RED HOT OR NOT?
Earlier this year, the MiTo range was expanded with the addition of an entry-level 1.3-litre diesel model. Ian Robertson tests the newcomer
The Alfa MiTo stirred up a bit of a storm when it was revealed in the spring of 2008. Its cutesy looks and semi-premium feel seemed to add up to much more than the sum of its parts, which were rather unkindly referred to as a jazzed up Punto. At launch, its 1.6 JTDM engine delivered sparkling performance with decent fuel economy and low emissions. The Italian car maker also promised an entry-level diesel, powered by the more modest 1.3-litre JTDM engine, which has now arrived in UK showrooms.
Things get off to a great start when you climb into the cabin. The grippy leather sports seats hug your body, and there’s a pleasing design to the dashboard and instrument cluster. The faux carbon-fibre look to the moulding is distinctive, while the use of soft-touch plastics adds to the feeling of solidity and quality. As you would expect from a three-door car, access to the rear isn’t easy, and there’s not an awful lot of legroom once you’re wedged into the back. Rear vision is, at best, restricted, and at worst downright dreadful. Boot space is competitive at 270 litres, although you’ll need to haul luggage over the high loading lip.
As we’ve come to expect from Alfas, the handling is sharp, with plenty of grip, decent turn in, and the kind of eagerness that makes you want to press-on. Early MiTos came in for some criticism for the unresolved ride, and Alfa has paid attention. The improvements are welcome, but they don’t go far enough, as the ride is still unsettled and uncomfortable over potholed roads. The 1.3-litre MultiJet engine develops 90bhp in this application and makes for eager, nimble performance. It isn’t the quietest unit about though. That, combined with a roar from the large alloy wheels, means the MiTo can become tiring over a long journey. CO2 emissions are competitive at 119g/km, which means that the annual tax disc costs a mere £35, and it achieves 62.8mpg on the combined cycle.
At £14,795, the MiTo isn’t exactly cheap compared to the raft of other, more affordable 90bhp sporting diesel hatches. On its side, it has the cachet of the Alfa Romeo badge and decent residual values. Standard equipment is generous too, with air conditioning, electric front windows, leather steering wheel, Blue&Me entertainment system and a full set of airbags, including knee protection. For a sporty flavour, there’s a unique rear bumper, 17-inch alloy wheels, red brake callipers and a subtle boot spoiler.
RIVALS: Ford Fiesta Zete c S 1.6 TDC i, Mazda2 1.6 Sport Diesel, Peugeot 207 Sport HDi 90
- Engine: 1248cc, 4-cylinder, turbodiesel
- Gearbox: 6-speed manual
- Max power: 90bhp at 4,000rpm
- Max torque: 148lb ft at 2,000rpm
- Max towing weight: 1,000kg
- Max speed: 110mph
- 0-62mph: 11.8secs
- Combined consumption: 62.8mpg
- CO 2 emissions (taxband): 119g/km (C)
- Bootspace: 270litres
- Insurance group: 11
Fun to drive, well equipped, low CO2 emissions, distinctive looks
Suspension is still unforgiving, restricted rear vision, high loading boot sill