Car: Alfa Romeo Mito Cloverleaf
Owned since: April 2010
Previously owned: uninteresting commuting white goods
I went to test drive the Mito when it first came out, and came away pretty disappointed with the first-generation 155hp turbo. A couple of years later, partly to put my mind at ease and mainly out of spite after the local VW dealer told me that my custom wasn't of any interest, I went to try the Cloverleaf when it came out.
The things I'd disliked on the 155 - sloppy gearbox and unresolved ride - had been sorted. I also remember putting my foot down in third and going from 40 to illegal reasonably quickly, and thinking that this was quite exciting. The turbo also made a pleasing noise on the overrun through the open window.
Not to buy a red one. The 'Alfa Red' paintwork chips with dangerous ease, and Alfa Romeo's customer service department is unwilling to do anything about it. In retrospect I should also have listened to my father when he said it'd depreciate like a stone sinking in water.
Things I love:
The usual Alfa Romeo foibles: the petrol gauge which reads 'benzina', the magnificent little Multiair engine, the asymmetrical 'startled owl' looks, the precise gearbox, the fact that there was a large piece of loose trim in the driver's footwell when I collected it (new) despite the PDI stamp in the service book...
The usual Alfa Romeo foibles: recalls for over-heating plastic-melting headlamps, brittle switchgear, a couple of rattles, the occasional exposed screw-head, my ongoing battle to have the front resprayed, the Stop-Start system which occasionally does one, the other or neither, but rarely both. The DNA system which, when you start the car, reverts to 'normal' mode where the steering is soft and unpleasant, the damping seems to over-bounce (if that makes sense) and the throttle response makes it feel like the turbo fell out.
Oh, and the driving position would benefit from the steering wheel going lower, and the stereo is crap.
Tyres and servicing, and a reasonable amount of unleaded. It will apparently do 40mpg, though I've not noticed. The tracking is easily knocked out of alignment, too.
Where I've been:
I don't drive to work, so the Mito only gets used for pleasant duties. It's also been going to south and central France about four times a year where it sits happily on the motorway at a rapid lick, and it seems ideally suited to the routes nationales where its decent overtaking ability and an awake passenger are all you need to make exciting progress.
It also enjoys the occasional early-morning trip to the quieter corners of the Peak District. I've avoided track days with it as I don't own shares in Michelin.
I've heard that cheeky 200hp upgrades are available, mind you, so are Giulietta Cloverleafs...
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