I was a raw young hack back in the early ‘70s when the revolutionary Alfasud was new. But I can vividly remember the excitement and speculation it caused. It was entirely new territory for Alfa, which until then had specialised in elegant-but-expensive rear-driven saloons and roadsters.
The ‘Sud was made in a new factory near Naples, an area with no history of car-building, and it featured a flat-four engine turning the front wheels – a powertrain with absolutely no relationship with any other Alfa. It also ditched all others norms in the small front-drive class, and everyone knew it was a mighty risk. They made 560,000 cars between 1972 and 1982, but never made a cent of profit.
This new Alfa Mito supermini, just announced, holds the same kind of excitement for me, but for entirely different reasons. This time, we know the car will work. It uses modern and well proven underpinnings, but its ‘Alfaness’ is in the hands of a newly invigorated team that know it has to make this baby Alfa very different from a Fiat or a Lancia (or a Vauxhall Corsa, which also uses many elements of its chassis).