The MiTo is the first car in Alfa’s range to get the new six-speed TCT (twin-clutch transmission), available initially only with the well-regarded 1.4 TB MultiAir four-cylinder.
Makes sense. Small, perky hatch gets slick, compact dual-clutch gearbox that allows in-town left-leg laziness and country-lane amusement. Mate that to a fizzy 135bhp engine, and you get 51.4mpg, 128g/km of CO2 and 0-62mph in 8.2 seconds, shaving a sly digit or two from the figures posted by the MiTo-plus-manual (50.4mpg/129g/km/8.4 to 62mph).
You may pay a £1,200 premium, but you don’t lose in the performance stakes and add a healthy dose of in-town convenience, right?
Wrong. The TCT is hugely irritating, and the reasons are varied. The MiTo TCT manages to post a decent CO2 figure because it comes equipped with a standard start/stop system, only the second such system fitted to an ‘auto’ gearbox – the first being on Porsche’s Panamera. We have no problem with that, but the way the TCT interacts with the start/stop is intensely annoying.
Pull up at traffic lights, and the engine dies as you brake to a standstill. Remove your foot from the brake, and the engine starts – comedically from the starter motor rather than kinetic storage, making the headlights flicker in time with the starter motor’s electrical cannibalism. Then move your foot over to the throttle.
Only after the engine has fired up (a second or two) does the gearbox attempt to select first (another second), at which point you have pressed the throttle, causing the engine to rev. The gearbox then catches up and dumps the clutch, causing ungainly lurch.
Worse if you happen to be on a hill, because the MiTo will roll backwards while the various systems attempt to rouse themselves, making you look like a berk. Switch off the start/stop, and you get a large, permanent orange light in the dash, a light that seems to invite you to smash it with your fist. Possibly.
The new ‘box also apparently chooses gear ratios at random, shuffling arbitrarily through its six speeds like a drunk croupier. The steering-wheel paddles (a £100 option), seem to operate downshifts with jet lag, and although it may deal with shifting smoothly if you drive entirely regularly, as soon as you fiddle with the throttle or make a heavy input, the engine over-revs like a CVT, while the gearbox ums and ahs and puts its metaphorical fingerin the corner of its mouth. A shame, because the MiTo TB MultiAir 135 is a perfectly good little hatch. Just don’t ruin it with TCT.
We like: MiTo still cuts a supermini dash
We don’t like: Totally ruined by rubbish ’box
TopGear verdict: The Alfa TCT is a first attempt and feels like it. Avoid with every fibre of your being.
Performance: 0–62mph in 8.2secs, max 129mph, 51.4mpg
Tech: 1368cc, 4cyl, FWD, 135bhp, 170lb ft, 1170kg, 128g/km CO2
Tick this on the options list: Six-speed manual, and save £1,200
And avoid this: The TCT gearbox in its entirety