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£18,605 when new
What’s this – two hot Alfas in a week? Quite correct. We tested the Mito’s big brother earlier this week, the Giulietta, so now it’s the little one’s turn. And it’s the same deal as the Giulietta: Alfa has re-launched the Cloverleaf Mito, only this time it’s calling the hot version the Quadrifoglio Verde (“Green Four Leaf Clover” in Italian). Prices start from £20,120 and for that you get all the usual hot hatch additions – flat-bottomed steering wheel, deeper bumpers and rear spoiler, Quadrifoglio Verde badge on the flank and grippy seats. So is it just a styling exercise? Definitely not. The QV badge is sacrosanct to the Italians, so they’ve done some engineering tweaks as well.
The engine is a 1.4-litre turbo unit, producing 168bhp and 184lb ft at just 2,500rpm. These are perfectly respectable numbers and they give a clue as to where this is being pitched – this is not an out-and-out fire-breather, more a warmed-up hatch. As such, the 0-62mph time of 7.3 seconds is reasonable (thanks to the new six-speed dual-clutch gearbox), and half a second off the Mini Cooper S. But that’s the only highlight, because the rest of the Mito’s engine is disappointing. Alfa has tried to make it sound interesting – a trick which they succeeded in pulling off with the Giulietta – but the Mito is bland. Think of a dreary four-cylinder drone and you’ll be about right. If anything, it’s just plain noisy – Alfa should have dialled back the resonance because as it stands, it doesn’t sound interesting when you rev it, plus it’s too noisy for gentle cruising. What about the chassis? We’re afraid that’s also a disappointment. Alfa has fitted adjustable dampers to the Mito to try and make it the best of both worlds – comfortable and exciting. But they don’t do either. It’s compromised no matter what sort of journey you’re on. Plus, the steering is numb and has an odd weighting to it, so that it’s not consistent throughout the turn. Are there any plus points? We’re struggling to think of any, aside from the dual clutch gearbox which is quick and accurate, if hardly exciting. The Mito was a reasonable alternative to the mainstream rivals when it was launched, but that was back in 2008. Now, it feels old. It’s like Alfa has desperately tried to drag it into 2014, but has done so without investing enough time and effort on it, just a bit of window-dressing. It really needs a wholesale change, and this QV spit and polish isn’t enough. The Giulietta QV is a better bet. If you really want a hot Alfa, head for that one. 4/10