Date:31 August 2009
Alfa Romeo Mito
Rekindling memories of the spunky Alfasud of the 1970s, the MiTo ladles on the Italian style – with an injection of good old-fashioned brio.
There’s a devilish uphill right-hander on the handling track at Gerotek, near Pretoria that can cause lesser cars to bog down or threaten to run wide and blunder off-road. Not only does the MiTo track unerringly right, it also kicks upward sharply to follow the road with genuine grip and pace. A punchy turbocharged 1,4-litre engine makes a good starting point. Some of the cool specs:
Q2, an electronic “diff-lock” system. In a corner, Q2 brakes the inner wheel, directing torque to the outer wheel to provide, Alfa says, up to 1 g cornering force.
DST (Dynamic Steering Torque). Applies a mild corrective torque input via the steering’s electric power assistance to avoid a skid or ensure the car stays on track.
DNA. Clicking a console-mounted switch flips the MiTo into one of three different performance modes. Engine, brakes, steering, suspension and gearbox are recalibrated for either sporty (Dynamic), town driving (Normal), or difficult-grip conditions (All weather).
In N, the MiTo feels decidedly frisky, though the ride is relentlessly firm. When you go from N to D, that aspect doesn’t improve, and the steering stiffens noticeably.
If you like to be involved in driving your car, there’s much to like about the MiTo. It also stands out from the rash of compact lookalikes. At R228 500, the MiTo is running with some fast company, most notably the Mini Cooper. Time will tell whether Italian brio has what it takes to triumph over one of this era’s style icons.