A new era for Alfa, but lacking the dynamic flair of the Mini Cooper D

What is it?

This is the Alfa Romeo Mito 1.6 JTDm, a direct rival to the multitalented Mini Cooper D. And with the 118bhp, 1.6-litre turbodiesel under the bonnet, the Alfa Mito 1.6 JTDm is an attractive package of economy and style, but it lacks the dynamic flair that makes the diesel Mini the enthusiast’s choice.

The Alfa Romeo Mito also gets Alfa’s DNA technology. This is a software package that allows the driver to alter the car’s steering, throttle, suspension and traction control systems between dynamic, normal and all-weather. On this Mito 1.6 JTDm, and the range-topping Mito 1.4 TB155, choosing the dynamic setting also engages a turbo overboost facility.

What’s it like?

Though the JTDm powerplant is a fun engine to keep on the boil, the Alfa Mito 1.6 JTDm can feel laboured on the way up the rev range and requires regular use of the notchy, long-throw gearbox to maintain swift progress.

With the dynamic setting selected the Alfa Mito loses its frustratingly sluggish throttle response and springy steering to become a much more entertaining drive, aided by Alfa Romeo’s Q2 electronic diff system, which does a convincing impression of a mechanical limited-slip diff and significantly helps mid-corner traction.

Unfortunately the ride quality lets the Mito 1.6 JTDm down in most situations; only on the smoothest of surfaces does the ride really settle. While body control is good, the shock absorbers translate the asphalt’s topography into uncomfortable crashing and jarring in the cabin, even at normal town speeds.

At least the ride settles on the motorway and allows the driver to enjoy the Mito 1.6 JTDm’s decent cruising ability. A well insulated cabin, accessible torque band and muted engine makes this Alfa Mito a very usable long-distance car, though more supportive seats would further improve the experience.

There are plenty of other practical selling points, too, like a decent sized boot and enough space in the rear for two adults, though some might find it slightly claustrophobic in the back due to the small, high rear window.

Should I buy one?

We can see the argument for the Alfa Mito. The Mini is a better driver’s car, but if you’re bored by BMW’s take on the British icon, the Alfa is a fun and classy alternative.

In truth the Alfa Romeo Mito 1.6 JTDm will sell on style first, but Alfa deserves credit for creating a likeable car, even if the high-temperature-washing-machine-accident looks are not to your taste.

If the Alfa Mito’s looks are to your taste, and economy is more important than performance, then the 1.6 JTDm is an excellent choice. But if a Mito still appeals and adrenaline ranks higher than money on your priority list, look to the 1.4 turbocharged petrol models for a much more thrilling drive.


Join the debate

Add a comment…
Will86 30 January 2009

Re: Alfa Romeo Mito 1.6 JTDm Lusso

The Mini and Mito are both viewed as premium stylish small cars, so are in direct competition even if the Mito is a little bigger.

It maybe that the interior space of a Clubman is comparable with a 5dr Corsa, but practicality isn't just about space. We certainly didn't buy a Clubman for a huge load bay, but for its ability to carry the loads we require. So the adjustable height boot floor, adjustable back rests for the rear seats, and the flat loadbay when the rear seats are folded are perfect. Sure we could have had that in a Honda Jazz, but where's the fun in that?

jwyatt 28 January 2009

Re: Alfa Romeo Mito 1.6 JTDm Lusso

Another Autocar Alfa test, another hatchet job - I remain convinced someone at Alfa must have done something horrific to someone senior at Autocar in years past! On a more serious note, it seems bizarre to state so early in the test that the Mini is the driver's choice, then to totally fail to describe any aspect of the car's handling. Traction is mentioned - and praised - but that is about it. And as usual with Alfa tests, the score seems somewhat harsh, and there are subjective comments about looks that never appear when BMW's horror-shows are tested.

The negativity seems to focus around one thing - the usual Alfa "thing" that polarises opinion in modern Alfas - a harsh ride. Good body control but a relatively stiff ride could describe most modern Alfas (except the softer 159/Brera) but in my experience the positive aspect of this compromise is very limited roll/squat/dive, and excellent handling in smooth surfaces, where many of Autocar's favourites serve up disturbing levels of body roll and dive under braking. That some of us might like this particular version of the ride/handling compromise - and the fast steering that Autocar always moan about - and that some people might not want to do all their quick driving exclusively on the very worst tarmac, seem never to be considered.

That Alfa's engines are superb, their build and materials quality vastly better than rumoured, and even in many cases their residuals decent (if you buy sensibly in the first place - i.e at big discounts!) are similarly forgotten. I found it ironic in the recent GT jtd test that now VAG have finally dropped their spectacularly agricultural pump-deuse diesel engines for some half decent (for diesels) units, Autocar saw fit to criticise the Fiat/Alfa common-rail diesel engine which was for so many years superior to the mainstream German diesels - not that we were ever told that at the time in certain publications. It seems a fidgety ride is fine for Audi, too.

Why do I care? Not because star ratings matter to me, but because a significant portion of UK car buyers seem to exhibit sheep-like tendencies when it comes to buying cars, and poor reviews affect sales and residuals. Too many buyers won't even test a car if the magazine reports are bad, and I've seen first hand how people react to Alfas when they ride in one for the first time - they typically are very impressed and this can only come from the fact they believed all the negativity in the press.

Anyone from Autocar who thinks I'm talking out of my posterior can have a read of my reviews of my car at:


and is welcome to have a go if they disagree with any of it. As long as whoever it is that was wronged by Alfa is not waiting in the background with a hatchet...

cooper s 28 January 2009

Re: Alfa Romeo Mito 1.6 JTDm Lusso

As suggested,you may well be bored by MINI but do you really want what looks like a Micra coupe but lacks that quality build and falls apart within 3 years giving NIL return? No thanks, I'll stick to my Cooper and get 60% back in 3 years.