During the 9th International Technical Conference on Vehicle Safety
Experiments at Kyoto, Japan (November 1982), Alfa Romeo presented two
experimental cars on the bases of the Alfasud 1.5 Quadrifoglio Oro. ESVAR
was built to save as much energy as possible. SVAR was the product of special
developments the Alfa Romeo engineers had made to improve imopact safety
and passenger protection in a possible crash.
ESVAR (Energy Saving Vehicle Alfa Romeo) was designed to save
fuel. A decrease in fuel consumption should be achieved without that the
car's layout would become to expensive to be produced in mass production.
So, first, the engineers tried to reduce fuel
consumption with the classical
and already known possiblities. They changed the gear ratios, reduced the
rolling resistance, reduced the weight of the car and improved aerodynamics. The
rolling resistance and the weight reduction (76 kg less than a serial 1.5
QO) where improved first, so that aerodynamic changes could be optimated
to the maximum. To reduce the cw number to 0.33, the engineers made use
of a larger front air dam, special hub caps and a rear spoiler. The next point to optimate was the engine. Although special gear ratios
could contribute to an improved fuel efficiency, all the efforts would
not be successful without an improved engine performance. To achieve a
better power output and a higher peak torque together with a decreased
fuel consumption, fuel had to be burned more completely. So the 1490 cm³
Boxer engine was equiped with a specially created electronic engine management
and fuel injection. A system called CEM controled fuel supply and ignition.
The igintion timing was made more widely controllable. The microprocessor
managed to give the engine a lean-burn characteristic. The compression
ratio was increased from 9,5:1 to 10,2:1. By the way, the exaust emissions
became much cleaner.
In additon, a cut off system was introduced which could stop the injection
of fuel during the up-stroke of the piston. But CEM was even capable of
doing more. Never before in the history of fuel engines, a 1500 cm³
four cylinder engine had been equiped with a cylinder shut-down system.
During light load and idling phases, CEM shut down two of the four cylinders.
Sensors in the induction ports related the angle of the throttle valves
to the speed of the engine and to the state of ignition advance and automatically
cut off two cylinders when possible.
The result of all improvements on the engine was a much higher torque.
The power output stayed the same (95 bhp), but peak power was now developped
at 5400 rpm instead at 6000 rpm. Because of all the aerodynamic improvements
on the body of ESVAR, it could achieve a top speed of 185 kph. A usual
1.5 QO made 174 kph.
The decreased weight gave the car better acceleration times: ESVAR
could accelerate from rest to a 100 kph in 9,8 instead of 10,7 seconds
and passed a kilometre after 1,25 seconds less than a serial 1.5 QO.
Of course, fuel consumption was reduced, too: Only 7,7 l went throught
the combustion chambers in the urban cycle, at a constant speed of
90 kph it was 5 l and at a constant speed of 100 kph 5,6 l were needed
for a 100 km.
SVAR (Synthesis Vehicle Alfa Romeo) used all improvements of ESVAR,
but was actually intended to give the passengers more active and passive
safety. Therefor, the engineers placed longitudinally corrugated stiffening
alloy sections into the doors. Today this feature is known as side impact
protection and has become standart equipment in nearly every car. The body
was stiffened with additional alloy reinforcements to achieve a better
passenger safety in highspeed front and rear impacts. Especially the front
of the car profited of this reinforcements. The strengthened roof and a
new redesigned bonnet panel also contributed to the improved impact safety. While the aerodynamical development on ESVAR was aimed at a reduced
fuel consumption, SVAR was restyled to get a better drag coefficient. The
effect of lateral wind on the body and handling of the car was another
point which was improved. The new redesigned rearwing should contribute
to a higher stability at topspeed.
All stiffenings and other measures increased the kerb weight by 54
kg. SVAR reached the same topspeed as ESVAR.
Only acceleration times changed and became a little slower (10,1 seconds
from rest to 100 kph). The standing start 1 km run needed about half a
second more time. Of course, SVAR was not only built to be forgotten in a museum. So
it had to verify its saftey improvements in hard crash-tests. It had to
cope with a 40 mph blow on the front quarter with a barrier angled at
30 degrees. And this without a fuel leak or a door that would burst open.
But it came even worse for "poor" SVAR. The next test was a 50 kph side
impact which should end without any door-opening, body crushing or fuel
Both prototypes were also tested at Alfa Romeo's own test track at Balocco
to control if any of the
mprovements had changed the basic roadholding
characteristics of the cars. ESVAR and SVAR already had the brake system of the Alfa 33 with outboardly
mounted front discs and rear drums which could later on also be found in
the Sprint. The new rear beam-axle of the Alfa 33 was also included in
the two prototypes.
Meanwhile most of the improvements have become standart equipment in
every Alfa Romeo.
Last Update: May, 28th 2004
Created: October, 28th 2000
© Layout und Text by Tim Rauen. The photos of this
page are published with the permission of Alfa Romeo S.p.a.