Stylish small premium car that’s ageing gracefully
- Distinctive exterior styling
- Strong performance from most engines
- Turbocharged petrols a highlight
- Space for four adult passengers
- Firm ride on most models
- Interior plastics are hard
- Diesels sap the fun out of it
- High boot sill
The Alfa Romeo Mito is an Italian MINI Hatch rival – a three-door supermini with premium pretentions, sharp Italian styling and plenty of flair for the fashion-conscious car buyer.
Interior doesn’t match the exterior
Despite the promising exterior, things become a bit more disappointing when you jump inside the Mito. A harsh ride, poor noise insulation, lack of cabin storage space and interior quality that falls short of the standards of its rivals all conspire to spoil the experience.
The various different plastics used throughout the interior feel cheap and low-quality, as do the minor controls and switchgear.
DNA driving modes
A key ingredient in the way the Mito drives is its DNA system. It comprises of three driving modes selected via a switch ahead of the gear lever: Dynamic, Normal and All-weather.
They change the power steering, engine and traction control settings, among other factors, and the car feels markedly different depending on which mode is selected. Engine response, for instance, is much more immediate in Dynamic mode, which also makes the steering far heavier.
Depending on your point of view, it’s either a fun gadget or a frustrating system that makes you wish Alfa had picked one optimum setting and stuck with it rather than offering several compromised choices. Or, failing that, a fourth option that lets you select your own individual settings from the options available.
On the whole, though, the Mito is a sharp little car to drive, with quick responses through the steering and well-contained body roll. It doesn’t feel quite like an Alfa should, however: it suffers with a firmer ride than almost all of its most direct rivals, which sullies the experience somewhat.
Throughout its life, the Mito has been subject to several tweaks to keep it fresh and up-to-date, most notably with what’s under the bonnet.
A year after its launch Alfa raised the bar with its MultiAir petrol models. Incorporating new technology that makes it run more efficiently, the Mito was given more power, lower emissions and improved fuel economy.
There was also the introduction of the sporty 170hp Cloverleaf model – a return of an iconic performance badge, that has since been discontinued. To say the Mito range with all its comings and goings is confusing would be an understatement.
Fiat’s clever two-cylinder TwinAir petrol engine debuted in 2012, as featured in the smaller 500, producing more power than its naturally-aspirated alternatives and boasting much-improved fuel economy claims and lower emissions.
In autumn 2013, Alfa announced a range of updates including a touchscreen multimedia system and a new version of the TwinAir engine with 105hp.
The Mito also got a bit of makeup with some extra chrome detailing outside on some models, and black mesh on others, tinted rear windows and a different finish for the headlights together with new seat fabrics and dashboard colour schemes.
The Parkers verdict
Buyers who opt for the Mito over its rivals can be confident of owning a car that's far less common, more attractively priced and better equipped as well as more practical.
Couple that with strong resale values and affordable lease and running costs and it's clear that this is the first small Alfa in a very long time that appeals to both the heart and the head.
However, the inside of the Mito hasn’t aged as well as the outside, making it feel quite dated when you jump behind the wheel, especially when compared with the MINI. The driving experience also doesn’t quite match up to the likes of the MINI or Audi A1.
Should this premium supermini be on your shopping list? Read the full Parkers Alfa Romeo Mito Hatchback review to find out
What owners say about this car
I have the 1300 diesel version so it's not that powerful, pulls well in dynamic mode, maybe Alfa should have... Read owner review
Wouldn't buy the 8v again, it's rather slow. Would buy a turbo one happily. The wee car is great to... Read owner review
Bought a Cloverleaf Mito due to it being different from the competition, liked the looks and the one I bought... Read owner review