First drive: new Alfa Romeo MiTo

29 October, 2013 | by Paul Horrell

The Alfa MiTo is one of the most intriguing superminis. It looks interesting. It has a fair bit of flair in its cabin. The petrol engines are really striking, with clever technology imparting tax-beating CO2 and a fair bit of driving fizz.

But the MiTo still gets forgotten against things like the Citroen DS3 and Mini. Maybe it’s the generally low profile Alfa has had these past few years – one of the tiniest ranges of cars of any manufacturer. Maybe the 4C will help remind people Alfa does still exist.

Anyway, the MiTO has just had a tiny facelift. It has also now has another option in
the line of enigmatic engines.

This time it’s another version of the tiny 875cc TwinAir, making some 78kW, which means adaquate performance in a supermini that squeezes under 100g/km. Stick the DNA switch into ‘dynamic’ to get the full beans, but pull it back to ‘normal’ to reduce the boost, and help get better economy. Even so, you won’t make the official 3.5Km/l because it’s too tempting to over-drive it.

The usual endearing TwinAir chugga-chugga noises emanate from the bonnet, and the usual wide torque spread makes it an easy engine to get along with once you’ve got used to two strange quirks. Firstly you need to be handy with the clutch and throttle when launching from rest to avoid an annoying cough. Second, it’s so happy to rev that it’s too easy to bump the very strict 6000rpm rev limiter.

The light nose weight of the two-cylinder car makes it glide more smoothly over potholes than early MiTos did. Even so a badly heaving road – like the ones we call B-roads in Britain – will sometimes catch it on the hop. The steering too is nicer on this one than on the originals, with better self-centring and good feel, if a bit of rubber somewhere in the system.

All in it’s a playful little car to throw around.

There’s a new optional dashboard moulding that fades from black on top to red in the vertical section. All a bit teenage bedroom. But the standard interior has had some nice material upgrades, and better seats. It’s better than the mass-market norm. There’s also a new neatly integrated centre-dash media/TomTom screen.

Standard procedure Alfa review then: not the most rational car in the segment, but a likeable one.

     

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