Three years ago, I was lucky enough to be invited to Scotland, for The Alfa Romeo MiTO launch, where I drove two models of the 17 launched, the Cloverleaf & a diesel Lusso. I enjoyed both & saw for the first time where Alfa were heading, as they strive to build not just attractive cars , but practical & reliable ones too.
Move forwards 3 years & all of the MiTo models have been renamed, with the range now streamlined to 9 models. The entry level model is now the Progression, above this is the Sprint which replaces the old Lusso & Turismo trims, the Veloce has become the Distinctive & finally what was the Clover Leaf is now called the Quadrofoglio Verde.
Prices too have been reduced, with the entry level 1.4 8v Progression starting at just £12250 OTR, rising to £17955 for the 1.4 TB MultiAir 170 Quadrifoglio Verde, my test car. Three new engines are also available. A 1.4 8v 78 bhp, available in Progression & Sprint, which replaces the existing 1.4 wit lower emissions, superior MPG & Start&Stop as standard. A 1.4 MultiAir 105bhp, available with Sprint & Distinctive models & the new congestion charge/tax busting 1.3 JTDm-2 in Sprint only, which produces 85 bhp & just 95g/km of CO2.
The Quadrifiglio Verde model I tested, probably isn’t the model that an SME fleet manager would encourage their drivers to have. That would be the 1.3 JTDm-2 Sprint which emits just 95g/km CO2. Nonetheless, it gave me a great chance to see where the MiTo has been improved from the launch model of 2009.
If a Mini is popular with customers because it’s cute & looks good, then the MiTo should be more popular than a Mini, as it is prettier & cuter & is an easy car to fall for. Gone too are the 1970’s problems with Alfas build quality & reliability, as this is one well put together machine.
It doesn’t just look good, it drives well too & Alfa have noticeably improved both the bumpy ride & the road noise of the launch MiTo. The 170 bhp engine was joy to drive, particularly when engaging Alfas DNA, to Dynamic. By pushing a small switch next to the gear stick, one can engage All weather, Normal or Dynamic to literally suit your mood or the outside driving conditions. Dynamic is the fast one & spent the majority of my week selecting this as from start up the engine automatically selects the Normal setting. With a 0 – 62 mph time of 7.5 seconds & a top speed of 136 mph, the Quadrifoglio Verde was great to drive. I averaged only 28 MPG in my week in this model, a lot less than the claimed 47.1 MPG for the combined. I can only assume that when tested, it was never driven in Dynamic mode to attain this figure !
Start Stop is also now standard across all MiTo’s & this works well but does need a firm press of the clutch to reengage. The dash is familiar in its lay out, mirroring closely that of the larger Giulietta. The Blue&Me Bluetooth system for mobile phones & the media player was easy to set up & to use & this is a standard feature on all MiTo’s bar the entry level Progression model. My test car didn’t have Sat Nav though, which costs an additional £900.
My passengers found the rear seat space ample & it was easy to get in & out of the back as the front seats lift easily to allow access to the back. It also has a useful sized boot, which easily took my weekly shopping as well as the kids school bags & stuff. Throw in some nice design touches such as the satin effect wing mirrors & all in all the MiTo is a car worth getting to know.
When, sadly the guy came to take the MiTo back, he asked me what I thought of it. It reminds me of driving the Peugeot 205 GTi from over 20 years ago came my reply, which if you ever drove the 205 GTi, I promise is high praise indeed.
Overall, whilst not the most practical car for a family, the MiTo would suit any company driver who wants something that’s fun to drive, looks good, stands out from the crowd & offers an awful lot for your money. When the 5 door model is launched it could even become practical too !