Mito performance boosted by Cloverleaf
What marks this car out as being different from the Mito that I drove previously is the big Cloverleaf (or Quadrifoglio in Italian) triangle on its flanks. The cloverleaf first entered Alfa Romeo’s history in 1923 when a lucky cloverleaf was presented to the Alfa Romeo drivers before the Targa Florio. From there the cloverleaf went on to become the symbol for competition Alfas, before being used more recently to designate higher performance models.
The analogy would be that, as Cooper is to Mini, Cloverleaf is to Alfa Romeo.
Providing the performance for the Cloverleaf version is the FPT 1.4 Turbo engine. It features Fiat’s clever MultiAir technology. MultiAir directly controls the engine’s intake air without a conventional throttle valve. This technology is combined with electronic management of the inlet valves. The results, say Fiat, are that fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are both reduced by up to 10%, at the same time as increasing the power by 10% and torque by 15%.
The power output is impressive. The Mito Cloverleaf delivers 170 bhp. At 1.4-litres, that works out at a very creditable 124 bhp per litre.
So much for the theory, but there is only way to check out a performance hatchback and that is on the road.
Like the previous Mito the 'Alfa DNA' switch (inconveniently located behind the gearlever) makes a difference to the driving. On the Cloverleaf it is even more marked. Drive off with the Mito in the ‘normal’ setting and you will probably be decidedly underwhelmed. The throttle pedal feels quite wooden in its responses.... or lack of responses.
Press the switch to ‘dynamic’ (holding it momentarily until it engages) and the Mito Cloverleaf is transformed. The ‘dynamic’ mode re-maps the throttle settings and also adjusts the dampers, the traction control and the boost pressure from the turbo. This feels better!
Conversely, you can switch the DNA control the other way and you have an ‘all-weather’ setting, that calms down the responses and the power to keep you from losing traction in slippery conditions – not something I was able to test in the middle of summer.
The interior ambience of the Mito is good with the carbon-fibre pattern on the dashboard being both distinctive and sporty. I would give credit to Alfa Romeo for sticking with conventional ignition key and a conventional handbrake. Hallelujah! Other manufacturers please note, buttons and electronic handbrakes are usually not so easy to use.
As I noted in the previous test, the steering wheel could do with coming lower and there is only just enough legroom if you use a straighter-leg lower seat setting. I also felt the seats lacked a little in lateral support for a sporting model like this. If you indulge in spirited driving you are constantly having to hitch yourself back into the seat.
In the more responsive Dynamic mode the Mito Cloverleaf becomes quite a sporting machine, hugging the tarmac and eagerly attacking each corner.
The chassis set up seems better than the previous Mito, but, I still felt there was a bit of restlessness about the way it rides. I found myself working reasonably hard to keep up with the way the Mito moves around on the road.
The combined fuel consumption is quoted at 47.1 mpg. But the reality is that any enthusiastic driver will want to run the Mito Cloverleaf in ‘dynamic’ all the time, such is the transformation that it offers. So, you simply have to accept that the headline economy figure will take a hit.
My real time average over my time with the Mito Cloverleaf was 28 mpg.
Carbon dioxide emissions of 139 g/km put the MiTo Cloverleaf into band E, a band below its rival Mini Cooper S. Acceleration 0-62 mph takes 7.5 seconds, 0.5 seconds slower than the Cooper S.
The price of the Alfa Romeo MiTo MultiAir TB170 bhp Cloverleaf is £17,885.00.