What is it?
The latest iteration of the Fiat Group’s TwinAir engine installed in a mildly refreshed Alfa Romeo Mito as part of a range of minor model-year revisions for 2014.
The engine replaces the 85bhp unit previously available, and cuts 1.1sec from the 0-62mph time. Headline power outputs are rated at 103bhp, which arrives at 5500rpm, and 107lb ft, delivered at 2000rpm when the standard-fit DNA system is in Dynamic mode. Engage Natural mode and power drops to 97bhp and torque to 86lb ft.
Alfa says the key change has been to modify the intake cam profile so the engine can better modulate the amount of exhaust gas recirculated in its combustion chambers.
Emissions of CO2 increase by 1g/km at 99g/km, while claimed fuel economy remains at 67.3mpg. The engine is Euro 6 compliant.
Other changes applied across the revised Mito line-up include a new grille, new headlight surrounds and revised interior trims, which vary depending on specification. Our test car, in Distinctive trim, featured a two-tone red and black dashboard design.
The MY2014 Mito also introduces a new infotainment system with navigation developed by TomTom. The Uconnect system uses a 5in colour touchscreen and supports text-to-speech and audio streaming technologies.
What's it like?
You can forgive the TwinAir’s noise and vibrations up to a point, because it is one of the most characterful engines around with a sound that almost begs you to drive it that little bit harder. The problem is that when you do, you quickly run out of revs and into a soft limiter just short of the indicated 6000rpm redline.
Changing up a gear drops the engine to around 4000rpm, which means there’s an operational rev range of around 1500rpm. That the engine doesn’t really get into its stride until around 3000rpm doesn’t help, either.
Frequent gearchanges are required, then, but the six-speed manual gearbox fitted to our test car refused to be hurried, particularly when selecting third. We are told that it may have been an issue specific to our car, so we will reserve judgment for now.
The steering suits tight, winding roads when large turns of lock are applied. With the DNA system’s Dynamic model selected, there’s a decent amount of weight and consistency once you’ve overcome an initial band of over-assistance.
On straighter roads, the steering impresses less with an artificial feel and a lack of communication with the front wheels in Natural or All-weather modes. Better is the Dynamic mode, which gives a far more consistent feel and adds much-needed weight.
Elsewhere, the Mito is business as usual: a driver’s seat that can ratchet to a surprisingly low position (a good thing, given the headroom-robbing sunroof fitted to our test car), a dash that lends a sense of occasion, even if it lacks a cohesive design, and a ride that is rather too firm.
Should I buy one?
Probably not. Unless you’re an enthusiast (and Alfa frequently points to its fiercely loyal Alfisti), the Mito TwinAir is a compromise too far. For most drivers the engine is a little too loud and for keen drivers, the rev band is just too narrow.
And although we’re yet to conduct conclusive fuel consumption figures for this new version of the engine, we’ve previously struggled to achieve even half of Alfa’s claimed average.
Despite an on-paper increase in running costs and a £900 price premium, the 135bhp 1.4-litre turbocharged four is likely to represent a better choice.
Alfa Mito TB TwinAir 105hp Distinctive
Price £15,550; 0-62mph 11.4sec; Top speed 114mph; Economy 67.3mpg; CO2 99g/km; Kerb weight 1130kg; Engine 2cyl, in-line, 875cc, petrol; Power 103bhp at 5500rpm; Torque 107lb ft at 2000rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual