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Alfa Romeo Mito

 

Feels like you're driving a piece of automotive jewellery...

Woo haa! I've just got back from a blast down a twisting switchback of a road in Alfa Romeo's diminutive Mito, in dynamic mode. Dynamic, as with the throttle, steering and stability control altered for maximum response and golly, was it fun.

Admittedly there are other diminutive cars which are a blast to drive and cheaper; Suzuki's Swift Sport at just over half the price, for example, but it doesn't feel as special as this. There are Minis that do - the Cooper S is almost line-ball in price and power. But then it's just one of several similar cars, its envy-rating dulled by association with more affordable siblings.

If you must have a cut-price Mito you can order one and wait, but why would you? For part of the car's persona is how special it feels.

That aura is almost distinct from the car's performance, and comes from the brand heritage, this Mit's stylish looks and its equally stylish cabin.

That seat fabric, with its three-D wave pleating, stitching and supportive bolsters. The chequerboard look to the soft-touch dash. The glints from hints of chrome, the plentiful switchgear to remind you there's a lot to this car.

It's not all perfection, of course. There's a deep lip to the boot which makes loading awkward. The claimed 6.5l/100km fuel economy may be theoretically available - I averaged close to that figure for the early part of my drive. But fling the car about as she begs to be flung, and you'll register far worse. Several rapid traverses of the tricky hill roads round my office have raised the average to 9.2l/100km. I'm confident a bit of normal driving in comfort mode will bring it back down.

And that's what's so nice about this car. Womble about your daily commute in all-weather or everyday mode, and the motor will quietly go about its business, off boost and drinking very little fuel. Meanwhile you feel like you're driving a piece of automotive jewellery, albeit a small one.

Yet you've still got manic mode in the wings, making the most of the keen-to-rev 1.4-litre turbo, its 114kW, 230Nm easily overpowering the mighty-mote's 1144kg heft.

Fortunately she's nimble enough, without the choppiness you expect from such a small car, though the steering could be a nudge quicker and the ride is definitely firm. You expect that from a performance-oriented car though, nor is the tyre noise unexpected from lowish-profile rubber wrapping the handsome 17-inch alloy wheels.

What did disappoint is how relaxed this motor is in 'normal' mode. Eventually I used it only round town, when stuck in slow traffic or bad weather; otherwise dynamic's increased responsiveness better matched the Mito's character.

As for the rest, there are plenty of goodies as standard, including seven airbags, climate air, responsive Brembo brakes, USB connection and voice-controlled Bluetooth.

Mito isn't perfect and nor is it cheap. But it's an attractive executive toy that feels special - and quick - at real world speeds and in real world conditions, something larger (and pricier) sporty cars often fail to do.

Read more about the Alfa Romeo Mito here.


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