Rigval Reza 9 years ago 0

Alfa Romeo Mito 1.4 Multiair Review - La Bella Figura

Remind me later
The latest but sadly not the greatest supermini I recently had a chance to drive is the Alfa Romeo Mito 1.4 Multiair Turbo. It is a premium 3 door supermini based on the Fiat Punto Grande and was designed to compete with the BMW Mini, the recently launched Audi A1 and to some extent the Fiat 500 Abarth. The car looks stunning as the styling is derived from the gorgeous Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione. It has retro touches here and there but it does not remind me of anything from the 1950s or 1960s. It is a successful supermini design in my books. Unfortunately the car I drove had a dull gold-yellow color and a stained black interior. Maybe that's why it was made the official test car. No one who wants a Mito would buy it in the color scheme that was used on the test car. And still it looks good. The reason I wanted to drive this car was because I was actually thinking of getting a new car within the next year or so and this was a car within the budget I had (considering the really ridiculous prices that we Malaysians have to suffer for anything imported). Red is still the color to get as you can see from the press picture below. According to the spec sheet the car has the 1.4-litre turbo charged 4 cylinder with 155ps and 230Nm of torque driving through a 6 speed manual gearbox (the version I drove may differ from what is offered in Europe), giving a power to weight ratio of about 130ps per ton. Which is about right for a decently fast B-road car. An Alfa Romeo Q2 based electronic limited slip differential is there to help out this little front wheel drive car in corners and on acceleration. This makes it a pretty good hot hatch on paper. Right, on paper that is. A simple device called a key is used to turn the engine on. No start button or keyless press-in fob but your basic key. Which is somehow a good thing (or a bad thing if you like those keyless-Go features). I like its simplicity as when you've been using keys for the past twenty or so years of motoring, it seems natural. You adjust the seat and steering, which only adjusts for height but not reach, and then find out that it is does not have the famed Italian mountain gorilla-like long armed short legs driving position like in most Alfas of old.  There will be ample headroom for six footers and everything seems to be ergonomically sound. Maybe if you wanted more rear seat space you'd want to look elsewhere. The usual slew of ABS, EBD and stability control functions are also included in the car. It also has a DNA switch thingy where 'D' stands for dynamic, 'N' for normal and 'A' for All Weather. This DNA switch adjusts the throttle and steering responses of the Mito. Normal makes the steering lighter and the throttle response slower for urban ease of use and slightly better fuel consumption. Dynamic makes the steering more responsive and weightier and throttle sharper for enthusiastic driving while All Weather makes the steering weightier and the throttle somewhat like in Normal mode. I started in 'N' mode and basically found the steering very responsive but light. Too light for my liking. This setting was most probably a city mode used to make parking and maneuvering much easier in urban areas. The throttle response was good and it didn't feel like it had any turbo lag from the small 1.4liter engine. Then something quite surprising happened. On an off cambered left handed corner short stubby tail of the Mito felt like it was about to hurl the whole car and yours truly into oncoming traffic. I was doing a measly 80km/h and I was driving like I usually do down that familiar piece of road when it happened. The over light steering really needs some getting used to. I was expecting the quicker steering experience in the 'D' setting instead of here in 'N'. After driving a few more kilometers in 'N', I switched to 'D', and in doing so you could feel the steering weighting down a little more and the throttle response much better as it feels like all the 155ps is channeled to the front wheels. The little 1.4liter engine is perky even when accelerating to 160km/h on an uphill straight. But in this mode there is still not as much improvement in the handling sector as I'd like the Mito to have. While throttle response and power are good, the handling was still under suspicion. I got the verdict a few kilometers later. I took a nice long slightly off cambered, uphill sweeping corner at around 120km/h and the car decided to understeer really heavily. This, from a car that felt like it decided to send me tail first into oncoming traffic at 80km/h. The fact that it had the Q2 system and 215/40/17 tires on the car made the experience even more surprising. It should have more grip than this. It could be that the stability control kicking in too early and it was trying to straighten out the car. But hello? I was in the middle of a bend and I obviously needed to turn instead of plowing on straight into the ditch in front of me. It is really funny to be understeering when earlier the tail felt lose and ready to come round. Maybe at 7/10ths the Mito performs well, making nice fun progress. But turn things up a notch, it gets all worked up and gets distracted. I ended up trying the 'A' or All weather mode for about twenty kilometers or so and I liked this setting, which was surprising. The steering feels nicely weighted like in 'D' mode but not that darty and the throttle slightly more subdued than the 'D' mode (but not as sluggish as in 'N'). This somehow makes the car seem like a decent driving machine. This setting is meant to extract the most grip from the chassis and even though it only changes throttle and steering settings the car seems nice to drive here and if I bought a Mito, this is the setting I would use until I get used to the Mito's handling. So what I've found out so far was that the Mito may oversteer without your knowledge but it also may understeer without your knowledge too. While it is nimble and agile, it does get confused sometimes. Hence the Mito has a multiple personality disorder or in other words; there is some lunacy involved every time you drive the car. Now another little gripe is this. Say you like driving in the sporty 'D' mode. You have to set the DNA system to your preference every time you start the car as the DNA system reverts to 'N' setting as soon as you take the keys out of the ignition. Why can't the Mito have a memory switch for the setting you like and leave it in that setting? I like jumping into a car I own and driving off most of the time. It's like adjusting the driver's seat every time you get into a car. Yes, yes, yes. You're now saying that I am just being plain lazy or anal about reaching a bit towards a little switch. But it is an extra step in the whole process. And this brings me to a conclusion about most Alfa Romeos. I think the cars are simply very, very Italian. In this I mean the designers have that Italian way of doing things and follow the "Bella Figura" or beautiful figure philosophy of life. It is a well known fact that Italians, young and old, especially the young take pride in looks and dressing prim, fashionable, stylish or proper every time they leave the house. They would prefer a cup of cappucino over a mug of beer. They prefer dressing immaculately all the time. Even if they work as a street sweeper they dress better than some businessmen in the business district in London. And it shows in most Alfas of late. If you take a look at a 159 or a Brera or even the tiny Mito, style is paramount. But sometimes, or actually most of the time, when you get to the driving experience it slightly disappoints you. Much like that Italian you're supposed to meet but he turns up forty five minutes late. Why is he late? He thinks that being stylish is something like loving one's self but he also thinks that being early means that they would be a slave to punctuality. And this is a bad thing, being a slave. So this MAY be what's wrong, with the Mito. It does not want to do what you want to do, but wants to do what it wants to do. And this happens whether you like it or not. La Bella Figura is alive and well in the Mito. So does the Mito make a decent Mini Cooper alternative? I think if you like driving really fast on a tight narrow B-road, buy the Mini. If you don't drive that fast but want to look stylish, buy a Mito. Of course, this clearly means that this isn't the car for me to own at this time. Disclaimer: This test vehicle was provided to CarThrottle by the manufacturer for purposes of evaluation

Alfa Romeo Mito 1.4 Multiair Picture Gallery

Alfa Romeo Mito 1.4 Multiair Specifications

Base Price: £16,000-17,000 (approx. - depending on specification in the UK) Body: 2-door Hatchback Mechanical Orientation: Front Wheel Drive Engine: 4 cylinder 1.4 Turbocharged Power: 155 PS Torque: 230 Nm Transmission: 6 speed manual Weight: 1135 kg Wheelbase: 2510 mm Length: 4063 mm Width: 1720 mm 0-62 mph: about 8.0 seconds Top Speed: 210 km/h For: Looks, well built interior, looks, the badge, looks, power delivery, looks Against: Split personality handling, suspect handling, confused handling, DNA switch