This new Alfa Romeo MiTo closely follows this year's excellent 4C coupé, which proved what the company is capable of - and it's now time for its current range of small cars to be updated.
The range has been simplified, and the car benefits from some subtle visual changes, as well as a better-quality interior, new technology and an updated TwinAir petrol engine.
This 875cc two-cylinder is fitted with stop-start, and is officially capable of 67.3mpg fuel economy (although 45mpg is more realistic). It emits the same 99g/km of CO2 as before, despite the fact that power is boosted by 20bhp to 104bhp.
The power hike helps to slash the 0-62mph sprint time by a useful 1.1 seconds, to 11.4 seconds, although you don’t really notice it until you reach 4,000rpm. This engine thrives on high revs, and the narrow power band and short gearing can be quite frustrating when you’re not in the mood to wring it out in every ratio.
On all but the smoothest surfaces, the ride patters around noisily, with the alloy wheels thumping and crashing over speed humps and potholes. The six-speed box is vague and the steering doesn’t feel connected to the front wheels.
The DNA switch on the centre console allows you to vary the throttle response and steering weight, but spongy responses in anything other than D – Dynamic mode – render it virtually redundant. Alfa really should have addressed this.
The interior was the Achilles heel of the pre-facelift MiTo, and a major revamp here introduces a fresh dash design, as well as new plastics. Plus, the Uconnect colour touchscreen system has been added. This is easy enough to use, but only serves to expose how the rest of the cabin has aged. Swathes of hard and mismatched plastic with unusually textured surfaces and sharp edges are simply not good enough in a car that claims to have premium aspirations.
Add cheap leather trim on the steering wheel and gearknob, plus lacklustre fit and finish throughout, and the MiTo still falls well short of rivals like the ageing MINI – and even the cheaper Vauxhall Adam feels more robust.
Space inside is also limited, with tall passengers struggling for headroom in the back. And although the boot is quite deep, with a 270-litre capacity when the rear seats are in place, its high and narrow shape makes loading luggage awkward.