Overall rating: 3/5
A more powerful engine and improved transmission allow the Alfa Romeo MiTo to be more than just a city car, while exterior and interior revisions give it some fresh appeal.
In the Metal:
When directly compared to the more upmarket end of the A-segment, the Alfa MiTo isn't quite as cute or funky as some of its rivals, but that's not to say that it is a bad looking car. It might not quite as timeless as say the Fiat 500, but with the right specification it can still command plenty of attention. The updates to this new 2014-spec car are slight: a front grille that now has a chrome finish and some updated headlight surrounds are all the changes to the outside. Alfa has updated all of its trim levels though, which sees this higher 'Sportiva' spec benefiting from 18-inch wheels that give the car some added presence.
On the inside, Alfa's designers have made some revisions to the dashboard design that sees higher quality materials being used. In addition, a new five-inch touchscreen infotainment system has been added featuring Bluetooth and optional satellite navigation. The steering wheel houses remote controls for the Bluetooth and infotainment systems, although overall it feels slightly too large for a car of this size. Rear passenger space is limited, as is common in the class, while the boot volume, at 270 litres, is still way bigger than the new MINI's.
The feeling of spaciousness from the driver's seat in the MiTo does help to further the impression that it is a larger car than it really is. Its relatively short wheelbase means it is still quite practical around town, but it is let down somewhat by the ride quality that could be described as busy in most circumstances. Compounding the issue is the fitment of 18-inch alloy wheels to this 'Sportiva' specification, which although looking good, do little to help soften the ride.
On a positive note, the more powerful 105hp TwinAir engine does suit the MiTo very well, delivering sufficient levels of power as well as a great engine note, although that may not be to everyone's taste. The engine's wider power band, combined with a new six-speed gearbox, means that there is less work involved in keeping it ticking along and crucially that extra ratio means that motorway trips are now a less tiring experience. The driving position is good and those who take more than a passing interest in their driving will appreciate the weighted feeling through the car's steering. As with all Alfa Romeos, there is a 'DNA' switch that enables the driver to choose between three different driving modes, all of which alter the characteristic of the car.
What you get for your Money:
Although pricing has risen slightly across the MiTo range, it is a car that still comes reasonably well-equipped. All models are fitted with that new five-inch touchscreen system, which features voice recognition. There's also air conditioning, Bluetooth, USB input and a multi-function steering wheel as standard, and there is a healthy selection of optional extras to choose from too. At the time of writing Alfa Romeo Ireland has not confirmed pricing for the updated line-up.
Buyers will look to the TwinAir engine for its on-paper economy strengths, although it is worth remembering that its 'fruity' engine note and punchy power delivery do mean that you will have to adhere quite stringently to the dashboard display's gear-shift indicator if you want to come close to the quoted fuel economy figures.
The Alfa MiTo is never going to be the default choice when it comes to a town car for buyers, but you get the impression that Alfa isn't trying to be that anyway. The MiTo will suit those that want to be a little bit different to the norm. Now that comes with less compromise.