Looks aside, Alfa’s most frugal Mito disappoints for its strangled performance and firm ride

What is it?

Alfa’s modestly refreshed Mito range brings with it lower entry prices, higher standard specifications and a fuel-sipping, sub-100g/km CO2 version tested here.

This new 1.3-litre turbodiesel Mito is the cheapest diesel and most frugal version in the line-up. The engine is one you’ll also find in the Fiat Punto and Vauxhall Corsa, although power outputs and economy differ slightly.

In the Mito, it emits just 95g/km, making it exempt from road tax and the London congestion charge. Alfa also claims an average of over 75mpg. On paper, things look promising.

What's it like?

In practice, however, this eco model disappoints. In the lower regions of its torque band, the engine’s turbocharger doesn’t respond quickly enough, making smooth progress between the Mito’s five forward gears strangled and frustrating, especially in traffic. A six-speed ’box would probably ease this but isn’t offered.

Other mechanical gripes include a gruff-sounding engine, spongy steering and a hesitant stop-start system that doesn’t spark up the engine quickly enough when called upon. Intrusive tyre roar, especially at motorway speeds, is another issue.

The ride is fidgety and sports-car firm; add to this an impractical ride height, which causes the Mito’s front end to kiss – sometimes hammer – the tarmac over speed bumps and town driving can be challenging. On the plus side, though, front-end grip is great, making this a fun car to pilot on twisty (but smooth) roads.

Inside, you get plenty of kit – cruise control, Bluetooth and air-con are included – and the seating position is second to none, but the Mito’s interior quality can’t compare with the superior fit and finish of its diesel-powered Audi A1 and Mini rivals. It’s also lacking in cubbyholes.

Should I buy one?

The 1.3 JTDm-2 certainly isn’t the best model in the Mito range (that’s the 1.4TB MultiAir), but it is priced very competitively. And although our 200-mile mixed-driving test route didn’t return Alfa Romeo’s keen average fuel economy figure, 53mpg is still respectable.

However, given the fierce competition, the Mito fails to shine. The ride is too compromised and the Germans simply do it better.

Alfa Romeo Mito 1.3 JTDm-2 Sprint

Price: £14,450; Top speed: 108mph; 0-60mph: 12.9sec; Economy: 78.5mpg; Co2: 95g/km; Kerbweight: 1150kg; Engine type, cc: 4 cyls in line, 1248cc, turbodiesel; Power: 85bhp at 3500rpm; Torque: 148lb ft at 1500rpm; Gearbox: 5-spd manual

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newdevonian 21 January 2012

Re: Alfa Romeo Mito 1.3 JTDm-2

I agree 100% with Zimmerit. As an owner of a Giulietta Diesel 170 and a MiTo petrol 95 (wife's car), I cannot see the point of this new model. The little petrol engine suits this car as an entry level model perfectly. It's no tyre burner, but the lightweight engine allows a very quick steering response and super glue road holding. (Takes me back to my Westfield). OK its a bit bouncy, but that is half the fun. I did have a 1.6 diesel MiTo as a loan car, which I hated. It had no redeeming features, which tells me that some small cars do not suit a heavy lump up front. Given its good road holding, lightweight petrol units of 100 - 170 bhp are the way to go. Trying to raise sales by making it a MiTo 500 economy shopping trolley is NOT the way to go. I do despair with Marccione at the tiller. Sometimes Italians do not make the best captains of the ship.

Zimmerit 20 January 2012

Re: Alfa Romeo Mito 1.3 JTDm-2

I don't get this car at all, Alfa is hardly the first brand you think of when "economy" is the be all and end all. Every Alfa should be a la Renaultsport - but a complete range. No luxury - that was Lancias job - cue laughter. I think the whole perception of Alfa and its potential customer base has been totally out of kilter since Fiat took over, arguably even before. Rumour has it there will even be a TwinAir MiTo, utter madness. Having said all that I just don't think Alfa or rather Fiat has anything like the money to make a proper job of it and so we come full circle to VW's ambitions. For what it's worth I have had 14 Alfas and think the Giulietta is a fine car. The 2 I have driven have been streets ahead of the Golf GT I have experience of. But one fine car and one curates egg does not a range make. I don't buy for one moment the excuse Macaroni has given over the Giulia's styling hiccups and the 4c needs to be mighty good to carry the flame until it comes out. I really fear for the marque.

RadeB 20 January 2012

Re: Alfa Romeo Mito 1.3 JTDm-2

I wouldn't discuss the look of the MiTo because its too personal. It works for me, and many others that I know.Actually, everyone I know, and everyone who saw it in the metal, like it.

Than again,one may say that I hang out with weird people.

The downsides of this car stems, maybe, from the Punto/Corsa platform,which Alfa tried to negate when MiTo was introduced.

I don't understand what is to be expected more from the entry model than this. And what would you choose other than this, for the money.This model is aimed to the young drivers who are not permitted to drive stronger cars.

My opinion is that, if you want to buy an Alfa Romeo, you should always go upwards in the range.

Or, go for something else! DS3, A1, Mini....