Ju­nior Alfa born again

Alfa’s suave su­per-mini has a sporty look, writes MICHAEL TAY­LOR in Italy

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige News -

RE­MEM­BER the Al­fa­sud? Then you’ll cheer the ar­rival of the Mi.To from Alfa Romeo. The car is all new and, though ex­pected to be called Ju­nior, it bears the Mi.To badge.

The name is a con­trac­tion of Mi­lan and Torino, the Ital­ian cities in which the car was de­signed and will be built.

The Mi-To is a new-age su­per­mini, a lot like the born-again Fiat 500 and Mini, and will spring­board Alfa back into the United States.

Sit­ting be­low the cur­rent 147 five­door, it will be launched in Europe in late June, though Aus­tralian buy­ers will have to wait un­til early next year. Right-hand-drive pro­duc­tion will not start un­til late this year.

The ad­vent of the Mi.To sug­gests fu­ture Alfas will move away from the ag­gres­sive over­hang­ing eye­brow style of the 159 to re­flect the swoop­ing, curv­ing char­ac­ter of the 8C Com­pe­tizione.

It will ar­rive with a range of four­cylin­der en­gines, petrol and tur­bod­iesel.

A petrol turbo ver­sion is closely re­lated to the Fiat Grande Punto’s Abarth mo­tor.

The rorty-sound­ing en­gine has been re­tuned with Alfa parts and an Alfa ex­haust and ex­haust note.

In­sid­ers also hint at a Mi.To GTA with a 1.8-litre turbo and even a 2.0-litre ver­sion.

The Mi.To owes its life to Fiat’s Grande Punto, which con­tin­ues to set sales records in Europe and helped Fiat back to prof­itabil­ity.

That means the car will sit on a 2510mm wheel­base— long for a car of this size — which prom­ises com­fort­able rear seat­ing in a com­pact 4060mm body.

It is 30mm longer than the Grande Punto and 50mm lower, largely to give it a sportier stance. It is only 1440mm high and 1720mm wide.

Mi.To en­gi­neers had to heav­ily mod­ify the chas­sis of the more cost­fo­cused Grande Punto to ac­cept the Alfa’s sportier role.

Be­sides chang­ing much of its core en­gi­neer­ing, Alfa has fit­ted a three­mode elec­tronic sys­tem to gov­ern the en­gine, brakes, steer­ing, sus­pen­sion and gear­box. Called Alfa DNA, the sys­tem al­lows driv­ers to choose be­tween dy­namic and nor­mal. Alfa has added a mode for low-grip con­di­tions.

The sus­pen­sion will still be based on the lim­ited sport­ing ca­pac­ity of the Grande Punto’s cheap tor­sion­bar rear axle, but Alfa in­sists it will be im­proved by a roll-re­duc­tion sys­tem and the latest elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol sys­tem.

It will head a line-up in­clud­ing the re­place­ment for the 147, which is on track to ar­rive in the mid­dle of next year with a five-door hatch as the only body.

Though it will be sig­nif­i­cantly larger than the Mi.To and will con­tinue its styling themes, it will still be based off the same un­der­body. This means that, for Alfa to fill all bases, the Mi.To will spawn a five-door hatch, sedan, wagon and even a con­vert­ible.

Swoops and curves: the Alfa Romeo Mi.To will give Amer­i­cans a new touch of Ital­ian class and come to Aus­tralia early next year.

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