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Geneva show: Alfa upgrades MiTo, debuts sat-nav tech

Subtle: Alfa’s changes to its Mini competitor are hard to spot and the new “Bronze” colour scheme won’t be coming to Australia.

No word on rumoured Alfa Geneva concept but existing models get update

17 Feb 2011

ITALIAN automaker Alfa Romeo has announced modest plans for its neighbouring country’s annual motor show, the Salon International de l’Auto in Geneva.

It makes no mention of the widely rumoured, mid-engined ‘4C’ sportscar concept, rather concentrating on a mild MY2011 update to the MiTo and further promoting the Giulietta as well as the debut in those cars of Fiat Group’s Blue&Me-TomTom integrated sat-nav technology.

Alfa says the modestly modified MiTo will offer “new exterior colours and new fabrics for the interiors, the availability of new options and the introduction of technologies to enhance comfort and driving feel”.

It is set to arrive in Australia in the third quarter this year, and will be showcased at Geneva in hot 135kW QV form, fitted with two-tone black and white alloys and carbon-fibre-backed Sabelt sports seats.

Joining the MiTo QV will be a 99kW MiTo fitted with the TCT gearbox and exhibiting Alfa’s new “Bronze Metal” colour scheme – which Australian Alfa importer Ateco has no plans to offer locally – complemented by a two-tone interior featuring black and bronze “Tecnosilk” upholstery.

Representing the Giulietta hatch will the QV and 1.4 TB variants, the latter sporting the TCT twin-clutch automatic transmission that will arrive Down Under on 1.4 petrol and 2.0-litre diesel Giuliettas in July.

26 center imageTop: Alfa Romeo MiTo. Bottom: Alfa Romeo Giulietta.

Blue&Me-TomTom is a development of the Alfa’s existing Bluetooth-based smartphone integration system, extended to work with TomTom’s portable touch-screen satellite navigation units.

A cradle with in-built battery charging terminals emanates from the centre of the MiTo or Giulietta’s dash to accept the 4.3-inch screen TomTom unit, which in addition to providing traditional navigation capability, can offer control of telephone, media player and trip computer functions via Bluetooth.

For example, the telephone keypad can be replicated on the touch screen for easier dialling, as can stored phone contacts and the contents of MP3 players – including iPods – connected via the car’s USB port.

Control is also possible via Alfa’s standard Blue&Me steering wheel buttons and voice commands.

A further feature of the system is designed to help drivers achieve greater fuel economy by displaying fuel consumption levels and offering driving suggestions such as when to change gear or appropriate acceleration for the programmed route. In addition, it will automatically direct the driver to the nearest petrol station when the fuel level reaches reserve.

Adding to the navigation function is “IQ route” technology, which calculates the best route for a given date and time based on traffic statistics.

The TomTom unit can also download map updates and software upgrades when connected to the Internet via a computer using an Alfa-customised application that also feeds in the location of Alfa Romeo service centres.

Alfa Romeo Australia public affairs manager Edward Rowe told GoAuto that MiTos and Giuliettas delivered from Q3 this year will feature the Blue&Me-TomTom cradle as standard but since the TomTom device itself is an aftermarket item, pricing cannot be confirmed.

Mr Rowe did however say that existing owners of TomTom devices will be able to use them with suitably-equipped Alfas once they become available.

While Alfa Romeo has been keeping quiet on the subject, speculation abounds that it about to unveil a “4C” sportscar concept built using lightweight materials driving the rear wheels with a mid-mounted four-cylinder engine from the Giulietta QV.

The rumour-mill also suggests that rather than being a Brera or Spider replacement, it is likely to be a limited-run halo model in the spirit of – but more affordable than – the 8C supercar and that it will herald a new design direction for the Italian marque.

Last year at Geneva, Alfa Romeo sportscar concepts came in the form of Pininfarina’s 2uettottanta and Bertone’s Pandion. In 2009 Alfa proffered a MiTo GTA prototype powered by what later became the Giulietta QV’s 1750cc engine.

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