What is it?
The Alfa Romeo Mito has been around since 2008 now, with a few updates along the way, and this is the most recently tweaked iteration.
It’s received cosmetic and kit updates and more power for the two-cylinder TwinAir model. The turbocharged 875cc engine previously put out 85bhp but now it produces 103bhp - although torque remains at 107lb ft. The extra power helps cut the 0-62mph time from 12.5sec to a more tolerable 11.4sec.
Emissions have increased by a negligible 1g/km of CO2, but it still qualifies for free tax thanks to its overall 99g/km rating, and the average mpg figure is unchanged at 67.3mpg.
Alfa has revised the available trim levels too; the range now comprises Sprint, Distinctive, Sportiva and Quadrifoglio Verde.
We tested the Sportiva model which comes with 18-inch alloys, cruise control, parking sensors, air-con and a five-inch touchscreen media system with Bluetooth, USB and aux-in connectivity.
What's it like?
Inside it’s effectively business as usual, barring the addition of a new multimedia system. The cabin is interesting enough, there’s plenty of front-end room and everything works as expected. There’s just enough space in the back for two - the Mito only has four seat-belts - and there's a capacious boot and a good amount of kit, too.
What’s disappointing, and relatively unsurprisingly, is the TwinAir’s economy and lack of flexibility. We averaged an indicated 38mpg, some way off the claimed 67.3mpg, following a relatively sensible test route. That's a figure that’d easily be returned by many significantly more powerful engines.
In order to make swift progress you have to work the Mito hard, further crippling its economy, at which point another issue raises its head – noise. A mechanical cacophony erupts every time you pin the throttle open, to the extent that you can overlook the fact that you’re bouncing against the engine’s soft rev limiter.
Fortunately a precise and swift-shifting six-speed transmission helps you make the most of what's on offer, while Alfa's DNA driving mode system offers up a limited range of adjustments for the car's steering weight, throttle response and stability controls.
This allows you to somewhat tailor the car to suit your particular mood - although most will probably put it in the most engaging, Dynamic, which best suits the Mito's perky nature.
On the right roads, there is enjoyment to had from the Alfa, thanks to its agile chassis and occasionally endearing powertrain. In isolation it’s not an entirely unlikeable car, but many may quickly tire of its noise, overly film ride and occasionally uncommunicative steering.
Should I buy one?
You're going to have to really want a Mito in order to justify buying one. Its rivals, including the Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Polo and Suzuki Swift, offer up more modern, competent and complete packages.
The reality is that even Ford’s Fiesta ST, which might not seem like a sensible rival, will average circa 35mpg, prove far better to drive and be more appealing overall.
More importantly, the Fiesta ST only commands a tolerable and easily justifiable list price premium of £695 over the Alfa. If economy was your primary purchase motivator, however, perhaps a small diesel or one of Ford's characterful EcoBoost petrols would be a more sensible choice.