When you first look at the MiTo Sport, you’ll notice it doesn’t look particularly, well, sporty. Apart from the powder-coated red calipers, and the dual exit muffler, nothing really calls out “Power…SPEED!” Not saying it doesn’t look nice, of course. The MiTo possesses the inherent beauty most Alfa owners can attest to. Italy’s obsession with fashion and looks oozes out of every sleek, chic line. It’s head down tail up stance and obvious wheel arches reflect on Italy’s racing history, while not overshadowing the refining qualities of the car. The inside of the car however, tells a different story.
Once you get through the 2-tonne doors (A necessity I suppose, as a 3 door, they contribute to the cars stability) you step into an entirely different world. After placing yourself in the surprisingly comfortable and accommodating driver seat (I’m 6ft 1, the car is barely any longer), you set your eyes upon your indicator panel. Believe it or not, but the dash provides you with the usual information, speed, revs, water temp and fuel. The LED screen down the bottom gives you the time and kilometres (or miles) travelled. The dash is faux leather embossed with a Carbon fibre pattern. This isn’t my favourite part of the car, it seems a bit try-hard to me, but it is more than made up for by the landscape of the entire panel.
Looking through the windscreen, vision is limited, but you get used to it after about 5 minutes of driving. Vision out the back however, is consistently poor. Double that with the fact that every time the car is put into reverse, the rear windscreen wiper automatically starts. Parking sensors are a must. Backseat space is, shall we say, limited. If you’re a kid, or tiny adult (like my mother) you should be fine, if you’re shepherding around mates, dates or crates on a regular basis, I suggest you invest in a vehicle slightly larger than a matchbox.
This small size, on the other hand, helps to create rather impressive performance. The engine is a 1.4 L turbocharged four, putting out around 120 kilowatts. It will get you to 100 in less than 8 seconds, which, while meagre in comparison to most sixes, is still an impressive feat for a tiny engine. For driving enthusiasts, the only way to head around town is with the car in ‘Dynamic’ mode, turned on by a button between your leg and the gearstick. It decreases the response time between the accelerator and the engine and stiffens up the suspension, as well as showing you the compression of the Turbo on the LED screen. It feels faster. You can see where the sport label comes from.
The MiTo is front wheel drive, which means a bit of torque steer when you accelerate quickly, and means its a bit heavy around corners at high speeds. Revving just a little bit too high before releasing the clutch will give you a bit of wheel spin, but this is quickly corrected. Rev-heads in this car will have to get used to the smell of burning rubber. The car performs well at all speeds; it’s 6 speed gearbox allowing the MiTo to cruise easily at any speed.
It has a surprising amount of torque in higher gears so overtaking on the highway is no problem, unless the car your trying to pass is driven by Sebastian Vettel. The shifter looks like it should, silver, racy and complimented by a leather cover. It can be a bit rubbery and elastic through the gears, which takes some getting used to, but with practice you tend not to notice it.
All in all the car is good. There are some things that need to change. With the size of the bonnet, the engine could be a 1.8. Leather should be standard in the interior. It’s a reasonably expensive Italian car, and it should feel like one. The car build is complicated, even if you are relatively experienced. For instance, to change a headlight, you have to pull off the entire front bumper. Not cool Alfa.
These niggley tidbits, I believe, are compensated by the sheer surprise you get when you put your foot down the first time. It will more than hold it’s own against a reasonably powerful six, and look good doing it. It’s comfortable (in the front), relatively fuel efficient (in ‘Normal’ mode), it sounds good and drives well. If you’re looking for a hatch, consider the MiTo.