Alfa Romeo MiTo QV: Driven

If the Giulietta flagship has a tough job in its hot hatch market segment, the MiTo Quadrifoglio Verde arguably faces an even sterner test. Between the Fiesta ST, 208 GTI, Clio 200, Mini Cooper S and Polo GTI a fairly formidable opposition competes against the Alfa.

Prettier from this angle, no?
Prettier from this angle, no?
Initial impressions are mostly encouraging. The optional Sabelt seats clench where they should and the steering wheel adjusts nicely. You're perched a little too high perhaps but it's a decent driving position. It at least helps stave off a glance toward the centre of the dash, where a sat-nav screen that's too small and dated ventilation controls draw the attention. Compared to the slick and contemporary Mini the MiTo feels a couple of generations behind.

But there are positives to note on the road. The turn in is quite keen, the MiTo feeling agile at corner entry. The ride doesn't feel dissimilar to the Fiesta's in fact, pretty stiff but without crashing too much.

But for a junior hot hatch, and an Italian one at that, the MiTo QV just isn't much fun. Attach whichever cliche desired about Alfa's dynamic prowess from the past and it simply doesn't apply to the latest Cloverleaf.

Far from brilliant in here sadly
Far from brilliant in here sadly
Often the appearance of a rather awkward looking Alfa Romeo (75, 146, SZ) could be overlooked thanks to an inspirational engine. Unfortunately for the MiTo even that isn't valid. The 1.4 MultiAir turbo is torquey enough but it can't compare with a Mountuned Fiesta ST for any-rev punch. Despite peak power being produced at 5,500rpm, there's little incentive to chase higher revs as doing so amplifies a fairly flat, uninspiring sound.

As in the Giulietta, the TCT dual clutch 'box in the QV is competent yet unremarkable. The shift speed is fine but what would be wrong with a little drama? It needn't be as outlandish as something like an A45 but using the gearbox for a little aural excitement wouldn't go amiss. A piercing beep whenever it decides a downchange is inappropriate compounds the impression of the MiTo being rather strait-laced.

MiTo struggles to justify Β£20K on the road
MiTo struggles to justify Β£20K on the road
The MiTo's innate balance is towards understeer, which it would be silly to criticise. But it's the car's obstinate refusal to do anything other than push straight on at the limit that makes it frustrating to drive hard. There's little willingness to tighten cornering line with a lift, leave alone any of the Fiesta's oversteer antics. A non switchable ESP would prevent any exploration of that anyway.

If anything the MiTo's staid nature is harder to excuse than in the Giulietta. That car will inherently be a little more mature, so why can't the smallest Alfa just have an edge too it? In a class that contains the hilariously engaging Fiesta and super talented Cooper S, the MiTo will struggle to compete. Indeed at more than Β£20,000 it ranks with the junior hot hatch also rans.

1,368cc 4-cyl turbo
Transmission: 6-speed TCT dual-clutch auto
Power (hp): 170@5,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 184@2,500rpm (Dynamic mode only, 170 in Normal/All Weather)
0-62mph: 7.3 seconds
Top speed: 136mph
Kerbweight: 1,170kg
MPG: 52.3mpg (NEDC combined)
CO2: 124g/km
Price: Β£20,210





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Comments (58) Join the discussion on the forum

  • dukebox9reg 03 Jul 2014

    i think id take the Clio if I wanted paddles in a small hatch at this level. Alfa need to sort themselves out or they will be cut off as a dead limb soon. I think the next gen will be its last chance.

  • TNH 03 Jul 2014

    Still a good looking motor, but I wouldnt be able to drive past the Ford dealership if I was buying this sort of car.

  • Alfahorn 03 Jul 2014

    dukebox9reg said:
    i think id take the Clio if I wanted paddles in a small hatch at this level. Alfa need to sort themselves out or they will be cut off as a dead limb soon. I think the next gen will be its last chance.
    Alfa are on life support and the prospects aren't good in my opinion. In the earlier days of FIAT control there were still some high points; 164, 156, GTV and then the GTA models, however since it has been below average fare.

    I've got a Giulietta, primarily because it's a nice place to be and it's a daily driver, the other options in this segment didn't appeal to me. However, reliability is regretfully poor as is build quality. For the first time in 12 years I'm questioning whether my next car will be an Alfa sadly.

  • AlexHat 03 Jul 2014

    I have the pre facelift Cloverleaf/QV and sat in this 'new' one at Goodwood...aside from the new radio/nav system its the same car as mine which is a 2008 design.

    When I bought mine (used at 18 months old) new QV's were around £18,000 and MiTo's in general weren't flying out the showrooms, so I can't see this doing any better against more competition.

    They're going to become a great bargain a year or so down the line, but that assumes people will buy new.

  • W124 03 Jul 2014

    Lord I hope the next gen cars are good. I drove the 4C and it is a wonderful thing! My notes on the older Mito are thus "utterly and unequivocally awful" - IMHO nothing gets close to the ST in this class. I have a feeling the forthcoming naughty 208 will be a great car though.

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