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2009 Lancia Delta Executive Unveiled

February 24th, 2009
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Geneva sees the debut of the Delta Executive, the new Lancia flagship which exactly matches the requirements of a refined customer who is alive to technological developments but knows the value of tradition, who wants a solid product but also exclusivity and prestige. These are businessmen, managers and independent professionals who know how to combine conceptually opposing values such as tradition and innovation, rationality and emotion, but who are also representatives of the institutional and diplomatic milieus.

Aimed, therefore, at customers seeking greater elegance and comfort, the Delta Executive offers an exclusive rear seat providing the same comfort as a business class seat on an intercontinental flight. In addition, the roominess of the rear passenger compartment in the Delta is the best in the market segment, confirming that Lancia has devoted the utmost attention to the space reserved to passengers rather than just the driver. So the original Executive version is also the perfect answer for prestige representation purposes. The version shown at Geneva is fitted with the powerful 1.8 liter Di TurboJet engine developing 200 HP and Euro 5 compliant, coupled with a new 6-speed automatic transmission. In addition, from the outside, the Delta Executive is distinguished by its two-tone bodywork (body in Light Bronze and “Eclipse” gloss black roof), the special two-tone diamond-edged alloy rims, the gold “D” logo on the door pillar and the word “Delta” on the rear window as well as the special trims. Inside, the Lancia Delta Executive offers high-quality seats with new wraparound head restraints and dashboard covered in Frau Pieno Fiore beige leather with special chocolate brown edging, “Montblanc” black dashboard, double tinted glass courtesy light on the roof liner and leather embellished with new elegant stitching. Developed from the Delta Platino, the new version offers as standard: Reactive Suspension System, parking sensors, 6 airbags, dual-zone automatic climate control, Granluce sunroof, Instant Nav, Absolute Handling System, fog lights with cornering function, and a front armrest withrefrigerator compartment.

Let’s look in detail at three very interesting features of the new Executive version of the Lancia Delta: the Absolute Handling System and DST (Drive Steering Torque) steering wheel; the electronic suspension with variable damping (Reactive Suspension System); and the new semi-automatic parking assistance system (Magic parking).

Absolute Handling System and DST (Drive Steering Torque) steering wheel

To ensure perfect control of the car by the driver, the Lancia Delta uses the “Absolute Handling System” – a development of ESP (Electronic Stability Program) - the system which intervenes in conditions close to the limit, when the stability of the car is at risk, and helps the driver to control the vehicle. In addition, two further systems are coupled to the Absolute Handling System: the Hill Holder system, which assists the driver on hill starts; the ASR anti-slip system (Anti Slip Regulation), which optimizes traction at all speeds using the brakes and engine control; and the MSR system (Motor Schleppmoment Regelung – Drag Torque Regulation), which cuts in and reduces engine torque when the gear is shifted down abruptly when climbing.

But the Absolute Handling System on the Lancia Delta is an “advanced” type in that it introduces some very important functions such as LTF (Linearisation Torque Feedback) and TTC (Torque Transfer Control). In addition, the new control system always intervenes “discreetly” thanks to its association with DST (Drive Steering Torque), the “active electronic steering system” which automatically makes corrections and corrects oversteer on low grip surfaces.

DST (Drive Steering Torque) is the innovative system which improves both driving safety and handling behavior. Under all driving conditions, the electronic steering system suggests to the driver the correct maneuvers to be performed, resulting in optimum roadholding and instilling a great sense of security. It is the result of the continuous interaction between the electric power steering (which applies torque to the steering wheel) and electronic dynamic control (Absolute Handling System). In effect, DST automatically makes corrections, helps maintain control of the vehicle and makes the intervention of the Absolute Handling System more “discrete”.

There are three conditions under which the DST system proves particularly useful:

- In the event of oversteer the system performs the most appropriate maneuver to maintain control of the car under all conditions.
- MCF (Mu-Split Control Function) intervenes in the event of driving on surfaces with variable grip (for example, it often happens in winter that two wheels are on ice while the other two are on asphalt). In this particular case, the DST system orders an automatic countersteer which controls the car (avoiding a spin) and at the same time stopping as quickly as possible (braking distance reduced by 10%).
- LTF (Liberalization Torque Feedback): in sports driving, if the system detects increased lateral acceleration (above 0.6 g) it cuts in, providing increased torque against the steering wheel. In this way, it markedly improves the sensation of control on bends, especially at high speeds.

Finally, Lancia Delta offers the new TTC system (Torque Transfer Control) which improves the transfer of engine torque to the wheels and, in particular, guarantees optimum behavior of the car on bends, making it safer and more enjoyable in sports driving or in low grip conditions. The TTC system is based on exploiting the braking system which, accurately operated by the electronic control unit of the Absolute Handling System, creates behavior very similar to a limited slip differential (in other words the TTC system electronically simulates the presence of a self-locking differential). In particular, the front braking system, under acceleration on bends, operates on the inside wheel, thereby increasing the motive power of the outside wheel (higher load), thereby distributing the torque between the front driving wheels dynamically and continuously in accordance with the driving conditions and road surface.

Electronic suspension with variable damping (Reactive Suspension System)

The suspension layout used by the Lancia Delta makes use of a consolidated architecture optimized for comfort and lightness: the front suspension is MacPherson type with mechanical crossmember and wishbones optimized for the new load conditions; at the rear a torsion bar and anti-roll bar solution was chosen to achieve optimum driving performance.

But the biggest novelty of the model is the introduction of a system created in collaboration with Magneti Marelli: the innovative oscillation damping system (Reactive Suspension System), hitherto reserved for the most modern cars in the top segments and applied for the first time by the Fiat Group to a car in the medium segment. The Reactive Suspension System – using real time electronic control of the shock absorbers – reduces oscillations of the car body under all driving conditions, thereby guaranteeing the highest levels of safety, comfort and drivability. Using several sensors, the system identifies the driving scenario and the road conditions and chooses the most appropriate control programs. These include the function known as “Sky-Hook”, which isolates the passenger compartment and makes it notionally motionless with respect to external disturbances.

In addition, thanks to the computing power of the electronic control unit and the instantaneous response of precise electrovalves, the system immediately cancels out disturbances coming from uneven road surfaces and provides optimal dynamic control even in sports driving mode (selectable), improving handling and steering precision.

Last but not least, the Reactive Suspension System reduces the stopping distance of the car (by about 5%, due to the perfect contact between wheel and ground) and provides prompt intervention in the event of emergency maneuvers with subsequent smooth resumption of safety conditions.

Semi-automatic parking assistance system (Magic parking)

Finding a suitable parking space is often a difficult operation in cities with high traffic densities. And once one is found, due to the narrowness of the spaces available, the maneuver can be quite demanding. To counter this, the Lancia Delta has an innovative parking assistance system which helps the driver both to recognize whether a parking space is big enough, and to perform the actual entry maneuver. In fact, the system first measures the length of the free space, indicating whether it is sufficient for the car. Next, the system automatically steers the vehicle when reversing, leaving the driver to adjust the speed using accelerator and brake.

In a single maneuver, the vehicle is positioned correctly in a parallel parking space, optimizing entry into the free space available in order to limit the number of successive alignment maneuvers of the vehicle by the driver. Obviously, the driver has full control of the whole operation by operating the pedals, and can deactivate the system by operating the steering wheel or disengaging reverse gear, or alternatively pressing the dedicated push button.

The heart of the system is a radar sensor installed on the right and left sides of the vehicle, inside the front bumpers. The radar beam is sent into the space to the right (or left) and the echoes are detected by the sensor, which generates a map of the area between the parked cars, “sees” the free space and identifies other possible obstacles. At the same time, using the information coming from the measurement of wheel speed, the system is able to measure the length of the free spaces.

The driver is notified of the presence of a suitable parking space if the length measured is compatible with the dimensions of the vehicle plus 130 centimeters (must be at least 5.82 meters): an acoustic signal indicates recognition of a suitable space, while the display indicates whether the parking maneuver can be calculated in a single or several operations.

If the driver considers the parking space identified acceptable and engages reverse gear, the system is able to control the lateral movement of the vehicle using the power steering, allowing the driver take his hands off the steering wheel and control the movement of the vehicle exclusively with the accelerator and brake pedals: in this phase, the maximum speed allowed is 7 km/h and, if the driver wants to interrupt operation of the system, he need only resume control of the steering wheel.

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