1.4 MultiAir TB 135bhp Veloce
nothing new under the Sun,
or so they say. Take downsizing
squeezing basically the same
components into a smaller body.
Not Alfa Romeo. Theyve
to the heart of the matter and reduced
under the bonnet while
increasing its performance. Now
COOL AND CURVY, the MiTo's exterior sparkles with tantalising
hints of the gorgeous Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione supercar, most noticeably around
the nose with its protruding grille and clear lens teardrop headlights. We don't
really need to say any more, do we? Which in itself says a great deal about
how celebrated the smart-looking MiTo has become.
Grasp the lovely chrome door handle to pull open one of the sporty three-door
hatch's long doors and you'll find a cabin that majors on charm, backed up by
a variety of racy trim materials assembled with visibly good fit and finish.
And the result is a pronounced up-market look.
Although classed as 'compact', the MiTo manages to fit a surprising amount into
its four-metre length. For a start, your rear seat passengers don't have to
be best friends because, although you might not be expecting it, there's actually
good shoulder, leg and foot room for those travelling in the back. As long as
they're under six foot. Access to the two rear seats is easy with tilt-and-slide
front seats that return faultlessly to their original positions. For those travelling
in the back, the view out is fine. As, too, is the ride.
Front seats, upholstered in a smart textured cloth, are supportive. While not
excessively bolstered, they seem to wrap themselves around you. Once belted-up
you can savour the tactile cabin fitments, from the sensibly large, no-nonsense
audio buttons to the Competizione dashboard a curvaceous, moulded carbon-fibre-look
fascia top that flows over the hooded white-on-black dials and four prominent,
round air-vents like silky-satin lava and which can he specified in black, red
or blue. Every time you climb aboard you'll find yourself wanting to run your
fingertips over it.
The driving position is spot-on, with good visibility both to the front and
side; although the low-slung seating and smaller rear side windows make the
optional reversing sensors (£220) a sensible buy.
it's the low-set driving position that adds considerably to the MiTo's undeniably
sporty character by making the pilot feel an integral part of the machine
Iron Man but without the 'rocketeer' bit.
considerably to the
MiTos undeniably sporty
character by making
the pilot feel an integral
part of the machine...
Smooth manual seat adjustability, lumbar adjustment, welcome under-knee support
and decent reach and rake adjustment of the delightfully grippy leather, three-spoke
wheel guarantees drivers will end up 'sitting pretty'.
The MiTo's cabin really is THE place to get comfortable and relax in
made more reassuring by a five-star EuroNCAP safety rating underscored not just
by passenger and front-side airbags but also by the extra airbag for the driver's
Check out the boot the tailgate opens high for unrestricted access to
the 270 litres of luggage space. Flip forward the rear seat base to rest against
the front seatbacks and drop down the rear seat backrest and you can transform
the boot into a flat load bay. Look under the boot floor and you'll find a fifth
wheel; a space saver spare, and far more useful than one of those 'tyre repair
kits' that are invading boots everywhere.
Veloce models come with decent levels of standard equipment including air conditioning,
a full complement of seven airbags, Alfa Romeo DNA, one-touch electric windows,
multi-function display and trip computer, power-adjustable and heated door mirrors,
6-speaker radio/CD with MP3 player, Competizione dash, Alfa branded chrome kick
plates, tailored mats, sport dials with white illumination, Blue&Me (Bluetooth
hands-free system with voice recognition and media player with USB support),
leather-wrapped steering wheel with remote audio controls, 17-inch alloys, red-painted
brake callipers, LED rear lights and a rear spoiler with a diffuser-style rear
Safety equipment, both passive and active, is comprehensive; starting with a
built-in Fire Prevention System, Vehicle Dynamic Control (ABS + Anti-Slip Regulation
+ EBD + Brake Assist) with Hill Holder, driver, passenger, front-side, window
and driver's knee airbags and, in case you need to use a child seat, deactivation
(via the control panel menu) of the front passenger side airbag. There's also
Electronic Q2 in effect an electronic limited slip differential that
improves the transfer of drive torque to the wheels and cornering behaviour.
should also be considered a safety feature because it enables drivers to use
a mobile 'phone or listen to music from an MP3 player or USB stick without needing
to take their hands off the wheel.
Even when worked hard
it remains refined
and the power is
eminently usable with
always on tap...
The MiTo's voice control system is fully integrated with keys on the steering
wheel and information on the instrument panel display so your Bluetooth mobile
can be left in your coat pocket whenever you're in the car, with incoming texts
Connecting a digital system to the USB port on the centre tunnel lets you listen
to hours of digital music in MP3, WMA and WAV format that's been recorded on
mobile phones, MP3 players or USB pen drives. Naturally, there's also excellent
compatibility with iPods.
of this we've pretty much covered in previous MiTo reviews and it's the new
MultiAir system that is the real headline news. In the history of the world
well, okay, motoring engine efficiency has never been more crucial.
Soon it will be illegal to leave home without it as cleaner, greener cars become
not only vital but compulsory.
Technophobes can breathe a sigh of relief because the end results of the cutting-edge
MultiAir technology are of far greater interest to MiTo customers than the mystifying
manner of its working. Suffice to say, then, that MultiAir is engine-downsizing
at its most intelligent yet. Installed in the MiTo, the 135bhp 1.4-litre MultiAir
engine serves up strong low- and mid-range torque and eager top-end power combined
with good economy and low emissions.
Comparing the 135bhp 1.4 MultiAir to the 120bhp 1.4 non-MultiAir engine is the
best way to get some idea of just how beneficial MultiAir is the MultiAir
engine boasts CO2 reduced by over 10%; fuel consumption reduced by up to 10%;
maximum power increased by 12.5%; 0-62mph acceleration reduced by 0.4 seconds;
and better throttle response and less turbo lag. Now that's downsizing keen
drivers can live with!
The Euro 5-ready, turbocharged 135bhp MultiAir powerplant gets the MiTo off
the line to 62mph in 8.4 seconds and on to a top speed of 129mph and
all while emitting a lowly 129g/km of CO2. For a small capacity petrol engine,
the 1,368cc MultiAir produces a strong fist of torque from low down in the rev-range:
even the least powerful 135bhp unit punches above its weight torque-wise with
152lb ft at 1,750rpm.
by Alfa's Start&Stop technology, it will return as much as 50.4mpg on the combined
cycle during our enthusiastic, week-long test drive we recorded a real-life
average fuel consumption of 43.8mpg. Officially it will also do 38.2 in town
and 62.8mpg on the extra-urban cycle. And even if it didn't, you'd forgive it
in a flash because it's such brilliant fun to drive.
the DNA switch
to Normal and you get
not Sex but
Agility In The City...
yet is the four-cylinder, 1.4-litre MultiAir's character: if you work it hard
it still remains refined and the power is eminently usable, with eager torque
always on tap.
You might suppose that a powerful small-capacity engine such as this would be
highly-strung in which case you'd suppose wrong, because not only is
it happy when loping along at motorway speeds but it exhibits no signs whatsoever
of being temperamental when snared in stop-start city traffic or commuter crawls.
the record, all new MiTos now have the emission-reducing Start&Stop system.
This works fluently and largely unnoticed in the background to save wear and
tear on the car and driver as well as maximising fuel consumption. When the
Mito's stopped and idling in neutral, it cuts the engine; when it's time to
pull away and the clutch is depressed, it restarts it automatically. Linked
to Start&Stop is a gear shift indicator that suggests when to change gear (up
or down) in Normal and All weather DNA modes it's subtle and you can
ignore it if you prefer. And being Italian, it knows better than to distract
you when you're in Dynamic mode!
Talking of Alfa's DNA, if you're fresh to the MiTo and its 'dna' then really
all you need to know is that it gives the driver the option of switching between
three 'handling personalities' Dynamic, Normal and All weather
to best suit road characteristics, weather conditions or driving style. It's
operated easily on the fly and at any speed by a stylishly-engineered three-way
switch sited just ahead of the gear lever.
the switch instantly alters the throttle response and steering assistance. Select
Normal and you get not Sex but Agility In The City!
The steering is quick
with crisp turn-in;
corners are taken
with cool assurance...
Shift to Dynamic and you will, thanks to a quicker throttle response, sharper
steering and more direct handling (with less intrusion from Alfa's version of
Electronic Stability Program, the Vehicle Dynamic Control), enjoy a noticeably
sportier driving experience. All weather mode 'gentles' the MiTo's responses
and increases the sensitivity of the electronic driving aids; the better to
tackle low-grip conditions and minimise the danger of skidding in adverse conditions.
No prizes for guessing in which mode we did most of out test driving... and
no apologies either!
Subtle modifications to the latest MiTo's steering, suspension and braking systems
have ensured it's now even sharper to drive, with minimal bodyroll and improved
stability. It's also easier to hold your line while riding out unsettling lumps
and bumps. The steering is quick with crisp turn-in; corners are taken with
cool assurance. Brakes discs all round and vented at the front
are reassuringly strong.
And whether you're only going to the local supermarket or indulging yourself
with an intensive driver-focussed jolly in the Scottish highlands, the MiTo
is a thoroughly involving and entertaining driver's car. If longer journeys
are on the agenda, the MiTo's ride comfort will make sure you reach your destination
in fine fettle.
Brimming with brio, the MiTo sits comfortably at the fashionable end of the
small car market. A global success story, from the moment it was launched it
had a USP all of its own and now has another ace up its sleeve: MultiAir. It
could be the killer app that gives the charismatic and sporty Italian the winning
hand in the battle to occupy the top slot in the compact car division.
Alfa MiTo 1.4 MultiAir TB 135bhp Veloce | £16,135
Maximum speed: 129mph | 0-62mph: 8.4 seconds | Overall test MPG: 43.8mpg
Power: 135bhp | Torque: 152lb ft | CO2 129g/km