What is it?
This is a second verdict on the new Alfa Romeo Mito, because the first press Mitos were incorrectly set up. This iteration is much better, if hardly flawless.
Whether undergoing the rigours of the Autocar road test or battling amid the white heat of comparison, we have so far found Alfa Romeo’s Mito wanting. The 153bhp Veloce version scored a disappointing 2.5 stars in our road test, and it came last in a face off against the Mini Cooper S and the Ford Fiesta Zetec S.
Alfa was not happy, its circumstances only slightly mitigated, by the subsequent discovery that all the UK press cars were fitted with a pre-production iteration of the electric power assisted steering software, and obsolete damper settings too.
All the Mitos that have actually been sold to customers, says Alfa Romeo, were fitted with later iterations of steering software and shock absorbers.
What’s it like?
The unaltered Mito had weirdly springy steering, and an often crashy and restless ride that quite often sent quivers through the through the body. We were wrong to say, though, that the Mito has some form of electronic damping regulated by its DNA control - it doesn’t, but the additional steering resistance in Dynamic, and the looser front shockers of the original, made it feel under-damped in the normal mode.
The revised Mito is a real improvement, however. First, the steering’s springiness has mostly gone - it was particularly strong in the Dynamic mode and, though the resistance still feels slightly odd, it’s acceptable.
The ride and damping control benefit more from the mods, the Alfa more tightly controlled more of the time, and its ride less crashy over the rough stuff.
These improvements make it easier to enjoy and exploit its high levels of grip. You are encouraged to push it towards the intervention point of its Q2 electronic diff (it brakes wheels individually to emulate a limited-slip diff), which in combination with its skid-compensating steering, helps the Alfa resist understeer through a hard-charged bend.
Should I buy one?
While the Mito puts up a serious challenge to the Mini, which is also a pretty busy drive, we reckon the Fiesta is more capable, despite flaws including excessive road noise and lazy brake response.
Where the Ford scores is with its suppleness. Despite this allowing more roll, its offers fluent responses and a back axle that works harder to counter mid-bend understeer than either of these rivals can manage.
As a result, the Fiesta remains our favourite, but the Alfa is sufficiently improved to be on a par, overall, with the Cooper S, and a usefully more appealing car.