I must apologise for the state of the test car in my images, which is why I have also used AR media snaps. In my defence, the weather that week was appalling. You simply cannot keep a car clean in winter. That’s my excuse. Now, call me peculiar but I have a soft spot for Alfa Romeo cars of all ages. When, in due time, Gabriel and his air-horns call me to that great parking garage in the sky I know I will be given free entry to the petrolhead’s bar and the executive ‘restroom’ because, you see, I have personally owned two brilliant but flawed cars from the Italian manufacturer.
This also demonstrates that I am resilient and can take it on the chin. Being an Alfa owner requires the patience of Job but in a world where cars – be they superminis or SUVs – are starting to all look the same in each sector it’s good that Alfa Romeo choose to plough their own furrow with cars that have a certain design flair.
What a shame then that, in the case of the Mito, they still haven’t got it quite right. Revised in 2016 with a new look designed to emulate the style and attitude of the Alfa Romeo Giulia, the Mito comes with more technology, a revised range and the introduction of the updated 1.3L JTDM-2 turbo diesel (tested here) with increased 95hp output and reduced CO² emissions of just 89g/km.
Other engine choices include a 78hp 1.4L petrol, a 875cc Turbo Petrol TwinAir 105hp and the aforementioned diesel.
I was hoping for a petrol version as cars of this type don’t suit a diesel in my ‘umble opinion. Needless to say, a diesel model turned up. Well, as you can imagine, my heart sank.
Yet as it turned out, all was well. The 1.3L engine in the test car proved to be lively and responsive; not quick, obviously, but not at all diesel-y. The result was well over 50mpg.
To give the Mito the new Alfa Romeo family feel the styling has been revised with new sports grille, dark-finish headlamp bezels, revised rear bumper designs and new alloy wheels.
Inside, all models get new upgraded seat upholstery, Uconnect Live services and a new finish on the centre console, dashboard and door trims. The new Alfa Romeo logo features inside and out, while the Mito badge adopts the same script as that of the new Giulia. Obviously, the higher up the range you go the better it gets, topping out with the bigger-wheeled Veloce variant.
The seats are comfortable and supportive, no complaints there, but really this car is best described as a 2+2. I found adults struggled in the back although kids are fine. This might be because the boot is a generous size for a small car; deep too.
The model tested here is the entry-point trim level known simply as Alfa Romeo Mito. It comes with new 16” alloy wheels, satin chrome-effect exterior detailing on the grille surrounds, headlamp and tail lamp surrounds, air conditioning, Alfa DNA driving mode selector, a rear spoiler and a Uconnect 5-inch touchscreen infotainment system with DAB and Bluetooth connectivity. This latter feature doesn’t look very impressive compared to what is on offer in other models from other brands, but it all works okay.
Options include the Visibility Pack (auto headlamps and wipers, electro-chromic rear-view mirror and folding door mirrors); Comfort Pack (front centre armrest, floor mats, rear parking sensors and front seat lumbar adjustment); Sport Pack (tinted windows, front fog lamps, sports instrument cluster and red brake callipers); dual-zone climate control, electric sunroof, sat-nav plus an eight-speaker BOSE audio system. Some of these were on our test version.
It is typical of Alfa Romeo that they make the DNA switch big and racy. Essentially, it changes the characteristics of the car to suit the road conditions or mood of the driver.
For those who want relaxed driving Natural mode sees to it that each individual component affected by the Alfa DNA system is in its normal configuration. The Normal mode suggests gear shifts with a Gear Shift Indicator; this allows fuel consumption and emissions to be optimised for, say, around town.
On slippery surfaces, drivers can select All Weather mode, which accentuates the effect of traction control and increases sensitivity on multi-split (useful when the car is driving over surfaces with differential grip, for example 2 wheels on ice and 2 on asphalt). This system allows for maximum road-holding under conditions of low grip.
For drivers who prefer a more sporty experience they can simply move the lever to Dynamic. Steering power assistance is reduced giving a, in my opinion, better weighted steer, just like a car from the Italian brand should be. The car becomes sharper and turns briskly into corners. Dynamic also offers drivers better control of lateral acceleration and improved engine response due to a specific torque curve. Overall, it is a marked difference.
Inside our Mito it was all a bit gloomy. There’s not much to lift the predominantly black interior, despite some red stitching. There’s still, in this day and age, far too much hard plastic around. Sure, prices start at around £13k but still and all, I’d appreciate a few more soft-to-the-touch surfaces.
On the road I found that, with the centre armrest down it impeded my gear shifts and made the handbrake inaccessible. With the armrest up I kept crashing my elbow against it when shifting.
When the original Alfa Romeo Mito when first launched there was universal criticism of the ride. On the updated model, in Natural mode, it’s a little better but it still falls short. In Dynamic mode, although the car drives brilliantly, the ride is simply too jiggly. What a shame.
The Alfa Romeo Mito is like the curate’s egg: Good in parts. It’s an Alfa and I really want to like it but the drawbacks cannot be ignored. For a single person or a young couple it would certainly make a left-field choice because of the stand-out design, but I just don’t think it is enough.
When you look at the new Guilia you can see what Alfa Romeo can do when they really put their collective mind to it. It is beautiful. Now, if only the Italian company can offer us a new Mito with some of those high-end values we would really be getting somewhere. Geoff Maxted