Alfa Mito Multiair v BMW 320D ED v Honda CR-Z v Merc E200 BE v VW Golf GTD
30 April 2010

The Alfa Mito 1.4 Multiair, BMW 320D Efficient Dynamics, Honda CR-Z, Mercedes E200 CDI Blue Efficiency SE and Volkswagen Golf GTD may seem an odd group of cars.

But they all have some key features in common: 0-60mph in under 10 seconds and average fuel consumption above 50mpg.

See the 50mpg heroes picture special

What makes this fascinating is that the cars' makers have gone about achieving these results in different ways.

The Honda CR-Z is the first sporting hybrid. It's propelled by a 1.5-litre petrol engine that functions in tandem with an electric motor, the two combining to produce 122bhp. Co2 emissions are 117g/km.

BMW's 320d Efficient Dynamics is less technically adventurous, bigger and heavier. Yet the 161bhp diesel scores 109g/km, out-accelerates the Honda and can carry five.

The Mercedes E-class Blue Efficiency produces its 134bhp at a low 2800rpm, and manages 137g/km.

The Golf GTD is perhaps the least radical car here, although its 168bhp 2.0-litre common-rail diesel is one of the best in the business. It hits 139g/km in manual form, but 147g in this DSG version.

Alfa's Mito is also a relatively conventional hot hatch, and has the innovative Multiair engine. Just 1368cc, it produces 133bhp and emits 129g/km of Co2.

In the cars

You sit low in the Honda, and it's spacious up front. But there are restricted views over the shoulder and behind, and the rear seats are useful for luggage only in reality.

The engine's eagerness, the short-throw shift, the sporty driving position and a firm ride all encourage spirited driving, as does the limited roll, plentiful grip and steering that's quicker than the Insight's. The chassis, though, is still disappointingly inert.

On a B-road it is mildly entertaining, even if its performance rarely rises above brisk. The real fun is to be had from its instrumentation, and the miserly games they allow.

The BMW also allows numbers games - albeit via an old-school, needle-swinging econometer. But the real fun comes from the surprisingly strong performance - determined acceleration comes from 280lb ft of torque that overcomes the tall gearing.

The BMW needs pushing hard to bring it alive, but it achieves its pace with civility, the well insulated cabin giving a premium aura that neither the Mito or Honda achieve.

The Golf GTD is also civilised, and fun. Press the Sport button and it's quick (0-62mph in 81.sec) and handles B-roads with aplomb.

The Alfa is the cheapest car here, and it's better for having the Multiair engine, which is refined and fun. But that sophistication is undermined by a crashingly turbulent ride, somewhat crude handling and weirdly springy, if quick, steering.

Throw in a mushy gearchange, a not-really-premium dash and hard-to-read instruments and you have the least polished vehicle here, by some margin. The Cloverleaf remains the Mito to have.

The Mercedes is as surprising as the name is long. The powertrain delivers the kind of zest you'd expect from an engine 800cc larger. True, its 0-62mph time is the longest here, but on the road its low-revving, steam-train torque and smooth delivery are beguiling.

This dynamism blends with the usual subtle Benz attributes of no-nonsense comfort, space, practicality and aura of robustness.

Real world figures

Only one car failed to break 40mpg - and the Alfa's 38.7mpg is still pretty good considering.

Next came the Honda, at 43.1mpg, the Golf at 43.3mpg, the Merc at 46.7mpg and then the BMW, which topped 50mpg.

Conclusions

The 320d is the most rounded car here - but not the most entertaining.

That prize goes to the Merc, for its unlikely mix of economy, performance and deft handling, all in a big car. It appeals as much for the unlikliness of its performance as its competence.

It's closely followed by the Honda which, despite its flaws, remains a deeply appealing package for its style and verve.

The Golf is more of an all-rounder, but its appeal and practicality could be enhanced with efficiency measures like stop-start and driver aids.

That leaves the Alfa, which is strong for visual and emotional appeal, and for its innovative engine.

The full story is available in Autocar magazine, on sale now.

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Comments
73

27 April 2010

My god, another landmark unbiased article by Autocar. First Jamie Corstorphine's piece on the Audi RS5 now this. Has Autocar come to its senses or simply buckled under the weight of reality.

This sums it up:

'Only one car failed to break 40mph(sic) - and the Alfa's 38.7mpg is still pretty good considering.

Next came the Honda, at 43.1mpg, the Golf at 43.3mpg, the Merc at 46.7mpg and then the BMW, which topped 50mpg.

Conclusions

The 320d is the most rounded car here - but not the most entertaining.

That prize goes to the Merc, for its unlikely mix of economy, performance and deft handling, all in a big car. It appeals as much for the unlikliness of its performance as its competence.'

The Germans are unarguably outstanding at this car thing: BMW is engines; Merc is back to its virtues of solidity and stress-free driving, and VW is the most competent mass-market maker.

Like Jamie Corstorphine, whoever wrote this write-up deserves congratulation.

27 April 2010

You compare diesels and hybrids with purely gasoline engine in Alfa!? The fact that Alfa Mito is in this group speaks for itself! You may call me " Alfista ", (which I am ), but, yor verdict is bias ( not the first time! ).

27 April 2010

My main issue is the fact that this piece is so littered with spelling errors and grammatical mistakes I found it painful to read. Seems to be a theme with these "multi-tests" they release on the website, I can't remember reading one yet that appeared proof-read (there, I've done it, I've turned in to a spelling-nazi).

27 April 2010

what about comparing the cars value for money wise? still, I wouldn't take golf - too slow (81 secs to 60 :)), alpha and cr-z too much of cheap plastic.. bmw performance is probably killed by long gearing, so it really leaves the merc as the pick of the bunch. should sell great with this engine.

27 April 2010

[quote Autocar]What's the best 50mpg car?[/quote]

Toyota Prius.

27 April 2010

[quote theonlydt]

My main issue is the fact that this piece is so littered with spelling errors and grammatical mistakes I found it painful to read. Seems to be a theme with these "multi-tests" they release on the website, I can't remember reading one yet that appeared proof-read (there, I've done it, I've turned in to a spelling-nazi).

[/quote]

i dont now waht your saying?

Yes, AC on the web is appallingly bad for that sort of thing. Almost as if they're publishing it on the hoof; but still no excuse for sloppy English.

27 April 2010

[quote RadeB]You compare diesels and hybrids with purely gasoline engine in Alfa!? The fact that Alfa Mito is in this group speaks for itself! [/quote]

matters not, whether it be a petrol or diesel Alfa, the Mito is a terrible car - that's become plain since launch. Not only is it terrible, it could be dangerous, as shown by its failing NCAP's obstacle avoidance test(with ESP) and the even more recent toppling of a Fiat Punto-platformed Citroen Nemo Multispace(without ESP) in an ADAC avoidance test. The Mito is a Punto underneath.

http://www.autobild.de/artikel/citroen-nemo-versagt-beim-elchtest_1168547.html

27 April 2010

All gallons are not equal. When comparing diesel and petrol cars it's worth remembering that using a gallon of diesel produces about 10 per cent more CO2 than using a gallon of petrol. That's if you care about the environment and CO2 output at all. If you just car about the cost of filling the car up, then diesel tends to be the better bet, even with the current UK price differential.

27 April 2010

[quote GreenMotor.co.uk] That's if you care about the environment and CO2 output at all. [/quote]

yes and no. Plants love CO2. AGW is a scam. Do you want to be the last loon proclaiming Global Warming? Off you trot.

27 April 2010

[quote rtwingo]

[quote Autocar]What's the best 50mpg car?[/quote]

Toyota Prius.

[/quote]

Fail. the test was for 50mpg AND 0-60mph in <10 secs.

Apparently Prius sales are bombing, post Toyota's exposure, and the Celeb *hiterati have now moved on to Merc's hybrids to display their faux Greenness.

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