What is it?
This is the Alfa Mito TCT – the first model in the Fiat Group to get the new six-speed dry dual clutch gearbox, which works in conjunction with start-stop tech and is developed in-house. It is the only car in this segment to offer stop-start on an auto transmission - something that only Porsche has managed so far in the UK. Technically it’s a clever achievement, being light, compact and aiding emissions and economy.
The Alfa Romeo Mito is not the kind of car that will sell big numbers of automatic models in the UK, but there is demand for it globally and even over here it will still account for 5 per cent of the Mito's sales.
What’s it like?
For those who do fall into that audience this is a good option.
It's currently only available with the 1.4 135 MultiAir engine tested here, though it will appear on other models as well as the Giulietta range, and when driven around town in an un-hurried fashion it shifts gear smoothly and makes good use of the motor’s flexibility.
The only real problem is the start-stop. Or rather the start, which arrives a few seconds later than expected just as the gap in the traffic you were aiming for closes. It is a trait that could become less frustrating and easier to counteract with familiarity – and the start-stop can be turned off - but it is nonetheless an irritation.
Our test car came with optional £100 wheel-mounted paddles, which are worth including if you are willing to pay the £1250 for the auto. With the box in manual the paddles are a more enjoyable way to control the gears than with the stick, and the best way to work the ‘box given that it doesn’t gel well when being driven hard in any other mode.
As with all Mitos the ‘DNA’ system offers three settings, and in the TCT model these also alter the gearbox. In Dynamic auto mode it will hold onto its gears for longer, and together with the sharpened throttle response does feel more energetic. But it doesn’t ever feel like a powertrain designed to be driven enthusiastically. Under hard braking it can occasionally select a lower gear too early, and there is also a delay when waiting for a kickdown if you ask for a sudden burst of acceleration.
Should I buy one?
If you want an automatic model in this segment it’s easily one of the best options. The occasional frustration matters little given that the gearbox works well in normal, everyday situations.
With the start-stop included it brings running costs down to very tempting levels, and if you can forgive it the delayed engine re-start and the other niggling faults that the Mito suffers from, it makes for one of the most desirable and interesting auto models in the class.
Alfa Romeo Mito 1.4 TB MultiAir 135 ALFA TCT Lusso
Price: £16,295; Top speed: 129mph; 0-62mph: 8.2sec; Economy: 51.4mpg; Co2: 128g/km; Kerb weight: 1170kg; Engine type: 4cyl, in-line, 1368cc, turbocharged, petrol; Power: 133bhp at 5250rpm; Torque: 152lb ft at 1750rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd dual-clutch auto