Alfa Romeo MiTo Italian is a small three-door hatchback that has the sort of driving verve and excitement keen drivers just love. Prompt handling, lively engine (in some, see later) and a general feeling of liking to be in the car.
The little Alfa is lovely to look at it and the gorgeous styling, inside and out, makes it stand out from the typically sensible German and upmarket Asian small cars in this market segment.
Marking was poor, however. MiTo was overpriced when introduced here in July 2009 and sales were slow. Prices were trimmed several times in the following years, but the damage had been done and sales didn’t really pick up. So it was withdrawn from sale here early in 2016.
Which was bad news for the importer and dealers but good news for anyone looking for a small Euro car on the secondhand market.
Though it’s sold as a three-door hatch, MiTo’s interior is more coupe like. The front seats have good legroom but some people may find headroom is tight. The back seats are probably better left to kids, as always try for yourself before making a decision.
Boot space is isn’t too bad and the rear seats have a 60:40 split-fold.
When the MiTo first arrived in Australia it was powered by a 1.4-litre turbo-petrol engine in two stages of tune, producing 88 kW in the standard version, and 114 kW in the Sport.
In July 2010 the standard MiTo got the 114 kW unit previously used in the Sport was offered as an option. The basic engine was improved to 99 kW late in 2010.
A much more powerful 125 kW engine, in models called Quadrifoglio and later Quadrifoglio Verde (QV,) was offered from 2010. It has 125 kW of power and 230 Nm of torque. Torque can be temporarily boost to 250 Nm by using the `Dynamic’ mode switch.
A fascinating feature of the little Alfa is the DNA (Dynamic, Normal, All-weather) system. This electronically adjusts the throttle, steering and suspension systems give the baby Alfa quite a different feel on the road depending on the driver’s mood.
We can see the Quadrifoglio and Quadrifoglio Verde picking up in value in years to come. We aren’t suggesting that those who buy now will make a profit, but when it comes to to sell and move up you may lose less than anticipated.
Fiat’s brilliantly-engineered TwinAir two-cylinder 0.9-litre engine was offered in the MiTo in 2014, not many were sold and it may become a bit of an orphan.
Five-speed manual gearboxes were sold with the standard model MiTo in the early days. Six-speed units were used on all others.
Best left alone is the TCT six-speed dual-clutch transmission offered in some cars, slow and cranky at times it really spoils the driving experience. Then again, if you’re doing a lot fo heavy-duty commuting you may be able to live with this auto.
The number of Alfa Romeo dealers has significantly increased in recent years due to the work of an aggressive new Australian team. Almost all Alfa dealers are situated in major metro areas but quite a few Fiat dealers are able to help.
We have heard of no major problems with spare parts availability. Prices tend to be relatively high.
Insurance costs are higher than average, which is hardly a surprise considering the antics of some owners. Shop around but don’t be swayed by price alone.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Make sure the service books are up to date, remembering that time is just as important as distance.
Make sure the camshaft timing belt has been replaced. It has a shorter than average life of just 60,000 km or three years, whichever comes first.
Have the front wheel alignment checked as thumps against kerbs can rearrange it.
Uneven tyre wear is a sign of hard driving, but some cunning sellers may have fitted different tyres before putting the car on sale.
Look for signs of crash repairs. Uneven paint colours, overspray on glass and badges and ripples in the panels are clues. If there’s any doubt have a professional do a full inspection, including a test of chassis alignment.
Make sure the engine starts easily and idles reasonably smoothly, even when cold.
Do some fast gearchanges and listen for protesting rasps and stickiness from the gearbox.
Expect to pay from $5000 to $8000 for a 2009 Alfa Romeo MiTo; $8000 to $12,000 for a 2010 Sport; $10,000 to $15,000 for a 2012 Distinctive or a 2015 Progression; $11,000 to $17,000 for a 2012 Quadrifoglio or a 2015 Progression; ; $12,000 to $17,000 for a 2014 Distinctive; and $14,000 to $20,000 for a 2015 Distinctive.
CAR BUYING TIP
Want something out of the ordinary? Go for it … but be aware that resale and trading-in later may take significantly longer an cost more.