HOW well do the automised auto gearboxes work on a Fiat.

Discussion in 'Motorhome Chat' started by GWAYGWAY, Aug 19, 2015.

  1. GWAYGWAY

    GWAYGWAY Funster

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    I have been musing along the lines of buying a new van from Germany and the Hymer Exsis i 866 looks very attractive to me for the size and weight. I would like an Automatic as I have suffered from left leg/knee pains after a lot of traffic jams and long holdups, also Wifey MIGHT drive it if it was a bit less daunting and auto would help especially with LHD. The FIAT robotised box seems to fit the bill but I need to know how others have got on with them and how good are they to drive in traffic, I saw a complaint the the low gears are clunky and slow leading to jerky progress in jams. Is this so or am I worrying too much about it. The other thing is that the similar Ford box in the cars is set up to drag a bit on the clutch and that leads to a faster wear than the straight manual box. Is it the same do they need replacement after a time?
    The alternative is the MLi or MLt Hymers which are Mercedes 7 speed, proper automatics with a torque convertor the trouble is that they are considerably more expensive than the little exsis.
    Does anyone have experience of the two and can give me their considered of the difference there is in the ride and driveability.
     
  2. DanielFord

    DanielFord Funster

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    Firstly let me say I haven't driven the comfortmatic itself, however, the system is pretty much an automatic clutched gearbox. Of which I have driven many. So all that follows is my opinion of the systems I have driven, which are Toyota's multi mode transmission and the Seat/VW DSG. The Toyota system is a single clutch, and therefore more similar to the Fiat system.
    First off, they do not drive like either a manual or an auto box, and do take a little getting used to. To take off, you need a small amount of pressure on the pedal, rather than hoofing it like you would in a true auto. It takes a little while to learn how to get it to slip the clutch for a slow start, for example in a traffic jam.
    In normal driving, the box will constantly change if you keep altering throttle position, so get used to being very gentle with the throttle.
    My little Toyota still had the same clutch as when I bought it, so I don't think they wear the clutch any more than a standard manual. The box will have a certain lag whilst it works out what you want to do, so if you floor it from 20 in 4th for example, there is a slight delay before 2nd is selected and you are off.
    Other than that, I love the auto clutch systems now fitted to vehicles.
     
  3. makems

    makems Funster Life Member

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    We've had one of each.
    Our last van was a Rapido on a Mercedes chassis with proper auto.
    Box is absolutely brilliant, smooth as silk, holds perfectly on the steepest hills and you can trickle it along as slow as you like when manoeuvring without any problems. We did however encounter reliability problems, breaking down in Morocco and having to wait three weeks for a part from Germany.
    Our current Fiat-based Burstner is an automated manual with a clutch, so there can be a bit of roll back on steep hills. You have to get your foot off the brake and onto the loud pedal very quickly.
    Because it has a clutch, slow manoeuvring especially up a slope can cause the clutch to overheat. Visual and audible warnings are given but you will smell the clutch anyway!
    The trick is to try and manoeuvre as quickly as possible so the clutch isn't slipping. So if reversing into a space we tend to do it in a number of quick bursts rather than one slow smooth move.
    If you get one of the bigger motorhomes (ours is 5 tonnes) on a Fiat Comfortmatic, make sure it has traction control fitted. Ours doesn't and results in copious wheel spin setting off on a hill if the surface is at all dodgy eg gravel or dirt.
    You do get used to all these issues and adjust your driving style until it becomes second nature and the Fiat box is very smooth and I can't say it is clunky or slow in heavy traffic.
    We have the 3 litre Fiat engine which has plenty of power and always pulls strongly even on the steepest hills.
    We would have preferred a Mercedes chassis but couldn't get the layout we wanted on any manufacturer except with a Fiat chassis. As we only encounter the drawbacks occasionally we are prepared to put up with them to enjoy what is for us the perfect layout all the time.
    Hope that helps
     
  4. Lenny HB

    Lenny HB Funster

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    My Exsis i678 has the Comformatic with the 2.3, 150 engine, I love it.
    The only quirk it does have when going slow in 1st if you floor it for a quick getaway it tends to have a hesident change to 2nd, usually shows it's self went pulling onto roundabouts, you can get round it by pulling away a bit slower then flooring once it's in 2nd, or flip it into manual as you approach the junction that's what I tend to do.
    Supposed to improve once the engine is run in after 15,000 miles.

    Generally it performs very well no problems at all when crawling in traffic or maneuvering when parking.

    @DanielFord said "It takes a little while to learn how to get it to slip the clutch for a slow start, for example in a traffic jam." Don't Do It all will achieve is a nice burning clutch smell, just drive as you would a normal auto, just bear in mind it doesn't creep like a normal auto.

    The ML's are only Exsis bodies on a Merc base, a lot of money for an inferior product, Fiat have been leaders in the van section of the marker for quite a few years.
     
  5. Lenny HB

    Lenny HB Funster

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    Sounds like your hill holder isn't working, should be standard with the Comformatic box.

    All Hymers have Traction Plus, Hill Holder, EPS & ASR as standard.
     
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  6. makems

    makems Funster Life Member

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    No hill holder or traction control as standard on ours. We bought a new van the dealer had in stock and had no chance to spec it.
    If I'd known then what I know now I would probably still have bought it because it's the perfect layout for us.
     
  7. Charlie

    Charlie Funster

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    Awful things... Tried a 14 plate van with the 130 engine and it jerked badly . It rolled back on the very slight gradient exiting the dealers site.

    I love auto boxes and we have two auto cars so would have loved that option on our van.

    Google comfortronic and you will read terrible reports on these boxes and appalling failiure rates.

    Why they can't fit a standard torque converter gearbox I don't know ..

    Result was we have a 6 speed manual.
     
  8. Techno

    Techno Funster Life Member

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    Mine is a 2008 3 litre with comfortmatic. I never drive it in manual.
    It is faultless. It is not good to hold it on a hill with the accelerator unless you want to wear the clutch out . Make proper use of the handbrake, if it won't hold the van it is not roadworthy. Hill starts and reversing have never been a problem nor wet grass.
    I'd be very reluctant to swap it for anything else.

    EDIT a rarespares handbrake extender is essential and if you suffer from rubber grip creep, slide the ribber grip off and apply a good dose of hairspray as used to secure bicycle bar grips.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2015
  9. solo 1

    solo 1 Funster Life Member

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    Best auto box by a country mile..... VWs, DSG. Always in in the next gear and you do not notice the change up. Fab. :clap2: (y)
     
  10. Mel

    Mel Funster

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    I have the comfortmatic & 3lt (160hp)
    Just got back from a relaxed 8 week 5500km trip.
    And was glad I had this system.
    I whould buy the same again.
     
  11. Judge Mental

    Judge Mental Funster Deceased RIP

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    every X250 van (manual gears) I have had since 2011 have had hill hold?
     
  12. Clarky

    Clarky Funster

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    In 50 yrs of driving all sorts of vehicles I have never really wanted an auto box as I felt I had more control with a manual.
    Earlier this year we took delivery of our new Carthago with a Fiat 2.3l, 150bhp engine and auto box. The van is plated at 4 tonnes.
    The auto box is brilliant and you wouldn't get me to go back to a manual.
    I had read all the reports of it being slow to pull away at roundabouts but really I haven't found the slightly slower acceleration any problem.
    As we do most of our touring in France, the roundabout capitol of the world, the auto saves all those changes up and down through the box every few hundred metres.
    The box can be hesitant to change down when starting to labour a bit up hill but just a nudge forward on the 'stick' and it drops a gear.
    That is the only time I have used any manual input in the 6000 miles we have covered so far.
    Oh, and the fuel consumption on a new and heavy van is around 26mpg and I don't do slow. ;)
    In short, my recommendation would be to go for the auto. (y)

    Richard.
     
  13. Traveller_HA5_3DOM

    Traveller_HA5_3DOM Read Only Funster

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    The part I found most difficult was the manoeuvre onto leveling ramps. Our van is a Renault Master and whilst the auto/manual box was good on our last one on the 2011 Master this one on the latest Master is very much improved, so much so that I find myself looking at the gear number that I'm in to see what gear it's in. Looking round now for a small car with an auto that is as smooth. Very drawn to the DSG fleet from the VW stable.
     
  14. jemhorn

    jemhorn Funster

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    Again 4.5 tonne van Comfortmatic box just great. Not a smooth as Merc boxes but you get used to it and would never go back to a manual.
     
  15. John Laidler

    John Laidler Funster

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    Another vote for the Comfortmatic and with hillstart and traction+ driving is effortless. In mountainous areas it sometimes pays to put it in manual but that is no hardship.
     
  16. Teuchter

    Teuchter Funster

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    Having owned auto cars for the last 30 years (mostly mercedes) and also a 2.7 Mercedes Rapido auto I noticed the difference in the behaviour of the auto box on the Rapido - not as "slick" at changing up or down as the cars but still very good all round.
    I later discovered that the Rapido had a Mercedes Sprinter "sprintshift" auto box which is a "robotised" manual box and not a full auto box with a torque convertor.
    I now have a Fiat Knaus 2.3L 150hp engine and a "comfortmatic" auto/manual box which is definitely smoother than the sprintshift (then again it is new and the sprintshift had done 60k miles) however it can be a bit reluctant to change down early enough on hills but as Clarky said in #12 a nudge forward on the stick and all is well :)
     
  17. awg

    awg Funster

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    Another vote for the Comfortmatic.
    My 2015 Carthago has the hillstart but eh manual says it only stays active for 2 seconds so I do find it rolls back on hill starts. I just use my left foot on the brake so no problems. It's not as nice as a true automatic but it only took a few miles to be convinced it's ok and I much prefer it to a manual.
     
  18. CWH

    CWH Funster Life Member

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    Comfortmatic - beautiful, comfortable, stress-free driving from motorways to country lanes to traffic jams to the Highlands (y)
     
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  19. rolandrat

    rolandrat Funster

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    Totally agree. I'm on my second 3ltr Comfortmatic which is 100% pleasurable to drive. No faults whatsoever.
     
  20. Spottycatz

    Spottycatz Read Only Funster

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    Fiat 3ltr with Comfortmatic. Driven all over Europe this past two years and I just love it. Put it on cruise control, put the feet on dashboard and read a book. (y)
     
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