Style doesn’t have to be costly, as Italian promises great returns
An economy test proved too much for this diesel MiTo. While the sporty, powerful JTDm engine returns reasonable economy, Alfa’s more efficient 1.3-litre oil-burner would have fared better here.
For most of the cars in this test, fuel economy is the priority. Not so the Alfa MiTo, which aims to be desirable and stylish first, and then kind to your wallet second.
So why have we included it here? Well, despite its premium pretensions, it has a price that can make a well equipped MINI Cooper D look expensive, while its spec sheet contains some eye-catching figures. Our 1.6-litre 120bhp diesel model claims to return 58.9mpg combined, corresponding to emissions of 126g/km. The small-capacity 1.3-litre JTDm variant is even more efficient, achieving 62.8mpg economy and putting out 119g/km of CO2 – although the more powerful unit is better suited to the MiTo’s sporty character.
Not so long ago, the idea of a diesel Alfa Romeo would have been sneered at by most brand enthusiasts. But the latest generation of Multijet engine has enough power and torque to deliver the kind of performance we’ve come to expect from the company. The question is whether you pay the price at the pumps – and on the evidence of this test, you do.
Over our 300-mile route, the MiTo returned an average of 51.6mpg – which is 10.7mpg worse than the Ford and 15.2mpg behind the Volkswagen. As a result, the £26.54 bill for our trip in the Alfa was the highest of all the cars on test. The petrol Justy beat it on pure economy, and while the Jazz was marginally less efficient, the lower price of petrol means it completed the journey for £2.14 less than the MiTo. Over the course of 12,000 miles, that equates to an £85 saving if you drive a Jazz, while you could pocket £241 by choosing the Polo BlueMotion over the MiTo!
To make matters worse, the Italian hatch also has the highest CO2 emissions in our quintet, although because Alfa fits a particulate filter as standard, its output of 126g/km is reasonable for such a powerful diesel model. Still, it’s a case of so far, not so good – but the MiTo does have other talents. From the outside, it is easily the most distinctive car in our line-up and its interior is opulent compared to these rivals – particularly the stripped-out Polo. Its £14,464 price tag is £349 more than the ultra-frugal VW, but our Veloce test model feels like a car from the class above.
It’s also way ahead of its competitors on the road, largely thanks to an impressive peak torque output of 320Nm. At the test track, it sprinted from 0-60mph in only 9.7 seconds – that’s 3.1 seconds faster than its nearest rivals, the Honda and VW.
The trouble is, for all its pace the Alfa isn’t the most enjoyable car to drive in this line-up. That honour falls to the Fiesta – because the Ford’s more supple ride and engaging handling highlight the shortcomings of the MiTo’s rigid suspension, slightly notchy gearbox and over-light steering. And this, coupled with its poor showing at the pumps, is the Alfa’s undoing.
Chart position: 5WHY: Style comes as standard, but can the MiTo add strong economy to its many talents?
In this review
- 1IntroductionWe go on a 300-mile marathon to choose the best of the latest superminis for buyers wanting to slash their motoring bills
- 21st Blue oval baby claims best economy figures of our contendersEven though this Fiesta falls some way short of its official combined economy in the real world, it’s still one of the most efficient models currently on sale – and there are no compromises to be made.
- 32nd Does petrol-only range hold back class’s most flexible car?The Jazz very nearly took the victory here – factor in its low list price and the cost saving of choosing petrol over diesel, and it’s the smartest financial choice. What lets it down is its sluggish pace.
- 43rd German contender has been a trailblazer for eco city carsEven though it was the most economical supermini in the test, the Polo BlueMotion is expensive – so it only really makes sense if you want to reduce your emissions, rather than save money.
- 54th Japanese baby blends low consumption with a bargain priceFar from disgracing itself in such accomplished company, the Justy was capable, economical and surprising fun to drive. Only a lack of comfort and a questionable image hold it back.
- 65th Style doesn’t have to be costly, as Italian promises great returns - currently readingAn economy test proved too much for this diesel MiTo. While the sporty, powerful JTDm engine returns reasonable economy, Alfa’s more efficient 1.3-litre oil-burner would have fared better here.
- 7Facts and figures