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Reader test: Alfa Mito

2010-01-20 06:47

David Bing, Durban

So, the time came to trade in my beloved Alfa Romeo 147 for a new car. Some people might say that in today’s market I was spoilt for choice, but I disagree. You see, the blood in my veins is red for one particular reason, my passion for Italian cars.

Unfortunately I can’t afford a Ferrari, Lamborghini or Maserati just yet and I don’t really want a Fiat. So where does that leave me? Yup, you guessed it, back with Alfa Romeo and that’s fine by me. Sadly the 159, Brera and GT are out of my price range, but that’s ok, because there is a new stallion in Alfa’s stable, the fabulously sexy MiTo. So, I bought one, in black.

Now the styling of the MiTo is not everyone’s cup of tea. The front end is a little too cute, but the black paintwork does its part in making it a tad more aggressive and sporty. However the MiTo is definitely different and stands out on the road. Overall the styling gets a big thumbs up from me.

The interior too is a pleasant sight, the dashboard design is attractive, the ergonomics are good (for the most part) and the seats are comfortable and supportive. The only downside to the interior is that some of the plastics used are of the hard, scratchy type. But that’s a minor niggle. The important thing is there are no squeaks, no rattles and nothing has fallen off.

"Fantastic car"

However, the styling and the interior are only two small parts in the equation of this fantastic car. The most important factors are the engine and how the MiTo drives. Under the sculpted bonnet lies a 1.4 litre, turbocharged heart which develops 114 kW and 230 Nm of torque - and a rather pleasant sound I might add.

This force fed powerplant launches the Mito to 100km/h in 8 seconds dead and on to a top speed of 215 km/h. The six-speed gearbox is a joy to use and the torque from the engine makes the MiTo a pleasant long distance companion.

Perhaps the most talked about feature on the MiTo is the DNA system, which changes various aspects of the car to suit the type of driving you are doing. The two most important are Dynamic and Normal modes. When you change to Dynamic mode, there are several very noticeable changes. The steering weights up, the throttle response is sharper and you get the full 230Nm of torque from the engine.
Selecting Dynamic mode transforms this car into a little rocket ship. There is plenty of grip through the corners, understeer is minimal unless you are being stupid, the brakes are sharp and there is enough feel through the steering wheel to inspire confidence. The Mito is a fantastically fun little car to hustle through the bends.

The current list price of R241 000 is a little steep, but it is better value in my opinion than its main rival, the Mini, and should any Alfa gremlins attempt to dismantle your MiTo, worry not, you are covered by a three-year/90 000km warranty and six-year/90 000km service plan.

The MiTo is a great car, in every way, it’s just sad that most people won’t even give it a chance. That badge on the bonnet, the badge I love so much, scares people away.
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