If there is such a thing as a sampler in the automobile industry this must surely be one. In refreshing the MiTo range Alfa Romeo has added a new entry-level model in an attempt to entice new owners into the world of the Alfa enthusiast.

Selling for $22,500, the MiTo 0.9 takes the hatchback into new territory with the 2011 International Engine of the Year, the turbo-petrol, 875cc, two-cylinder TwinAir.

Mated with a snappy six-speed manual transmission, the engine puts out 77 kW of power and 145 Nm of torque while producing the lowest carbon dioxide emissions of any volume petrol engine in the world, 99 grams per kilometre in official European emission testing.

The 0.9 TwinAir joins the 1.4-litre MultiAir motor – 99kW and 206Nm – in two variants, Progression and Distinctive, with either five-speed manual or TCT transmissions, with prices starting at $24,500.

An added attraction across the range is Alfa’s Dynamic / Normal / All-Weather (DNA, get it?) system which adjusts the car’s driving characteristics to suit the driver’s style and road conditions. Switching is via a toggle situated on the centre console.

Dynamic provides instant throttle response and, therefore, rapid acceleration. It also sharpens steering, the electronic stability programme and traction and changes gears at a higher speed on TCT-equipped models.

Natural softens settings for all-round comfort and fuel economy, while All-Weather provides maximum traction in poor weather.

Our 0.9 TwinAir test vehicle exhibited strikingly different characteristics in Dynamic and Natural modes, Dynamic livening up the MiTo no end, while the Natural setting had the car in a languid mood.

The former was accompanied by a racy raspy engine note which belied its cubic capacity, while the latter reined in performance to the extent of it running out of breath quickly climbing even half-steep slopes.

The All-Weather mode offered no test at all in mid-summer conditions in the Sunshine State.

Alfa Romeo makes a point of pushing the fuel consumption barrow for the 0.9 TwinAir, putting the combined figure at 4.2 litres per 100 kilometres. This is presumed to be in the most economical (ie: Natural mode).

The test car in Dynamic range at motorway speeds presented me with consumption over five litres per 100 kilometres, which probably is more relevant to the typical Alfa driver’s style.

On the outside the MiTo Series 2 has been reworked with special reference to the famous 8C Competizione and iconic Giulietta. The well-known Alfa V-shaped radiator grille now features a chrome-plated frame to provide a premium European sports coupe look.

Tail lamps have been updated and the 0.9 TwinAir now rolls on distinctive 15-inch alloy wheels.

The MiTo cabin has been updated with the addition of the Uconnect multi-media system served by a five-inch colour touch screen which provides easy access to radio, phone, media, and settings such as ambient temperature, trip information and fuel consumption.

Bluetooth is on tap with audio streaming transmitting turn-by-turn instructions from smartphone-based navigation apps as well as playing web-based radio stations.

Other instruments and controls are simple and easy-to-reach, seats are supportive, while rear leg room is limited only by the height of the front seat occupants. Boot space, at 270 litres, is limited.

Driver and passengers are protected by a full suite of passive and active safety features including seven airbags, anti-whiplash devices on seats and collapsible steering wheel.

Active safety makes use of Alfa’s adaptive suspension, anti-skid brakes, electronic stability programme, brakes assist, traction control and hill holder.

In engine capacity the Alfa Romeo 0.9 TwinAir might have borrowed from the mower in the garden shed. In appearance and character the new entry-level MiTo has much to appeal to the would-be Alfa Romeo owner.


Alfa Romeo MiTo 0.9 TwinAir Turbo Progression 6-speed manual $22,500
Alfa Romeo MiTo 1.4 MultiAir Turbo Progression 5-speed manual $24,500
Alfa Romeo MiTo 1.4 MultiAir Turbo Progression 6-speed TCT automatic $26,500
Alfa Romeo 1.4 MultiAir Turbo Distinctive 6-speed TCT automatic $28,000
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Alfa Romeo dealer for drive away prices.

ABS Brakes: Standard
Cruise Control: Standard
Dual Front Airbags: Standard
Front Side Airbags: Standard
Driver’s Knee Airbag: Standard
Curtain Airbags, Front and Rear: Standard
Electronic Stability Program: Standard
Smart key with keyless entry
Cruise control: Standard
Alfa DNA system: Standard
Visibility Pack (Automatic headlights, Rain sensing windscreen wipers, Electrochromatic rear view mirror): Standard
Uconnect (five-inch colour touch screen, Bluetooth setup with voice commands and MP3 media player with USB and AUX-in port): Standard
Premium sound system with digital amplifier (9 speakers and subwoofer): Standard
Rear parking sensors: Optional
Sunroof: Optional

SPECIFICATIONS (Alfa Romeo MiTo TwinAir 0.9-litre petrol)

Capacity: 875 cc
Configuration: Two cylinders in line with turbocharger
Compression Ratio: 10.0:1
Bore/Stroke: 80.5 mm x 86.0 mm
Maximum Power: 77 kW @ 5500 rpm
Maximum Torque: 145 Nm @ 2000 rpm

Driven Wheels: Front
Manual Transmission: Six-speed

Length: 4063 mm
Wheelbase: 2521 mm
Width: 1720 mm
Height: 1446 mm
Track: 1483 mm (front), 1475 mm (rear)
Turning Circle: 11.25 m
Kerb weight: 1130 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 45 litres
Boot Capacity: 270 litres

Rear Suspension: MacPherson strut and torsion bar
Brakes: Discs ABS with EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution) and VDC (Vehicle Dynamic Control). Hill Holder.
Steering: Rack and pinion with electric power steering on column

0-100km/h: 11.4 sec
Maximum speed: 184 km/h

Type: Unleaded petrol
Combined Cycle (ADR 81/02): 4.2 L/100km, 99 g/km
Emission rating: Euro 6

15-inch alloy (195/55/R15)

Greenhouse Rating: 9/10
Air Pollution Rating: 7.5/10

About Derek Ogden

On graduating with an honours degree in applied science in London, Derek Ogden worked for the BBC in local radio and several British newspapers as a production journalist and writer. Derek moved to Australia in 1975 and worked as a sub-editor with The Courier Mail and Sunday Mail in Brisbane, moving to the Gold Coast Bulletin in 1980 where he continued as a production journalist. He was the paper's motoring editor for more than 20 years, taking the weekly section from a few pages at the back of the book to a full-colour liftout of up to 36 pages. He left the publication in 2009.
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