What is it?
A bold attempt to miniaturise whatever it is that makes an Alfa covetable, the MiTo brings Alfa’s desirability and sporting pedigree to the supermini segment. Or at least that’s what we’re meant to believe. The truth is that the MiTo, named after Milano and Torino where it was designed and made, is an odd-looking and rather compromised affair that makes precious little sense against the Mini, or even a highly optioned Fiat 500. Looking like an 8C Competizione that’s been captured by one of those Amazonian head-shrinking tribes you read about in old geography text books, it’s a classic example of a car you can be vaguely happy exists on the strict proviso that you don’t have to own one.
The MiTo is no mini 8C, sadly. In fact, it’s no Mini either. Despite Alfa’s raison d’être being great handling and driver involvement, the MiTo is a very ordinary driving experience. It’s based on the Fiat Punto, no driver’s choice itself, and as such gets a raft of decent enough engines: five petrol, topping out at 170bhp, and two strong if agricultural diesels. But, charismatic as the new two-cylinder TwinAir is, none provides the MiTo with a convincing performance angle, and despite the inclusion of Alfa’s ‘DNA’ system that offers three settings for throttle, ESP and traction control, this remains a woolly driving experience with insensitive controls and a pretty terrible ride. It’s a shame, as we love the idea of an affordable and entertaining Alfa in the vein of the legendary Alfasud, but this really isn’t it. Anyone looking for performance on a shoestring would be mad to overlook hot Clios and Minis for this.
On the inside
The MiTo is a mixed bag on the inside. It’s reasonably solid-looking and finished well with contemporary and nicely styled details, but it still loses ground to the Mini and Polo in terms of overall quality.
The rear of the three-door-only MiTo is very cramped too, and the boot doesn’t benefit from this. And despite being well equipped up front with things such as aircon and a trip computer as standard, you have to stump up for a split/folding rear seat. What you glean from all this is that practicality is not at the forefront for the MiTo, something worth remembering in a highly competitive market segment where doing all things for all people is not an impossible ask.
Alfa’s reputation for inconsistent quality requires a gentle mention, but the MiTo might fare better, and certainly those Fiat-sourced diesel engines are strong and reliable. It’s a fairly expensive car, though, and not one that is likely to hold its value as convincingly as a high-spec VW Polo or nicely optioned Mini. This is a heart-over-head choice for sure, but we’re all about heart.