Monday, 4 January 2016

REVIEW – Alfa Romeo MiTo 1.4T 140 QV Line

Alfa Romeo has seen a resurgence under Fiat-Chrysler Automotive (FCA) ownership. I have previously tested the Giulietta and rather liked it. This time I wanted to give its 3-door little brother- the MiTo- a go. I’ve always liked the styling and was curious to see if it had the substance to match. I opted for a sportier model in the QV line. This has the essence of the hottest Quadrifoglio Version, but to a lesser extent. So let’s kick off into the new year, and what a good year it is set to be for the marque; with the hotly anticipated Giulia set for release in September.

Looks – 10/10



The MiTo is built on the same platform as the Fiat Grande Punto, and yet looks much daintier than the Fiat. Alfa Romeo has always been about styling, and the newest models are in no way disappointing. The MiTo looks great from every angle, and in every trim. With the QV Line you get all the sporty touches, such as grey light surrounds, door handles and wing mirrors. This offered a glorious contrast against the optional Tornado Blue paint (£475). As standard you get 17-inch black alloys, privacy glass, and a lovely twin exhaust. The familiar triangular grille looks great at the front, as does the number plate being on one side of the car, making way for the sculptured honeycomb air intake. I still maintain that any car with pillar-less doors is cool, and the MiTo ticks that box.

On the inside the QV touches include white and green stitching on the seats and gear gaitor, dark roof lining, large aluminium pedals, the D.N.A. drive selector, carbon fibre effect trim on the dashboard and sporty red and white dials. The front seats each feature half of the Alfa Romeo logo, which is a superb touch, and the flat-bottomed steering wheel has a similar shape to the centre as is on the front grille. It’s quite chunky too, adding to the sporty feel. The multimedia screen for the Uconnect navigation system (£750) sits nicely in the dashboard, although it is a little on the small side. I’m not overly struck on the information screen on the dashboard either; the single-colour display is a bit ‘old hat’ these days. Minor issues in the grand scheme of what is a nice looking little car.

Handling/Performance – 8/10


The QV Line has the same 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine as the Quadrifoglio Verde, but with a reduced power output. That being said, the 140PS and 230Nm offering is a decent one, and makes the QV Line a warm hatch. The gem on offer in the MiTo is the 6-speed twin clutch (TCT) gearbox. It’s marvellous. Changes are barely noticeable in automatic mode, and can be prompted by pressing paddles behind the steering wheel in manual mode. This also has a launch control mode function, and that means the 0-62mph time of 8.1seconds is achievable by everybody. Top speed is 130mph, which means there’s still plenty of overtaking oomph at motorway speeds. There’s even a nice little rasp to the engine, and the pops on an aggressive up-shift will put a smile on your face.


Once you get to some corners, the MiTo does rather well. Its size means that it feels nimble. The 215-width tyres give you lots of grip, and the Brembo 4-piston front brakes give you plenty of confidence to attack bends. The D.N.A. drive selector is useful too. In dynamic mode the steering power assistance is reduced, and throttle response increased. This gives a nice weighty feel to the steering, although it didn’t feel quite sharp enough to give a pin-point turn in. The seats also lacked the lateral support to really stick the car into some corners. The suspension is noticeably firm, but having taking it on a hefty motorway drive I can also testify that it’s not uncomfortable. And for their lack of lateral support the seats were great on a long drive.

Economy – 10/10

The beauty of having a 1.4-litre engine is that it’s rather economical. And the TCT gearbox, as with all double-clutch type gearboxes, is more economical than a traditional automatic. The MiTo QV Line will return 52.3mpg on a combined cycle, and with CO2 emissions of 124g/km will cost you £110 per year (free first year). That’s VED band D, and not bad at all for a warm hatch. There’s start/stop technology, and when in natural mode the gearbox works well to keep revs down and minimise fuel use.

Practicality – 8/10

Despite its apparent compactness, the cabin of the MiTo was a decent size. To do this Alfa Romeo have made it a four seater, and this ensures adults can sit in the back too. At 5ft 7in I was comfortable in the back, but those who are fortunate enough to be taller than me might not be. The boot was big enough for your shopping, and the rear bench can be folded should you need more room. The downside to this is the lack of a split-folding rear bench; it’s four seater or two I’m afraid. To live with everyday the MiTo was great. The TCT box is a delight, the optional Uconnect is a must, as this is an all-encompassing satellite navigation, iPod control and Bluetooth hands-free system.

Fun – 10/10

For me one of the main reasons for buying an Alfa Romeo was always the soul and passion that exudes from every angle. I know that’s terribly clichéd now but I still think it holds true; a car with character will enhance your life. And I found the MiTo QV Line a delight. The styling has a sporty feel to it. The dynamic driving mode and paddle-shift TCT gearbox make the driver feel involved. And there seems to be a universal acceptance of Alfa Romeo’s amongst other car folk. Other Alfa Romeo drivers would wave, and I like that. But many of my friends would say “I do love an Alfa”. They couldn’t put their finger on exactly what, but I can. It’s the aforementioned character; it’s a charmer.

Concluding Remarks

So that concludes my week with the MiTo. It was an eventful week, with plenty of miles covered. And throughout it all the MiTo was fast(ish) and fun. Would I own one? It’s a tough question that. I really like the car, although I would probably enjoy the extra power of the Quadrifoglio Verde. I think the price could be a sticking point though. At £18,460 the QV Line is a little on the expensive side. My car as tested was the wrong side of £20k, and that puts it straight into the firing line of the top-of-the-range Fiesta ST. And I’m sorry, but I can think of no small hatchback on sale at the moment that will win that fight. I will say one thing for the Alfa though; MiTo got soul!

Total Score – 46/50

2 comments:

  1. I got a real kick out of being given an Alfa red Mito as a hilre car in Lanzarote a few years back. The trouble was, not only was it a sluggish diesel engine, it was also a two-door. Such a shame that Alfa can not find a way to make a four door when Ford can do it with the Fiesta and Vauxhall with the Corsa etc, etc.

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  2. After testing the Punto last year I declared its 1.4-litre petrol engine as the worst I had ever driven.

    Happily I think the newer engines, such as the 0.9 TwinAir, 1.4T and cracking 1.7TBi show that they seem to know what they're doing now. I'm hoping to test a Fiat 500X with the Diesel engine and 9-speed auto box. See how refined it is.

    I'm not so sure about the 5 door version. With it being only a 4 seater perhaps they didn't see the point. Or perhaps it would take away from the Giulietta if they did it. Take your pick!

    Thanks for reading

    Dan

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