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Alfa Romeo MiTo Review

Find out more about the Alfa Romeo MiTo in the latest Motors.co.uk Review

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4
Out of 10
Average Price £7,836
Model Review

Named after the two cities where it was designed and built in – Milan and Torino – the MiTo is a quintessential Italian city car with its stylish design, small dimensions and reasonably cheap to run.

First brought to the market in 2008 the MiTo was the brand’s first supermini and was built,on the GM Fiat small platform – the same as the Vauxhall Corsa and Fiat Grande Punto.

The model has gone through both an update in 2014 and a minor facelift in 2016 to bring it more in-line with the design of the Giulia saloon.

But this car has a problem, and it’s quite a major one – Alfa markets it as a premium supermini, and that puts it up against the likes of the Audi A1 and MINI Hatch which are much better in all aspects.

Latest Model

Updated in 2016, the refreshed MiTo was revealed at the Paris Motor Show and gave customers a look at the Veloce trim, which replaced the outgoing Clover Leaf model.

The new Veloce model came with red leather sports seats, a 170bhp 1.4-litre turbo petrol with automatic transmission and a new set of 18-inch alloys to complement the new look.

Apart from that the rest of the range remained mostly untouched, with only cosmetic changes the main difference from the pre-facelift version.

Customers get the choice of four trim levels and five engines so they can find the right MiTo to suit their style, but the model may not have long left in the line-up as Alfa may soon move away from small cars and focus more on sportier models, such as the 4C and Giulia saloon.

 

Value for money

The model was first released in 2008 and by today’s standards it isn’t that great value anymore, as the base MiTo starts from £13,840 and cheaper options on the market can offer much better accessories. But for the base MiTo you get Alfa’s Uconnect with Bluetooth, Aux/USB and DAB radio, mobile access, manual climate control, electric front windows, Start&Stop, electric power steering, leather steering wheel, chrome exhaust tail pipe, sporty bodywork, airbags and vehicle dynamic control with Alfa’s DNA system.

So it’s definitely worth checking the used market for high-powered and more interesting options from the MiTo’s history. One example is a 2015 MiTo Quadrifoglio Verde, which comes with a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol producing 170bhp, automatic gearbox with paddle shifters and a much more impressive level of spec.

With the Verde model you get a 5-inch touchscreen with Tom-Tom satellite navigation, Bluetooth phone connectivity, USB/Aux input, CD player, DAB radio, cruise control, manual climate control, Quadrifoglio-exclusive alloy wheels and black leather seats. This example only has 7,000 miles on the clock and comes in at £12,750, considerably lower for a better equipped model and much better drivers’ car.

 

Looks and image

One reason for the MiTo to be a good choice is its looks and it is one of the best-looking compact cars on the market. The 2016 update brought an improved front end design that is similar with the Giulia saloon and the overall flow of the design is very appealing. The roof line is low and sporty, while the bodywork is extended in the right places. The interior is less well designed but everything is where it should be. The materials don’t feel as refined as they do in other premium superminis but it isn’t the worst place to be in the world.

Driving is where the MiTo seriously lets you down and there isn’t a nice way to say this – it is awful to drive. You would expect from a brand like Alfa Romeo for it to be interesting to drive and good fun, but the steering is poor in most places and despite which mode you choose to drive in it never feels particularly great. Okay it changes direction well enough but feedback is minimal.

In town though the steering is light so you can fling it around urban environments well enough. The chassis never feels like it is settled and offers a very jiggly ride at all speeds with whatever suspension setting and make-up you have. If driving feel is one of the main things for you, then look elsewhere.

The aforementioned ride is rather uncomfortable almost everywhere and even if the top-end models come with adjustable suspension, they can’t cover up the rather unrefined end product. Exterior noise and road imperfections make their way into the cabin pretty easily and you never get the sense of premium wherever you go. Interior passenger space also isn’t stellar, although the rear seats do offer more space than in a MINI Hatch.

Space and practicality

As it is a small car space isn’t exactly brilliant but you do get 270 litres of boot space and you get the option of turning the rear seats from two to three seats as well as getting a 60/40 split rather than a single rear bench. But the boot isn’t easily accessible as it has a high boot lip and the opening isn’t that large.

Also rear passenger space isn’t the best as the roofline doesn’t help with headroom for anyone over six-foot. Front space is good enough and the driving position is quite low, which is good for being involved in the drive yet bad considering the ride comfort. One big impracticality though is the fact the MiTo is a three-door, which makes getting into the back tricky and accessibility not particularly great.

In terms of safety, Euro NCAP last tested it in 2008 and it scored five-stars for adult safety – the maximum it could attain – while also getting three stars for child occupants and two stars for pedestrian safety.

You also get seven airbags, Isofix points and ESC as standard, with brake assistant, ABS and hill holder also being employed as part of the MiTo’s safety line-up. But by modern standards, it is a meagre showing on Alfa’s part and would require significant rework if they choose to keep the model going.

For families it is best to steer clear of the MiTo as it isn’t particularly practical, more modern vehicles are safer and accessibility isn’t great either. People will find that it isn’t up to the standard of other models and you will find it can’t quite perform at the same level as some of its rivals.

 

Engines

Engine options come in the shape of four petrol units and one diesel power block, with the top end 1.4-litre MultiAir 170bhp petrol only available in the Veloce model. It returns surprising emission and efficiency figures, while also getting from 0-60mph in 7.2 seconds and on to a top speed of 137mph. The only diesel unit is a 1.3-litre 95bhp motor and it returns an excellent 83.1mpg and emits only 89g/km CO2, but it is poorly refined and doesn’t offer a great drive. Don’t bother with the 1.4-litre 8v with 78bhp as it hasn’t got enough puff and is less efficient than the 105bhp Twinair.

 

Running costs

As you would expect the diesel is the smart choice in this aspect due to the aforementioned efficiency and emissions statistics. It returns above 80mpg and emits less than 90g/km CO2 – meaning road tax costs of £100 for the first year. But considering the refinement of the petrol units is marginally better, the efficiency figures also stack up – as the 875cc Twinair that produces 105bhp returns 67.3mpg and emits 99g/km CO2. That means road tax of £120 for the first year, which isn’t bad at all. Insurance groups do vary from group 10 for 8v models all the way up to group 26 (!) for the Veloce version.

Things to look out for

Despite the MiTo needing only one recall during its life in the UK for reduced brake efficiency after servo pipes lost pressure, it is certainly worth keeping an eye. The interior finish is poor, so that may fall apart, and you may feel like you’re getting rattled around a fair bit because of the very firm suspension. Alfa Romeos don’t have an excellent reliability record either, so the reputation for the MiTo isn’t very stellar.

 

Rivals

In this section, you will find all of the vehicles better than the MiTo in almost every aspect. The Ford Fiesta, Citroen’s C3, the Polo from Volkswagen, the MINI Hatch, the Audi A1, the Seat Ibiza and Italian rival the Fiat 500. That is a long list and you are much better off looking through those at the MiTo. It is out of date, out of touch and well behind in so many areas.

 

Depreciation warning

Compared to its rivals, the MiTo performs poorly and loses a large amount of its value after a few years. That is due to its poor overall execution and poor reliability from Alfa Romeo, which severely hits the MiTo.

Which MiTo to Pick

Trims Explained

For the MiTo, Alfa offers four trim levels – MiTo, Super, Speciale and Veloce – with all coming with a decent level of equipment.

MiTo

In MiTo spec you get the Uconnect system with mobile access, Bluetooth, USB/Aux, DAB radio, manual climate control, electric front windows, Start&Stop, leather steering wheel, chrome exhausts, sports rear bumper, rear spoiler, airbags, vehicle dynamic control, brake assist and 16-inch alloys.

For the base spec MiTo model, Alfa charges £13,840.

Super

With Super models you get a slightly sportier feel but little is added from the MiTo spec. You get 17-inch alloys, aluminium kickplates, sports pedals, Alfa’s comfort pack – which includes rear parking sensors, adjustable front armrest, and driver and passenger lumbar adjustment – and Alfa’s DNA vehicle dynamic control.

This makes the MiTo a nicer place to be but the jump to Super from MiTo spec is quite excessive up to £17,200.

Speciale

The main change between Speciale and Super is the addition of the Speciale pack, which includes dark tinted rear windows, sports dials, sports pedals, a flat-bottomed leather steering wheel with red stitching and sports rear diffuser. You also add 17-inch darkened alloys, cruise control and a carbon finish to the dashboard.

The Speciale upgrade from Super is relatively small considering the changes and the starting price is £17,950.

Veloce

The Veloce model is the top model in the line-up and with it you get 18-inch alloys, a six-speed TCT automatic gearbox, active suspension system, electric power steering, red brake calipers, carbon finish for the headlights and dark external finishing including the door handles and wing mirrors.

What to look out for

  1. All rivals are better
  2. It depreciates poorly
  3. Alfas aren’t reliable
  4. Running costs are quite reasonable
  5. Reasonably spacious for a city car
  6. Engines are quite efficient
  7. Plenty of cheap options on used market
  8. Good to look at
  9. Poor ride and drive
  10. Feel unrefined

Review Rating

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