Pocket-sized Alfa de­liv­ers style and eco­nomic driv­ing

Yorkshire Post - Motoring - - ROAD TEST - ALFA ROMEO MITO 875CC TWIN AIR

Keith Ward BILLED on its launch as the clean­est and most eco­nom­i­cal car in its class, this ver­sion of the lit­tle Alfa MiTo prom­ises pocket-friendly mo­tor­ing.

Into the bar­gain, it looks ap­peal­ingly neat and stylish – best in red cheek­ily com­pared to its Fiat Group sta­ble­mate Fer­rari – with the front num­ber plate worn jaun­tily, Alfa-style, to one side of that iconic Mi­lanese bon­net badge.

The Ital­ians have al­ways been strong on en­gine tech­nol­ogy, and the MiTo here ben­e­fits from the re­mark­able and award-win­ning 875cc two-cylin­der unit in­tro­duced in Fiat’s Panda, 500 and Punto. Tur­bocharg­ing helps boost power to 85 bhp, while CO2 emis­sions at 98 g/km duck un­der both the an­nual tax disc and con­ges­tion charge thresh­olds.

On the road, the en­gine is smooth in de­liv­ery and spir­ited in na­ture, if sound­ing at times a bit like the neigh­bour’s lawn­mower on a Sun­day morn­ing. Per­for­mance po­ten­tial is not bad, but to achieve it re­quires Ital­ianesque foot-down driv­ing, no doubt re­spon­si­ble for our sub­50mpg av­er­age against an of­fi­cial com­bined rat­ing of near-70. Stop­start when sta­tion­ary is stan­dard.

The Twin Air can, not sur­pris­ingly, run out of breath when climb­ing, so re­quir­ing much stir­ring of the easy six-speed gear­box. On the level it will bowl will­ingly along at 70mph in top while pulling 3,000 rpm and it is mainly tyre noise you no­tice, from the up­graded 17in Pirellis in­cluded here.

Stan­dard on all Twin Air ver­sions of the MiTo are cruise con­trol and a three-set­ting switch for en­gine re­sponse – nor­mal, sport­ing and low-grip – with a dif­fer­ence in torque of around 30 per cent, which will also in­flu­ence your fuel econ­omy fig­ures.

At £15,350, the Dis­tinc­tive also gets cos­met­ics such as sports di­als and ped­als, spe­cial up­hol­stery, alu­minium kick­plates, red brake cal­lipers and chrome ex­ter­nal bits as well as com­forts like lum­bar ad­just­ment and rear park­ing sen­sors.

They add to the ba­sic £14,150 Sprint ver­sion’s man­ual cli­mate con­trol, seven airbags and Blue­tooth hands-free with voice recog­ni­tion.

The MiTo cabin of­fers just about enough legroom for four adults. To ex­tend the short but deep boot the one-piece rear seat back­rest re­leases rather awk­wardly with a catch at each end and tilts for­ward only to about 45 de­grees, so re­duc­ing the nor­mal hatch­back ben­e­fit.

The full 15-strong MiTo range spans £12,500 to £18,765.

A re­cent Which? con­sumer sur­vey of car own­ers rated the MiTo highly for driv­ing en­joy­ment and styling, low on re­li­a­bil­ity.

Alfa counter the lat­ter to an ex­tent by stretch­ing their full break­down cover, Europe-wide, to three years in­stead of the in­dus­try nor­mal of 12 months. Noth­ing went wrong dur­ing our week’s driv­ing.

SMALL WON­DER: The Alfa Romeo Mito with its re­mark­able two-cylin­der en­gine.

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