Alfa Tradition and Hard-Edged Modernity meet in MiTo
What You Get
The Alfa MiTo takes its catchy name from the cities of Milan (Milano) and Turin (Torino) both of which are important in the marque’s heritage. This sporty compact hatchback is a descendant of the legendary Alfasud Ti and will appeal not only to traditional enthusiasts of the marque but also to new customers. Five-star safety and a raft of innovative features including hill holder and DNA (the choice between Dynamic, Normal and All Weather modes for steering and throttle response) mark the MiTo as an impressively credentialed compact car.
Prices start at $31,490.
Under The Hood
New turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol engines are used in the MiTo. The standard MiTo has 88 kW of power and 204 Nm of torque and sprints from rest to 100 km/h in 8.8 seconds, while the Sport model boasts 114 kW of power, 230 Nm of torque and a zero to 100 km/h split of eight seconds flat. The Sport also gets a six-speed manual instead of a five-speeder. The MiTo averages 6.1 litres per 100 km and the Sport 6.5, both of which figures are impressive for such lively cars. At this stage there is no automatic transmission on offer, which reminds one of Alfa tradition in the 1980s.
You sit quite low in the MiTo in very comfortable and well shaped seats, facing a high-set cowl. The Sport adds partial leather trim and an attractive cloth material on the dashboard which looks like carbon fibre but is actually fabric. This stylish interior has a lovely traditional Alfa Romeo appeal but, unlike in so many Alfas of old, there is no need to compromise behind the wheel and there is plenty of room for drivers of all sizes. But the Sport variant feels more upmarket.
Exterior & Styling
From the assertive shield that clearly identifies the MiTo as an Alfa Romeo to the trademark alloys and short rear overhang, the MiTo has a style of its own. Especially from in front it looks like a much more expensive car and there is a strong family resemblance between this compact hatch and the upmarket Alfa 8C Competizione.
On The Road
First impressions are of lively performance, especially in the Sport version, and nicely weighted steering which relays excellent road feel and is highly responsive.
The Sport has impressive mid-range torque and is reminiscent of many older Alfas such as the 105-series 2.0-litre models of the 1970s. It is eminently drivable. Ride comfort is mostly good but over broken or choppy surfaces there is some harshness. As is usually the case with powerful front-wheel drive cars, torque steer intrudes under hard acceleration in the lower gears but not to a disturbing degree. The brakes are outstanding and, in the case of the Sport, with its smart red Brembo calipers they even look the part.
Sporty though it is, the MiTo occupies a market niche where style and features will arguably outweigh driving dynamics. So perhaps the suspension settings are rather too firm for the target market. But keen drivers will love it.
Alfa Romeo has a proud tradition of creating sporty, stylish and charismatic models and the MiTo is a worthy addition to the range. The Sport model at $37,490 makes a stronger value proposition with its significant extra urge, one more gear ratio, richer trim, additional features such as Blue&Me Bluetooth telematics and, yes, those red Brembo calipers beneath 17-inch alloys (16s on the MiTo).
It is no secret that the MiTo is aimed squarely at the MINI. If you think of the standard car as a rival for the Cooper with the Sport edging into Cooper S territory, you have the picture. A distinctive blend of style and performance is at the heart of this market niche. On style both the ageing Volkswagen New Beetle and the Fiat 500 in its premium versions may be seen as alternatives but neither offers comparable performance. So this looks like a contest between the MiTo and the MINI.
Lots of Italian style, strong performance with exceptional economy, nice detail touches such as traditional Alfa emblem which doubles as a pushbutton for the boot.
Ride too choppy on broken surfaces, value proposition of standard MiTo less compelling than lavishly specified Sport variant.