Does the Alfa Romeo Mito Cloverleaf address the issues that affect the more mainstream models within the Mito range?

Find Used Alfa Romeo Mito Cloverleaf 2010-2011 review deals
Offers from our trusted partners on this car and its predecessors...
Used car deals
From £999
Sell your car
In partnership with
Powered by

There are three good reasons for reviewing the Alfa Romeo Mito Cloverleaf. The most significant is that the Mito was one of the first cars in the Fiat group to benefit from Fiat’s revolutionary Multiair engine technology.

We think that it’s a system worthy of full explanation and evaluation.

The Cloverleaf version could remain the hottest version of the baby Alfa

Although in time Multiair will also be used on diesel, at the time Alfa is launched with two Multiair models, both petrol: the 1.4TB 135 and the range-topping 168bhp Cloverleaf.  

Which leads us to our second motivation: with the rumoured Mito GTA never coming to fruition, the Cloverleaf version could remain the hottest version of the baby Alfa.  

But it is the final reason that may be of greatest interest to Alfa fans, because the changes made for the Cloverleaf (new dampers, steering and gearbox) promise to address the areas we criticised most in the Mito’s original test.

If these claims ring true, the Mito could finally be the characterful, desirable and entertaining hot hatch it should have been from the get-go. 



Alfa Romeo Mito Cloverleaf front grille

Beneath styling inspired by Alfa's 8C Competizione supercar sits a reworked Punto/Vauxhall Corsa platform. As with other Mitos, the Cloverleaf is front-wheel drive and rides on MacPherson struts at the front and a torsion beam at the back. Even the Cloverleaf’s 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder 16-value engine is basically the same unit that powers all petrol Mitos.

However, much has changed in the details. The most interesting is Multiair, in essence a form of variable valve timing working on the inlet. The difference with Multiair is that the system is electro-hydraulic, rather than purely mechanical, which allows for far greater control. Whereas most conventional variable valve timing systems switch between two settings, Multiair has five, one of which opens and closes the inlet valves twice in a single cycle. It can also operate different strategies on a cylinder-by-cylinder basis. 

The Cloverleaf is the only Mito to receive adjustable dampers

The result, says Alfa, is 12 percent more power, 11 percent less CO2 and a 10 percent drop in fuel consumption for the Multiair 135 (which replaces the TB120). For the Cloverleaf, which replaces the TB155, read 10 percent more power, nine per cent less CO2 and an eight per cent fall in consumption. Multiair-equipped Mitos also benefit from stop-start technology

The Cloverleaf is the only Mito to receive adjustable dampers. The active system fitted to the Cloverleaf (Synaptic Damping Control) uses electrically controlled valves to adjust the damping force automatically based on readings from five sensors. It can also be adjusted manually from the cabin using the DNA switch. The Cloverleaf is also the only Mito to get revised mapping for the electrically assisted steering, again controlled by DNA. 

Although the old TB155 had a gearbox with six ratios (lower-powered Mitos have five), it wasn’t an especially enjoyable gearbox to use. However, the Cloverleaf comes with an all-new six-speed gearbox that will also appear in other Alfa models.

One other technical revision to the Mito range not represented on the Cloverleaf but available on the Multiair 135 is the option of a twin-clutch six-speed automatic gearbox. 


Alfa Romeo Mito Cloverleaf dashboard

Beyond the presence of an extra number on the gearlever, it would take an expert to distinguish a Cloverleaf’s cabin from that of any other Alfa Mito.

There are no QV badges and the only distinguishing features are the darkened headlining and steering wheel. The standard cloth sport seats are the same as the Veloce’s, which is a shame because they could do with being a touch more supportive.

The driving position is good but not great

The driving position is good but not great. The seats are set low but the relationship with the steering wheel is slightly awkward. There’s insufficient steering rake adjustment, too.

The overall cabin design is busy but easy to use and you can customise it. The ‘carbonfibre’ fabric weave is available in black, red or blue, and there are two seat colour choices. 

In the rear there is enough room for two adults but it is not especially spacious; then again, neither is the Mini or Ford Fiesta. A third rear seat (along with an additional headrest) is an option.

There’s 270 litres of luggage space, which is over 100 litres more than that of a Mini Cooper S but fractionally less than the three-door Fiesta ST’s or Renault Clio Cup’s


1.4-litre Alfa Romeo Mito Cloverleaf engine

The Mito Multiair’s abilities in this area really set it apart, not only for outright pace but also for the flexibility and economy provided by the new generation of Alfa Romeo engines – particularly this range-topping, 168bhp, turbocharged model. 

The variable air intake technology means that you can use fifth gear at 30mph around town at just over 1000rpm and the engine never feels as if it is about to stall,; it still offers acceleration. In this respect, the Mito is class-leading

The motor’s abilities are often masked by Alfa’s DNA system

We managed an average of 7.9sec to 60mph in wet conditions over two runs with two passengers, and although that hardly sounds quick by today’s standards, the Mito Cloverleaf always feels like a rapid car when you want it to. From 30mph to 70mph it is just 0.3sec shy of the more powerful Mini Cooper S. There is sufficient flexibility under low loads, but to extract the maximum performance you need to keep the engine spinning beyond 2000rpm, where you can’t miss the sudden surge of acceleration as the turbo kicks in. And there is little point extending it beyond 5000rpm, after which it can become flat and more strained. 

Unfortunately, the motor’s abilities are often masked by Alfa’s DNA system. Unchanged from the non-Multiair Mitos, this system offers three settings: Dynamic, Normal and All-weather. On the Cloverleaf, the throttle, steering and dampers are altered depending on which mode you select, and it is the throttle response that causes most frustration. In normal mode, it is very spongy and requires a lot of travel before the engine finally responds. Dynamic mode improves it dramatically, with a much more immediate response that is easier to modulate. Why the throttle response isn’t always in this setting is a mystery. 

A short-shift, six-speed gearbox brings significantly more driver reward thanks to its precise changes. The ratios are well chosen for a car destined to cover the many tasks of a hatchback, and although there is a low grumble from the engine, which will be doing at least 3000rpm at motorway speeds, the cabin is a quiet enough place to be at all times. 


Alfa Romeo Mito Cloverleaf cornering

This was the most disappointing area for previous Mito models, but the new Cloverleaf offers both more driver reward and better ride comfort. It is only on this range-topping model that Alfa Romeo has changed the damper attributes, and it is not flawless, but the Cloverleaf covers broken and rutted road surfaces with better body control and more supple damper absorption. 

Oddly, the DNA system’s sport mode is preferable to normal, even in town. By selecting normal, the car keeps its softer setting unless it senses that the driving style demands otherwise, but its extra suspension rebound actually makes for a less comfortable ride, even if occupants are more isolated from breaks in the road surface. The firmer setting in dynamic helps eliminate the rebound and the dampers still effectively cushion occupants from most of the tarmac’s imperfections.

Everything about the Mito speaks of a car set up to be very safe

The Cloverleaf also handles better than previous Mitos. The steering responds with less of the artificial springing sensation and, together with the firmer damping, it allows the driver to benefit from a sharp turn-in and nimble chassis response. Unfortunately, while it has improved, the sterile steering disappoints no matter which DNA setting is selected.

Although there is body roll, the weight settles progressively on the suspension into a corner and stabilises very quickly, making this car a predictable steer even at high speeds on a track. Predictably, if you carry too much speed into a corner, the Mito will understeer until you lift off the throttle, when it will pull itself back into line.

Everything about the Mito speaks of a car that is set up to be very safe, but it doesn’t detract from the fun. In dynamic mode, if not in any other mode, it has quick responses, plenty of grip, a well-balanced chassis and a usable engine that makes it a thoroughly likable performance hatch.


Alfa Romeo Mito Cloverleaf

The most obvious rival for the Mito Cloverleaf is the Mini Cooper S, which costs less than the Alfa. But given that the Mito is the bigger, better-equipped car and offers better economy and emissions, it is the more practical purchase by some way. 

Its low CO2 emissions of 139g/km place it in the third lowest company car tax band and road tax is only £120.

Our 36.1mpg test average falls short of the claimed 47.1mpg

Although our test average of 36.1mpg falls way short of the claimed 47.1mpg, it’s a good result given the performance available and the variations in our test route. 

Depreciation will be the biggest expense by far. The Mito fails to beat the Mini’s benchmark residual values, and it fares even worse than rivals such as the Citroën DS3 150 THP. As a used buy, then, it makes a huge amount of sense.


3.5 star Alfa Romeo Mito Cloverleaf

The appeal and driver reward of the Alfa Mito has been significantly improved by the Cloverleaf. The Multiair technology is a dramatic improvement, the steering more responsive, and the ride and handling better judged. 

However, the steering still feels detached and the ride quality falls short of others in the class.

The Mito Multiair is a truly likeable hatch

As ever, the electronic DNA system proves more irritant than aid. More so than with any other Mito model, it is evident that this could be a genuinely excellent hot hatch if it were not hindered by unnecessarily complex electronic systems. 

Still, the Mito Multiair is a truly likeable hatch and, thanks to the latest updates, it’s now a fun one as well. Given that it is also well equipped, good looking, cheap to run and practical, there is more reason than ever to want this range-topping junior Alfa.

Alfa Romeo Mito Cloverleaf 2010-2011 First drives