performance of its engines in full; all the engines meet EU Stage 4 emissions standards, and the diesel units are fitted with particulate filters. All the petrol engines are combined with 5-speed transmissions, with the option of the sequential automatic transmission on the 2.2 16v, and all the diesel engines have 6-speed gearboxes (the sequential automatic unit is offered as an alternative on the 150 bhp 1.9 Multijet, and as the standard unit on the powerful 200 bhp 2.4 Multijet 20v).
The Fiat Croma is made all the more enjoyable by the optional large opening sunroof (approximately 1.5 m2); this sunroof covers up almost the entire area of the roof and comprises two glass panels: a fixed rear panel and an electrically opening front panel. Inside there are two sunshades that slide independently towards the rear of the car.
The panoramic sunroof gives occupants a completely new relationship with the surrounding environment, enjoying the luminosity and the sense of freedom that this large glazed surface provides. When the driver wants more light inside, the system lets him keep the sunroof closed but the blind underneath open. If, on the other hand, he likes the feeling of driving "in the open", the front glazed panel and sunblind can be opened completely in just seven seconds, to produce a real "window onto the sky".
In line with the high active safety targets, the new Croma is equipped with highly effective, extremely modular braking systems.
First of all, the braking system incorporates the most sophisticated electronic and mechanical aids - ABS, EBD, ESP, HBA (with ESP) and a Hill-holder (with ESP) - and it is of the power-assisted hydraulic type, with 2 independent cross-over circuits (each circuit controls one front wheel and the diagonally opposite rear wheel) to guarantee braking and stability even if one circuit should fail.
The entire range is equipped with discs all round, ventilated at the front (and at the rear on the Multijet 1.9 16v and 2.4 20v versions). Because of the different weights and power deliveries of the various engines, the braking systems also vary.
The outstanding level of safety on the Croma is guaranteed by structural measures designed to ensure that the passenger compartment cell will not deform in a crash, by a standard outfit of 7 airbags and by active safety devices that include ABS and ESP.
In this context, the Fiat Auto engineers have analysed all possible types of accident (head-on and side-on impact, overturning, nose-to-tail and fire), taking into account the different speeds at which a crash may occur, the different types of obstacle and the protection of occupants with very different physical characteristics. Some facts and figures that underline the enormous commitment that the company put into making the new Croma one of the safest cars in its segment: 18,000 hours of calculation, 120 crash tests, 100 crash simulations on a HyGe sled, 200 tests on components and subsystems, 10 new types of performance specifications and test procedures, 8 co-design suppliers with specific structures for passive safety (2 of whom were involved exclusively in the design and development of the safety devices).
The tests performed developed a crumple-zone cell to protect passengers in a head-on impact: the front structure is made up of 3 longitudinal load lines comprising front struts of high yield material, a mechanical frame in the lower part and 2 further small beams level with the wing that deform to block the stress from the upper part of the vehicle.
The magnesium crossbeam positioned between the two front pillars under the facia, guarantees a strong link between the pillars and with the floor, which it is connected by two steel reinforcements. This architecture contributes significantly to preventing deformation in the whole front part of the passenger compartment during both head-on and lateral impact. It also acts as a support structure for the steering column, and minimises the tendency of the steering wheel to retract and rear up in all types of frontal impact.
Structural changes were introduced to the following to protect occupants in a side impact:
• the central pillar, made of sheet metal with a very high structural resistance and filled with structural foam in the area of greatest flexion. This means that the pillar transfers most of the impact force to the sill and the roof frame;
• the floor, adding 2 seat crossbeams that unload some of the impact force on the opposite side of the car;
• the roof, inserting a transverse strut near the 2 central pillars;
• the doors, inserting a boxed crossbeam in the waist area and longitudinal bars made of material with a very high structural resistance. For rear impact, particularly at low speed, the presence of a "crash box" crossbeam that is screwed in place guarantees limited damage and easy repairs. What is more, to ensure that the fuel supply system is not damaged, the structure was successfully subjected to the test envisaged by the strict Japanese legislation. The structural efficiency of the bodyshell was obtained in part thanks to the use of special steel for over 40% of the weight.
Where restraint systems are concerned, the Croma offers:
• 2 dual stage front airbags (standard); when impact is of medium intensity, the electronic control unit only activates the first stage of the airbags, preventing the influx of energy that is not necessary to protect the occupant. But with very strong impact, the control unit activates both stages to absorb the occupant's high kinetic energy before he or she hits the steering wheel or the facia;
• front seat-belts with pre-tensioners and load limiters;
• decentralised supplementary sensors in the engine bay to detect head-on impact. These deceleration sensors (ECS - Early Crash Sensor) are positioned on the ends of the headlight crossbeam, near the light clusters, and they help the main electronic control unit to speed up airbag activation compared to a conventional system, particularly in the event of offset impact;
• driver's side knee airbag (standard): the area under the steering column has always been the most dangerous for the knees, but it is rendered innocuous both by the use of the knee-bag and by an electric steering lock, which has allowed the ignition key to be moved from its usual position on the side of the steering column to a characteristic position on the central tunnel console. Polypropylene foam energy absorbers have also been adopted to protect the steering column and the adjacent fusebox;
• a "passive" anti-whiplash device on the front head restraints, made up of a "rocker arm" mechanism, that acts between the upper part of the squab and the head restraint itself. In the event of a rear impact this exploits the thrust of the occupant's back on the seat squab to move the head restraint forward, this further reducing the horizontal distance between the head restraint and the passenger's neck compared to the static condition defined by the styling;
• front seat-belt sensors (Seat-belt reminder);
• manual switch to disengage the passenger airbag;
• front side airbags (standard); they are of the chest type and together with the door panels they protect critical parts of the body such as the ribs and abdomen. Installing them in the seats is a guarantee of greater efficiency at all times;
• curtain-bags (standard): they are activated together with the sidebags, and they inflate between the occupant and the side of the car, preventing the head from coming into contact with highly intrusive objects. Because they inflate from the front pillar towards the luggage compartment, curtain-bags protect both front and rear passengers;
• rear side airbags (optional): the sidebags are of the chest type and together with the door panels they protect critical parts of the body such as the ribs and abdomen. Installing them on the sides of the seat squabs always guarantees maximum protection at all times.
The new Fiat Croma is fitted with the most sophisticated electronic and mechanical active safety systems:
• ABS: anti-wheel lock system.
• EBD: electronic brake effort distribution.
• ESP: active control of the longitudinal and transverse dynamics of the vehicle.
On versions powered by the 147, 150 and 200 bhp engines, ESP is standard equipment and includes the following supplementary systems:
• ASR: limits drive wheel slip when accelerating, to prevent power oversteer or understeer and improve acceleration when surface grip is poor.
• MSR: prevents engine lock when decelerating, opens and closes the throttle valve, gradually adapting the braking effort of the engine to the situation at a given moment.
• HBA: electronic hydraulic braking assistant, which automatically increases the pressure of the braking circuit during panic braking.
• Hill-holder: an automatic device to release the brakes after a hill stop.
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