Back in 2008, Alfa Romeo debuted the Mito, a spanking new B-segment supermini that would package all the great stuff about Alfa into a compact car with a low entry price into the Alfa range. The Mito was Alfa’s answer to the MINI, but the high-end supermini segment has since burgeoned to include the likes of the Audi A1 and the recently rebranded DS3.
2008 seems an awful long time ago and Mito is now on its second facelift, the first being for the 2014 model. So the Mito is ageing but Alfa has been doing a little refurbishment to give it a chance to still compete.
Luckily they haven’t messed too much with the design. The Mito has an instantly arresting presence, with a design inspired by the 8C Competizione sports car. The styling is classic Alfa in miniature and the signature Alfa deep plunging V-shaped grille, offset number plate and circular rear lights with LEDs ensure that the Mito will not be mistaken for one of its rivals. There is new mesh in the grille, a dark finish to the headlamp bezels, a revised rear bumper design and new alloy wheels, as well as a new Alfa White paint option.
With all that style and drama on the outside, getting into the Mito is a bit of a let-down. Style matters so much in this segment but the Mito is much more generic inside and lacks any great distinctive style. Infotainment is provided via a touchscreen that does work well in the centre of the dash. Alfa has updated the seat upholsteries and added a new finish to the centre console, dashboard and door trims and in its favour, the interior does appear very well built.
The Mito is three door only so it can be awkward to get in and out of the back. But once back there, the space is generous enough for this size and design of car and there are three seatbelts. At 270 litres the boot is about average for a supermini, but the load lip is very high.
A high-end supermini like the Mito must be good to drive and it’s clear that Alfa has worked to create a sporty character for the Mito, but with varying levels of success. The first clue that the Mito might have sporty aspirations is the ride – it’s very firm so you are always aware of the suspension reacting to the changes in the road surface underneath you, and most bizarrely, even when the road ahead looks quite smooth the Mito still manages to pitch.
The up side of all this firmness is that the Mito has excellent body control through corners and resists understeer to make it a nicely flingable play thing in corners. The steering could be better though – it’s okay but a bit too light and vague to be fully engaging.
Help is at hand though in the shape of the DNA driving mode selector. In Dynamic mode (‘D’) there is extra weight in the steering and that makes the Mito much more fun and engaging through a series of corners as there is a greater feeling of resistance against the tarmac when you turn the wheel. And it also makes the throttle response considerably more lively and exciting.
In terms of engines, there’s a 1.4-litre petrol engine with 78hp, a Twinair two cylinder turbo petrol with 105hp, a 1.4-litre turbo petrol with 140hp or a 1.3-litre diesel with 95hp. My test car had the 1.3-litre diesel and it is very economical with low emissions. But it is quite a noisy engine and lacks the sort of refinement that you’d expect from an expensive supermini like the Mito. When it’s warmed up, the edge is taken off the crudeness, but you are still very much aware of it. Unless you do high mileage, you’re probably better off with one of the 1.4-litre petrols.
Petrol Mitos start from €18,295 and diesels from €20,545 with three trim levels – an entry model, Super and Super Sport. Standard equipment includes, aircon, 5” touchscreen with Bluetooth, 16″ alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, satin chrome-effect exterior detailing (door handles, grille surrounds, headlamp and tail lamp surrounds) and a rear spoiler.
Super adds cruise control, 17″ alloys, alarm, front fog lamps, special upholstery with Eco-Leather side bolstering, aluminium sports pedals, footrest and kickplates, chrome effect window sills, and a space-saver spare wheel.
Alfa Romeo Ireland is now offering the top Super Sport trim for just €171 more than Super and it adds red brake callipers, leather upholstery, heated front seats, dual zone climate control, 60/40 split folding rear seats and rear privacy glass.
The Alfa Romeo Mito has some tough competition and it does fall short in some key areas. The pricing is good compared to direct competitors but the harsh ride and an interior that’s a bit plain and drab do not swing things in the Mito’s favour. That said it’s still a very likeable small car. In the right conditions, and perhaps without the din of a noisy diesel, the Mito can still be a fun small car to drive. The Mito does trade a lot on its looks and the prestige of the Alfa badge, but at this end of the market that really matters, and the Mito is certainly not deprived in that area!
Model tested: Alfa Romeo Mito 1.3 MultiJet 95hp
Price: €22,016 (Range starts at €18,295)
Engine: 1.3-litre turbo diesel
0-100km/h: 12.5 seconds
Claimed economy: 83mpg
CO2 emissions: 89g/km
Tax band: €180 per year