Alfa Romeo MiTo 1.4 TB Veloce Ambleside
Alfa Romeo MiTo 1.4 TB Veloce
Charged with tempting buyers away from the MINI, Alfa Romeo’s MiTo aims to be fashionable, fun and affordable. It’s a tall order, and although we’ve warmed to the Italian model’s charms in previous tests, it can’t quite match the appeal of its British rival. Will it enjoy more success against the latest SEAT?
On paper, it looks unlikely, as the Alfa doesn’t offer anywhere near as much clever technology as the Cupra. Where the Ibiza has a complex twin-charging arrangement, the MiTo makes do with a simple turbo.
Yet because the company has kept engine capacity down to 1.4 litres and used forced induction, the MiTo emits 153g/km and promises combined economy of 43.5mpg.
These figures aren’t far behind those of the highly advanced Ibiza, so is there really such an advantage to the SEAT’s set-up? The answer comes when you compare the power outputs – the Alfa engine trails by 23bhp, with 155bhp. So, at the test track, we weren’t surprised to see a sizeable performance gap between our two contenders – especially given the sluggish shifts provided by the MiTo’s six-speed manual transmission when compared to the Ibiza’s DSG.
The Alfa managed the sprint from 0-60mph in 8.3 seconds – that’s a massive 1.5 seconds slower.
At least the Italian model shares its rival’s zest for revs, spinning freely to its red line. Thanks to its healthy 230Nm peak torque figure, it feels punchy in every gear, too. The engine is traditionally the heart of any great Alfa, and the sentiment remains in the company’s smallest model.
A toggle switch next to the gearlever controls the MiTo’s DNA system (read more about this in Head-to-head: Key points on Page 47). This set-up provides little more than a talking point most of the time, but slot it into Dynamic mode and the MiTo is sharp and accurate to drive.
As with the Ibiza, the front tyres are more likely to push wide if you enter a corner too quickly than in a full-on hot hatch. Yet if you lift off the power mid-bend, the nose still tucks in like that of a true hot hatch. Ultimately, the Alfa’s chassis is the more rewarding.
From the driver’s point of view, what sets these cars apart most of all is their transmissions. Ordinarily, we’d prefer the feel of a conventional foot-operated clutch, but the Alfa’s gearbox is vague and its left pedal has a long throw – which hands
the advantage to the SEAT’s DSG set-up.
This mechanical difference goes some way to explaining why the MiTo weighs in at £500 less than the Ibiza, with a price of £15,495. Yet the classy look and feel of the Alfa could have you mistakenly thinking it’s the more expensive of the two – and that alone could sway many buyers.