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Week at the wheel: Alfa Romeo MiTo 1.3 JTDm. Image by Alfa Romeo.

Week at the wheel: Alfa Romeo MiTo 1.3 JTDm
A small diesel isn't the most chic heart for Alfa's stylish city car, but it's appealingly sensible.

 



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| Week at the Wheel | Alfa Romeo MiTo JTDm |

Inside & Out: star star star star star

Now that the Audi A1 has come along, the MiTo had dropped to fourth (of just four contenders) in the premium city car ambience stakes (the MINI and Fiat 500 complete the list, of course). The issue is that, when you dig a little deeper and poke around a bit, the Alfa feels flimsy. The velvety, soft touch material swathing the dash top is nice, but it can't quite hide less impressive underpinnings.

The driving position is hampered by a wheel that seems set too high, though it's a roomy car, for its size, and can accommodate four averagely sized adults (at a squeeze). More than can be said of the MINI or Fiat 500.

Engine & Transmission: star star star star star

The 1.3-litre JTDm engine has 95bhp and 147lb.ft, which in a car of this size is reasonable. And that's all it feels, never quite having the low-end surge you might want from a diesel whose peak pulling power comes at just 1,500rpm. It makes quite a racket as well, both at idle and when pressed.

Unusually for a modern five-speeder, though, the gearbox doesn't feel like it needs another cog, with well-spaced ratios that enable a settled motorway cruise. It's not as precise as the MINI's, but you probably expected that, right?

Most importantly however, the combination (with standard start-stop) offers 65.7mpg and a VED-shy 112g/km.

Ride & Handling: star star star star star

All versions of the MiTo get the D.N.A. switch that remaps the throttle, steering assistance and traction control. It works, for sure, but it does so with a sort of dynamic sledgehammer blow, adding obvious steering resistance and turning the throttle into an on/off switch. It's fun, but it doesn't fundamentally alter the character of a car that can't match the MINI's poise, grip and involvement.

The issue is mainly steering feel, of which there isn't much. Additionally, the car bounces over road ruts rather than smothering them. It's not uncomfortable, nor necessarily too firm, but it's just not very settled down. Still, the Alfa is fun to drive because it feels short and sharp.

Equipment, Economy & Value for Money: star star star star star

The MiTo is cheaper and better equipped than the MINI, but not by as much as you'd think. The difference, though, is that it feels the bigger car, with more boot and cabin space. Junior and Turismo versions appear to suffer from sub-premium paucity, lacking alloy wheels, but all cars get air conditioning. Starting at 12,000 without options, the MiTo is far from a budget city car.

And like its two rivals, real money can be spent (and fun had) with the options list, with cost accessories including coloured dashboards, mirror caps, headlamp surrounds and the usual stuff like satnav and parking sensors; buy a Cloverleaf and it's possible to make a 20k MiTo. Ouch.

Overall: star star star star star

It's easy to like the Alfa MiTo because it backs up its unquestionable style with substance. Notably, it feels spacious, has a reasonable boot and an impressively frugal engine range. This 1.3-litre JTDm diesel isn't the most refined, but its costs are distinctly non-premium. All-in-all, a decent package, but not as sophisticated as the Audi A1 or involving as the MINI.

Mark Nichol - 20 Dec 2010









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2010 Alfa Romeo MiTo specifications: (1.3 JTDm (95 bhp) Lusso)
Price: 14,780 on-the-road.
0-62mph: 11.6 seconds
Top speed: 112mph
Combined economy: 65.7mpg
Emissions: 112g/km
Kerb weight: 1150kg

Full technical specifications

2010 Alfa Romeo MiTo. Image by Alfa Romeo.2010 Alfa Romeo MiTo. Image by Alfa Romeo.2010 Alfa Romeo MiTo. Image by Alfa Romeo.2010 Alfa Romeo MiTo. Image by Alfa Romeo.2010 Alfa Romeo MiTo. Image by Alfa Romeo.

2010 Alfa Romeo MiTo. Image by Alfa Romeo.2010 Alfa Romeo MiTo. Image by Alfa Romeo.2010 Alfa Romeo MiTo. Image by Alfa Romeo.2010 Alfa Romeo MiTo. Image by Alfa Romeo.2010 Alfa Romeo MiTo. Image by Alfa Romeo.



2010 Alfa Romeo MiTo. Image by Alfa Romeo.
 

2010 Alfa Romeo MiTo. Image by Alfa Romeo.
 

2010 Alfa Romeo MiTo. Image by Alfa Romeo.
 

2010 Alfa Romeo MiTo. Image by Alfa Romeo.
 

2010 Alfa Romeo MiTo. Image by Alfa Romeo.
 

2010 Alfa Romeo MiTo. Image by Alfa Romeo.
 

2010 Alfa Romeo MiTo. Image by Alfa Romeo.
 






 

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