Alfa Romeo MiTo 1.4 TB Veloce

Timing is everything and the MiTo has arrived at the perfect moment, plugging a vital hole in the Alfa line up.

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Timing is everything and the MiTo has arrived at the perfect moment, plugging a vital hole in the Alfa line up. It doesn’t have the dynamic finesse of the MINI and the jury is still out on its styling, but you can’t argue with its entertaining handling, impressive pace and incredible value for money. Prices start from £10,745 and with its broad selection of engines MINI buyers finally have a genuine alternative

Say hello to the MiTo! Alfa Romeo’s new supermini is small – but it fills a big hole in the line-up. With new car sales hard to come by and many motorists looking to downsize, the sporty hatchback has hit the UK in the nick of time, but has it got what it takes to rival the all conquering MINI?

It doesn’t take a genius to work out where Alfa’s designers looked for inspiration. They’ve grafted the front and rear of the stunning 8C Competizione onto a four-metre long hatchback and, whether or not you like the results, you can’t deny the MiTo is incredibly striking.

To our eyes the squat rear end is the most successful part of the design, but the little Alfa does exactly what it set out to do because it really turns heads. Its MiTo badge also splits opinion and enthusiasts will point to a raft of historic names that could have been revived instead. What does it mean? Well, the new car was designed in Milan and is built in Turin (Torino in Italian). Put the two together and you get MiTo.

Flagship Veloce guise includes satin trim around the light clusters and on the door mirrors, a rear spoiler and gorgeous 8C-inspired alloys. Equipment levels on the inside are equally generous. All cars feature air conditioning and alloys as standard but top-of-the-range models include a multi-function steering wheel and Alfa’s Blue&Me interface, which provides Bluetooth mobile phone connection.

The interior is attractive, with high quality plastics, classy switchgear and an excellent driving position. Glance over your shoulder and the rear seats are cosy, but there is still room for a pair of adults to sit in reasonable comfort - for short trips at least. However, the 270-litre boot is mediocre and the single-piece folding rear seat compromises practicality.

This car is all about style, though, so most buyers will be more concerned with how it goes. And with the range topping 155bhp 1.4-litre turbo engine the MiTo is fast. The benchmark 0-62mph sprint takes only 8.0 seconds and its bassy exhaust sounds purposeful, even when you’re not using all of its performance.

Less powerful 95bhp and 120bhp versions are also available, along with a pair of economical diesels, but the hottest engine is free revving and tuneful.

The MiTo needs more than raw pace to succeed, and the good news is that it’s also a riot to drive. It’s the first Alfa to feature the firm’s new DNA system, which provides three driving modes at the flick of a switch. The All-weather setting optimises the throttle response, ESP and traction control for slippery conditions. Normal is designed for urban use and Dynamic mode sharpens the throttle, raises the threshold of the ESP and provides more weighty steering. It also firms up the suspension to reduce body roll in the bends.

On the road the steering lacks feel but its ultra direct gearing provides sharp turn-in and there’s plenty of grip. Turn into a bend too fast and the nose neatly tucks in as you lift of the throttle. Ride comfort also remains comfortable, even in the sportiest setting. Best of all is the price, because even our top spec MiTo will set you back only £14,745.

Rival: MINI Cooper The MINI rules the roost in the premium supermini class with a mixtureof fine handling and fashionable retro styling. The Alfa has more powerand kit, so the MINI looks pricey when you take equipment into account.

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