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.

Details

Chart position: 5WHY: Style comes as standard, but can the MiTo add strong economy to its many talents?

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