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Like many of you i'm worried about the Carbon buildup in my otherwise perfect 2019 Stelvio Quadrifoglio. I do have 3400 miles, Covid is not helping since we go mostly at Costco or some place around town.
I went to my dealer here in California yesterday and he confermid that issues existed. He pushed on me e a "cleaning with special fluid" for $200. I told him that I can buy a can of Valves cleaner for $ 13$ at Autozone and I understood the labor but $200 seemed a lot to spray a can inside the air intake. He said that on the Stelvio they disassembly quite a bit and manually clean inside. I guess last part is a lie but I can understand that a daler needs to operate on 50% margins. I asked what cars were showing the problem and he told me "100% of them were driven grandpa-style. People going slow in traffic without using a single time race mode". Being Italian that is definetely not me. The Italian Tuneup comes natural to me. He said that all the customers pushing it in Race once in a while weren't showing issues.
This morning I called a Friend on the East Coast. He is a Ferrari Car Salesman but he also sells Alfa and Maserati. He's smart guy with high IQ, doesn't bullshit friends. He told me that many of his Ferrari Customers bought a Stelvio quad as everyday car to mantein that Ferrari feeling and not a single one reported the problem. He has several customers that put 70000 miles on it, bought it the early days over 2 yars ago and the car goes like a charm to the point that he never heard the carbo buildup story and he doesn't push any "remedy".
What do you guys make of this. It would be nice to define a procedure for a safe cleanup using these sprays available and put it on youtube. It wouldn't bother me to do it myself every 3-5000 miles. No big deal if this keep my beloved engine clean. I just don't want to go gun-ho and mess around the engine like a kid,making the MAF sensors dirty etc.

Opinions?
Regards, Gabriele
 

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Carbon buildup will not be an issue on 2020 and newer models as they have port injection in addition to direct injection. Our 2019s in NA it will eventually need addressed. The guy is a snake oil salesman. Yes carbon buildup occurs in the manifold and on back side of valves on every engine with direct injection unless it also has port injection. Whether and when it will be an issue is different for every engine design. Some audis are notorious for carbon buildup and others not so much. If you still own the car at 80 or 100k it may be an issue to get addressed. The way you drive plays a minor role compared to the engine design. Your not going to run the car so hard that you clean out carbon buildup in the intake manifold without damaging the engine. Drive and enjoy and buy extended warranty. For more info check out “engineering explained” on YouTube and search his channel for carbon buildup.
 

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For more info check out “engineering explained” on YouTube and search his channel for carbon buildup.
Yes, correct. Consider though that some pretty good video on youtube have the point that if you clean with these sprays every 5000 miles or so instead of waiting too much, the buildup will never reach levels where you have to "nut-blast" your valves.
 

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The cleaning sprays are better than snake oil but not worth the expense. They are essentially oil/fuel additives without the oil/fuel (or less). Far from worthless. However, there is a possibility thier use could lead to low-speed pre-ignition which is worse then carbon (particularly with oil additives)


It isnt about driving so hard you clean out build-up (although that can happen). It is about running the engine at optimal temperatures so the build-up doesn't form. Research has shown deposits form between 383 -554f. Running the engine hotter creates less deposits, cooler, more.

Driving in a way where you hit redline every so often creates higher internal temps for a longer period than just while the engine is revving.

With that said it is only this way due to design issues the 2020 fixes. So the only reason a 2020 Quad owner has to not drive slow is a moral obligation to not be weak. (The rest of us non 2020 Quad owners, or worse, lowly 4cyl owners...we can't..cause..carbon build-up.)

Here is an article and the Engineering Expained breakdown of it. Video: Is Running Your Engine Up To Redline Actually Good For It?.
 

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The cleaning sprays are better than snake oil but not worth the expense. They are essentially oil/fuel additives without the oil/fuel (or less). Far from worthless. However, there is a possibility thier use could lead to low-speed pre-ignition which is worse then carbon (particularly with oil additives)


It isnt about driving so hard you clean out build-up (although that can happen). It is about running the engine at optimal temperatures so the build-up doesn't form. Research has shown deposits form between 383 -554f. Running the engine hotter creates less deposits, cooler, more.

Driving in a way where you hit redline every so often creates higher internal temps for a longer period than just while the engine is revving.

With that said it is only this way due to design issues the 2020 fixes. So the only reason a 2020 Quad owner has to not drive slow is a moral obligation to not be weak. (The rest of us non 2020 Quad owners, or worse, lowly 4cyl owners...we can't..cause..carbon build-up.)

Here is an article and the Engineering Expained breakdown of it. Video: Is Running Your Engine Up To Redline Actually Good For It?.
I’m not sure we are reading the same article or watching the same video. Yes, an Italian tuneup may help with removal of carbon deposits on the cylinder head and exhaust valve faces and seats. It won’t however do anything for carbon buildup on the back and seats of the intake valves or in the intake itself. In fact, running hard will/can actually increase the development and accumulation of carbon buildup on intake seats/valves and the intake manifold due to increased volume of spent contaminated gases through egr & pcvs (as discussed in the article you linked). When I said snake oil I wasn’t referring to the product he was pushing as much as when. I ride my girl hard and only in D or race mode and know carbon buildup will be an issue eventually just as it is on every modern direct injection engine without port injection. Anyway, not intentionally being argumentative as you often provide useful info on the forum. My 2 cents, cheers. 🍻
 

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Discussion Starter #6
With that said it is only this way due to design issues the 2020 fixes. So the only reason a 2020 Quad owner has to not drive slow is a moral obligation to not be weak. (The rest of us non 2020 Quad owners, or worse, lowly 4cyl owners...we can't..cause..carbon build-up.)

Here is an article and the Engineering Expained breakdown of it. Video: Is Running Your Engine Up To Redline Actually Good For It?.
Thanks for the link. BTW what is hard to understand why Alfa was selling in US this engine while in Europe they had the hybrid injection since the beginning due to the new EURO6 regulations. I don't really understand with these volumes what kind of saving they got. I would have been happy to pay the car an extra $1000 and have the hybrid injection.
 

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So, after all, there is no 100% conclusion, what exactly to do, to minimise the carbon buildup in Multiair/DI engines??? I am asking for the 2.0T 4 cylinder engine, which in 2020MY in EU ,is without EGR.So far the mechanical cleaning seems inevitable after around 100K km. ? The article with the video above, speaks against "Italian tune up",unless done on track, but if done too often it will lead to other engine components to go off faster, right???.........damn, it is vicious circle.
 

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There is no 100% conclusion in most things sadly....

Ok..so...as much as I love Engineering Explained, reality is some of the conclusions they reach are not fully fleshed out. I posted the article only to discuss the temp portion. The overall conclusion reached is dubious IMO.

Going to go deep now...

#1: Why do they say running the engine hotter, or using an "Italian tune up", isn't a solution?

Because one study was found where running a direct injection engine hotter caused more issues not less. The reason I linked to the article instead of the video, is the article includes links to the studies discussed so the reader can do thier own research as opposed to just listening to another person's conclusions, which is important, particularly with this study.

The study that found increased carbon build-up when a 2.0 turbo GDI Engine was run hot, is not fully applicable to most driving styles or even most direct injection engines. Why not?

The study was skewed to create carbon build-up. Did not use "real world" methodology at all, and particularly egregiously they used a VERY worn engine.

Link to study: Formation of Intake Valve Deposits in Gasoline Direct Injection Engines Click on it and then select the preview option if you don't want to buy the entier thing. Go to the second preview page where they start to explain the methods used.

The engine used was a 2008 GM EcoTec engine with 800,000km (almost 500,000mi) on the odometer. Several issues here,

1 - this is basically a first gen DI and very primitive. The combustion chamber is an "optimized" port injection chamber, not one designed for DI. Basically the engineers moved the valve placment, they did not redesign the chamber. This is less efficent, runs cooler and contributes to less complete combustion. All of which contributes to increased carbon build-up over a more efficent combustion chamber design. (Which the Stelvio 2.0 and 2.9 have)

2 - the Variable Valve System is designed for Port injection not specifically designed for DI. Again..this is a known issue and why now everyone uses a more advanced variable valvetrain.

3 - it has a compression ratio of 9.2,1 vs the 2.0 Stelvio's 10,0 it is very close to the 2.9's 9.3,1 ratio though. Regardless, Higher ratios run hotter, offer more complete combustion..less carbon.

4- the miles alone are a concern and make it not as applicable to new engines. Almost 500k on the engine before it is used for carbon testing? The wear on that engine causes inefficiencies. An engine with 500,000 miles on it does not run like one with 2000 miles..does not burn gas as efficently...probably burns oil. Which contributes to carbon biuld-up..and it gets worse the harder the engine is run. This is especially important considering the study was a "flush and run" meaning nothing was done besides giving it gas and oil. No mechanical maintenance.

Which leads us to the next problem with the methodology of this study.

They didn't use off-the-shelf oil. The researcher created a specific oil formula using increased additives specifically to cause more carbon build-up.

Then...they performed thier tests under high load-high temp conditions but made the cycles short for easy repeatability.

In other words the engine was not warmed up first and not really even ran till it got fully warmed up. This creates a situation where there is high heat at the point of combustion but the valves are not hot. As such they biuld-up more carbon...which is part of why you should wait to hit even 3/4 redline till the engine is fully up to temp.

While this is a solid study that produced alot of info about how carbon build-up happens, it is really not applicable in terms of using the findings to say high heat causes worse carbon build-up. It is applicable in saying high heat in an old engine that hasn't been warmed up and is filled with oil containing too many additives causes carbon build-up.

It should also be said given all the design variations causing that engine to run cooler than newer DI engines like in the Stelvio, even when it is run hot..the Stelvio is running hotter, and since the decorboxilzation that removes carbon build-up only happens at the top end of even an Alfa engine's operating range, it is entirely possible the GM engine never even reaches optimal temp when run hot. Doesnt mean other engine's don't. Does mean the finding are not widely applicable.

Why didn't EE explain any of this? Who knows. My guess would be they found the study based on the title and then read the Abstract and Conclusion without looking at the methodology used to achieve them.


#2. The valves won't get hot enough to matter.

Well that study pointed to in the article/video found that. Again though, look at the methodology.

That study was done on a port injection engine. Not DI. The temperature's discussed do not apply to DI which places the valve closer and doesn't wash it with gas, which also means it doesn't cool the valves some during every cycle. Instead the heat just builds on the metal valve body. Metal conducts heat very well. Is the side facing away for combustion cooler than the front side? Of course. 100degrees cooler? No. Probably more like 20.

Somehow in a discussion on carbon build-up in DI engines, when the conversation turns to the valvetrain they begin talking about port injection..why? I really don't know.

However, when it comes to the intake valves, it appears that hard use may actually have the opposite effect, putting them into the heat zone where carbon buildup forms. That means that on a port injection engine......
Regardless the temps reached by a Port Injected engine is not the same as the temps reached by Direct Injection. DI runs hotter.

Since heat is what we need does that mean DI engines get the valve hot enough?

I can't find specific research on that, however anecdotal evidence says yes. Not ALL DI engines have carbon problems. Many do, maybe most. Realize...most people also drive very slow and never give thier engines a work out. People who do work thier engines..overwhelmingly have less issues.

For instance, the Jetta I got rid of to get the Stelvio didnt have excessive build-up at 50k, and my nephew's VW Passat has 80k on it with no excessive build up.

However, please understand I dont believe this is because of doing an "italian tune-up" every once and a while then otherwise driving like a snail. It's from almost always being the first person to pull away from a stop light, almost always hitting cruising speed on any road faster than the cars around, downshifting and holding high RPM through twisty roads, and generally driving like we have somewhere to go when in the car.

I am not talking about an italian tune up once a day.

I am talking about using the entier rev band, pretty much every time the car is started and driven long enough to warm up fully.

Which, given the power in the Quad is alot harder to do for ya'll then it is for me. I can hit redline 4 times just pulling out of a parking lot and merging into traffic....and I do..regularly. So much fun. How that could be done in a quad...honestly no idea. That car is crazy fast. Maybe an owner who understands the power delivery at different speeds and gear ratios can suggest something. My first thought would be to use higher gears at lower speeds. In other words start in 2nd and upshift fast, maybe you can hit redline in 7th and not be doing 100mph. Wish I knew for sure.


#3. EGR valves.

This stands for Exhaust Gas Recirculation.

It can contribute to carbon because it recycles a certain amount.

We know that higher temps keep the carbon from depositing. How does it makes sense that cooler temps are better for an EGR?

Nope. I don't believe it. Born at night, not last night. Yes, hard driving will increase the amount of carbon going through the system, easy driving lets it deposit. The problem is with the depositing of carbon not the existance of it.

As far as not having the EGR. Hell yeah..that's a good thing. Didn't know they did that in the EU. Should do it here.

#4. Doing this causes wear.

It does. However as long as you do your maintenance the amount of wear is nominal. The key is to do your maintenance and if you drive hard...do it more often. Especially as the engine ages. As long as the oil is clean, the coolant is good, spark plugs fire hot, good serpetine belt, plenty of airflow/clean filter...using the entier rev band regularly doesn't hurt anything.

Pay attention to the last paragraph in the article I posted above:
One final nail in the coffin in the overall theory of hard driving as a substitute for proper engine maintenance
Hard driving is NOT a substitute for proper maintenance. It is reason to do the maintence.


(As far as having port injection in the Quad in Europe but not the US. That's messed up. Is it like that with the Guilia Quad? My first guess would be Alfa had a bunch of DI only engines left over due to not hitting sales forecasts at launch and wanted to sell them instead of throwing them away. Total guess though.)
 

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You can easily use the entire rev range on a quad in the lower gears. If you don't, im not sure what the $ was spent for.
These aren't sportbikes where first gear is good for 50+ mph ....
 

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AlfaOffroad, are you a professional auto columnist, damn! I am worried about carbon buildup in my 19 qued due to a couple folks recently having issues. But i plan to consult with AlfaOffroad. Hope you are still here to help when/if that time comes ...
 

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There is no 100% conclusion in most things sadly....

Ok..so...as much as I love Engineering Explained, reality is some of the conclusions they reach are not fully fleshed out. I posted the article only to discuss the temp portion. The overall conclusion reached is dubious IMO.

Going to go deep now...

#1: Why do they say running the engine hotter, or using an "Italian tune up", isn't a solution?

Because one study was found where running a direct injection engine hotter caused more issues not less. The reason I linked to the article instead of the video, is the article includes links to the studies discussed so the reader can do thier own research as opposed to just listening to another person's conclusions, which is important, particularly with this study.

The study that found increased carbon build-up when a 2.0 turbo GDI Engine was run hot, is not fully applicable to most driving styles or even most direct injection engines. Why not?

The study was skewed to create carbon build-up. Did not use "real world" methodology at all, and particularly egregiously they used a VERY worn engine.

Link to study: Formation of Intake Valve Deposits in Gasoline Direct Injection Engines Click on it and then select the preview option if you don't want to buy the entier thing. Go to the second preview page where they start to explain the methods used.

The engine used was a 2008 GM EcoTec engine with 800,000km (almost 500,000mi) on the odometer. Several issues here,

1 - this is basically a first gen DI and very primitive. The combustion chamber is an "optimized" port injection chamber, not one designed for DI. Basically the engineers moved the valve placment, they did not redesign the chamber. This is less efficent, runs cooler and contributes to less complete combustion. All of which contributes to increased carbon build-up over a more efficent combustion chamber design. (Which the Stelvio 2.0 and 2.9 have)

2 - the Variable Valve System is designed for Port injection not specifically designed for DI. Again..this is a known issue and why now everyone uses a more advanced variable valvetrain.

3 - it has a compression ratio of 9.2,1 vs the 2.0 Stelvio's 10,0 it is very close to the 2.9's 9.3,1 ratio though. Regardless, Higher ratios run hotter, offer more complete combustion..less carbon.

4- the miles alone are a concern and make it not as applicable to new engines. Almost 500k on the engine before it is used for carbon testing? The wear on that engine causes inefficiencies. An engine with 500,000 miles on it does not run like one with 2000 miles..does not burn gas as efficently...probably burns oil. Which contributes to carbon biuld-up..and it gets worse the harder the engine is run. This is especially important considering the study was a "flush and run" meaning nothing was done besides giving it gas and oil. No mechanical maintenance.

Which leads us to the next problem with the methodology of this study.

They didn't use off-the-shelf oil. The researcher created a specific oil formula using increased additives specifically to cause more carbon build-up.

Then...they performed thier tests under high load-high temp conditions but made the cycles short for easy repeatability.

In other words the engine was not warmed up first and not really even ran till it got fully warmed up. This creates a situation where there is high heat at the point of combustion but the valves are not hot. As such they biuld-up more carbon...which is part of why you should wait to hit even 3/4 redline till the engine is fully up to temp.

While this is a solid study that produced alot of info about how carbon build-up happens, it is really not applicable in terms of using the findings to say high heat causes worse carbon build-up. It is applicable in saying high heat in an old engine that hasn't been warmed up and is filled with oil containing too many additives causes carbon build-up.

It should also be said given all the design variations causing that engine to run cooler than newer DI engines like in the Stelvio, even when it is run hot..the Stelvio is running hotter, and since the decorboxilzation that removes carbon build-up only happens at the top end of even an Alfa engine's operating range, it is entirely possible the GM engine never even reaches optimal temp when run hot. Doesnt mean other engine's don't. Does mean the finding are not widely applicable.

Why didn't EE explain any of this? Who knows. My guess would be they found the study based on the title and then read the Abstract and Conclusion without looking at the methodology used to achieve them.


#2. The valves won't get hot enough to matter.

Well that study pointed to in the article/video found that. Again though, look at the methodology.

That study was done on a port injection engine. Not DI. The temperature's discussed do not apply to DI which places the valve closer and doesn't wash it with gas, which also means it doesn't cool the valves some during every cycle. Instead the heat just builds on the metal valve body. Metal conducts heat very well. Is the side facing away for combustion cooler than the front side? Of course. 100degrees cooler? No. Probably more like 20.

Somehow in a discussion on carbon build-up in DI engines, when the conversation turns to the valvetrain they begin talking about port injection..why? I really don't know.



Regardless the temps reached by a Port Injected engine is not the same as the temps reached by Direct Injection. DI runs hotter.

Since heat is what we need does that mean DI engines get the valve hot enough?

I can't find specific research on that, however anecdotal evidence says yes. Not ALL DI engines have carbon problems. Many do, maybe most. Realize...most people also drive very slow and never give thier engines a work out. People who do work thier engines..overwhelmingly have less issues.

For instance, the Jetta I got rid of to get the Stelvio didnt have excessive build-up at 50k, and my nephew's VW Passat has 80k on it with no excessive build up.

However, please understand I dont believe this is because of doing an "italian tune-up" every once and a while then otherwise driving like a snail. It's from almost always being the first person to pull away from a stop light, almost always hitting cruising speed on any road faster than the cars around, downshifting and holding high RPM through twisty roads, and generally driving like we have somewhere to go when in the car.

I am not talking about an italian tune up once a day.

I am talking about using the entier rev band, pretty much every time the car is started and driven long enough to warm up fully.

Which, given the power in the Quad is alot harder to do for ya'll then it is for me. I can hit redline 4 times just pulling out of a parking lot and merging into traffic....and I do..regularly. So much fun. How that could be done in a quad...honestly no idea. That car is crazy fast. Maybe an owner who understands the power delivery at different speeds and gear ratios can suggest something. My first thought would be to use higher gears at lower speeds. In other words start in 2nd and upshift fast, maybe you can hit redline in 7th and not be doing 100mph. Wish I knew for sure.


#3. EGR valves.

This stands for Exhaust Gas Recirculation.

It can contribute to carbon because it recycles a certain amount.

We know that higher temps keep the carbon from depositing. How does it makes sense that cooler temps are better for an EGR?

Nope. I don't believe it. Born at night, not last night. Yes, hard driving will increase the amount of carbon going through the system, easy driving lets it deposit. The problem is with the depositing of carbon not the existance of it.

As far as not having the EGR. Hell yeah..that's a good thing. Didn't know they did that in the EU. Should do it here.

#4. Doing this causes wear.

It does. However as long as you do your maintenance the amount of wear is nominal. The key is to do your maintenance and if you drive hard...do it more often. Especially as the engine ages. As long as the oil is clean, the coolant is good, spark plugs fire hot, good serpetine belt, plenty of airflow/clean filter...using the entier rev band regularly doesn't hurt anything.

Pay attention to the last paragraph in the article I posted above:

Hard driving is NOT a substitute for proper maintenance. It is reason to do the maintence.


(As far as having port injection in the Quad in Europe but not the US. That's messed up. Is it like that with the Guilia Quad? My first guess would be Alfa had a bunch of DI only engines left over due to not hitting sales forecasts at launch and wanted to sell them instead of throwing them away. Total guess though.)
Great recap and agree with many of your points. IMHO I don’t see carbon buildup being an issue for a while on the QVs, have to defer to the folks with more experience on the 2L motor. Do know @chymerix on the giulia forum had his intake walnut blasted at around 6000 miles at Alfa’s direction (cold start misfires with CELs many of us MY 19 QV folks are experiencing). The Alfa engineer who scoped his engine said it looked like it had a lot of carbon buildup but honestly wonder how many intakes he’s scoped. Might just be normal. Anyway he drives like I do, complete rpm range on low gears so who knows.
 

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I've seen the thread, but haven't studied it.

Does he wait for the engine to completely warm up? That is not a small thing... and it can take almost a half hour of driving depending on the climate/outside temperature. Running to redline before full warm up is a bad idea.

Beyond that are short trips. Lots of short trips are really bad...drive hard on short trips it gets worse. This is not a one-size fits all solution. You have to look at the variables.

As much as driving hard can help...you have to factor in all the known variables, and if you are making a short trip, or a series of short trips, driving hard during them, is probably a bad idea. Hitting redline then cruising at 45mph and stopping for a couple minutes every few minutes (stop lights, city streets) is not the same as hitting redline then cruising at 65mph without stopping for 15 minutes (freeway driving)in terms of internal engine temps. Higher temps for longer periods in the second case, which is what you want.

If you think of a trip to a store 5 miles away, then another store 4 miles, then another stop a couples from that, then back home. Stop lights every couple blocks the whole way. The only part of that drive where the engine should be worked - maybe - is the trip home.

Not saying a quad isnt a good grocery getter, saying after getting the groceries...maybe take a little detour someplace you can streach the engine's legs a bit before heading home.

You know...cause long term reliability.... not cause it's fun....being responsible. Yeah.

Talking about variables, realize for me, most trips require driving 50+ miles and don't involve many stoplights since it's all highway. Even the grocery store is ten miles...with 0 stop lights, one stop sign. (And a street with a 45mph limit and a 90 degree bend in the road....I love that road so much...)

So when I say I goose the engine getting up to speed from a parking lot....my engine was fully warmed up when parked, and didn't sit long enough to cool much - if it did I drive conservatively till warmed up.
 

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I had a 2010 Mazdaspeed 3, 2.3L DGI. That early DI motor was a real runner in a 3200 lb car at 260hp, 280 torque except running out of breath using a simple, small primitive K03 turbo. Carbon build up was a common known issue in the MZR DIGI motor. Installing an oil catch can a very common tuner upgrade. If you were running 3rd or 4th gear on the highway, let off the throttle and then gave it full gas, the cloud of smoke was unbelievable...and normal. Used to do that to tailgaters. Big carbon buildup on exhaust tips. DI motors have advanced a lot since those early engines (the Mazda/Ford DI MZR engine first sold in 2006).

Thanks for the justification on driving my 2.0 hard, am saving your post as my excuse when the New Jersey state patrol pulls me over. By the way, I have to believe that NJ has the highest average highway speeds in the US, seriously. So send your 2.0 or 2.9 over here and I’ll give it a hard run🍀
 
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ALFAOFFROAD , thanks a lot for this detailed explanation. :) In Europe, for the 2.0 engine, first they had EGR, than they added GPF and last, they removed the EGR and the GPF is left in order to cover the Euro6d eco certificate.This info is from giuliaforums.com and I think is true.
 

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Sorry.This is the exact quote from Giulia forum, about the EGR and GPF. I don't know about the NA models, though:
So in EU there seem to be 3 different versions of the 2.0TB 280hp?
(Actual hp according to Squadra-Tuning)

1. Euro 6B - EGR, no GPF (300-310hp)
2. Euro 6B - no EGR, no GPF (280-290hp)
3. Euro 6D - no EGR, GPF, no resonator (290-300hp)
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Apparently the situation is different in EU and US, the Quad had the double injection (direct & port) since 2018 in Europe
 
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