Alfa-Romeo has revived the spirit of the iconic Alfasud with its brilliant MiTo, which will not only wow South African Alfistis but even convert some other.
With the local launch of the MiTo, it is the Italian carmaker’s first compact hatch here since the Alfasud of the 1970s and ‘80s. And what’s more is that BMW’s Mini brand might just have met its match with the MiTo as it is a pocket rocket of note with seductive styling and engineering credentials to match.
So, for a minute forget about Alfa Romeo’s reputation around questionable reliability and quality and focus on what the MiTo is about.
The MiTo is a stunning-look 3-door sporty hatchback with a proud automotive heritage. The car’s name is derived from the Italian cities Milano, which is Alfa’s spiritual home, and Torino, where the MiTo rolls of the production line. But “mito” also means myth or legend in Italian.
All of this means that the MiTo is a red-blooded Italian with the purist of genes. For example this feisty Alfa takes its styling cues from the carmaker’s dazzling 8C Competizione super car, while under the bonnet lurks a pure-bred Alfa powertrain in the from a state-of-the-art 1.4-litre turbo petrol unit.
And don’t be fooled by engine’s small capacity... It develops 114 kW at 5500 r/min and maximum torque of 206 Nm at 2 000 r/min but a mighty 230 Nm can be obtained at 3 000 r/min by simply selecting dynamic driving mode with the so-called DNA switch.
This switch offers a “normal” and “all weather” options too, while, depending on the mode, will change the steering stiffness and the sensitivity of the accelerator too. In other words, if you seek more fun and switch it to “dynamic” mode the engine torque curve changes resulting in quicker responses to the accelerator.
The MiTo also features Q2, which means that the traction control device brakes the inner wheel and redistributes the torque, applying it to the outer wheel with the greatest grip. This maintains the desired trajectory with optimum traction.
Though sharing underpinning with the Grande Punto, the MiTo is a swift and eager number. Its engine also offers a pleasant growl which is synonymous with the Alfa badge.
With good composure through corners and plenty of grip, it gives the driver the same go-kart thrill like the Mini. The car’s steering isn’t as sharp as one would like it but overall it is loads of fun.
It also feels as if the MiTo won’t run out of breath at all as its 1.4 unit is truly remarkable with great torque delivery. According to Alfa the MiTo will reach a top speed of 215 km/h and go from 0-100km/h in 8 seconds.
In its Euro N-Cap safety test the MiTo achieved a 5-star rating thanks to a fullhouse safety kit which includes seven airbags.
On the inside, the MiTo offers a pleasant, upmarket cabin where attention to detail is key. It’s packed with standard features including a USB port and Bluetooth. Several trim levels is available too, while leather trim is optional. Standard wheels are 17-inch alloys, but buyers can spec their MiTos with 18-inchers too.
As a package the MiTo is a charming vehicle, a true “driver’s car” and difficult to fault. It’s a confident and refined compact sporty hatch with great character, set to become another legendary car for the Alfa Romeo brand.
Though let’s hope it isn’t plagued with typical Alfa problems as the suits at the Italian carmaker are confident that the MiTo is a quality piece – but time will be the judge of that.
If you keen on a thrilling compact car, then the MiTo might be a good choice. Its sporty looks and excellent dynamics are complimented by keen pricing.
At R228 500, which include a 6-year/90000km service plan, it is a better-priced alternative to the Mini Cooper or other sporty hatches such as the VW Polo GTI and even entry-level BMW 1 Series models. What counts in the MiTo’s favour is that its standard feature list is very comprehensive too.