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Driven: Alfa MiTo mid-life update arrives

Mi and you: Alfa Romeo’s updated MiTo features the inclusion of the Chrysler Group’s Uconnect multimedia system along with other minor changes.

Series 2 MiTo introduces base Alfa Romeo TwinAir from $22,500 plus on-roads


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14 Jan 2014

ALFA ROMEO has introduced a new base variant of its MiTo city car that is powered by Fiat’s tiny 0.9-litre two-cylinder engine, bringing the entry price of its range-opener down by $2700.

The MiTo Series 2 range arrives in local Alfa showrooms this month from $22,500 plus on-road costs for the entry-level six-speed manual-only TwinAir, making it the cheapest Alfa Romeo available in Australia for some time.

This same engine is available in a number of other models under the Fiat Chrysler umbrella, including the just-launched Fiat Panda light hatch.

The price of the Panda Easy variant with the TwinAir engine when matched with the Dualogic automated-manual transmission matches the $22,500 price-tag of the base MiTo.

Opting for the same engine in the retro-inspired Fiat 500 hatch in Lounge guise with the Dualogic transmission costs $20,300 plus on-roads, undercutting the MiTo and the Panda by $2200.

Moving from base to the mid-spec MiTo is the Progression that at $24,500 carries a $700 price drop, while matching it with Alfa’s six-speed TCT dual-clutch transmission adds $2000 over the manual for a price of $26,500.

Alfa has increased the price of the Distinctive by $600 to $28,000, making it the new range-topper until the arrival later in the year of the updated 125kW/250Nm MiTo Quad Verde warm-hatch.

Local parent company Fiat Chrysler Group Australia cut prices across the Alfa Romeo and Fiat line-ups in February last year, with between $4990 and $6790 coming off the little light hatch.

Since then, sales have grown by 120 per cent year-on-year, with 352 MiTos finding homes in Australia last year compared with 160 in 2012. This has lifted the MiTo to second place for overall sales in the ‘light car over $25,000’ segment behind Peugeot’s 208 hatch with 996 sales for the year.

While it is a significant lift for the Italian-built runabout, it is still well off the sales of its larger sibling – the Giulietta – sale of which were up 220 per cent last year, to 1949 units to the end of December.

Along with the change to pricing, the mid-life update brings subtle styling changes, including a chrome surround for the grille, updated styling to the head and tail-light fittings of the base model and Progression and chrome surrounds for the tail-lights on the Distinctive.

A new colour – Magnesio Grey – is also available with matte finish, and there are new alloy wheel designs for all three variants.

Powering the base variant is the award-winning 0.9-litre two-cylinder TwinAir engine delivering 77kW of power and 145Nm of torque, matched solely with a six-speed manual transmission for a zero to 100km/h time of 11.4 seconds.

All other variants feature the 1.4-litre four-cylinder MultiAir turbo engine, producing 99kW/206Nm that can do the 0-100km/h dash in 8.4 seconds when matched with the five-speed manual and 8.2 seconds with the TCT dual-clutch transmission.

All variants are fitted with Alfa’s DNA system which adjusts the steering and transmission in one of three modes – Dynamic for more immediate acceleration, Neutral for day-to-day driving and All-weather that maximises traction in poor weather conditions.

In 1.4-litre manual guise, the MiTo consumes 5.6 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres on the combined cycle, and 5.5L/100km with the dual-clutch, while the tiny TwinAir sips just 4.2L/100km, matching the figures of the Fiat Panda.

Interior upgrades are similarly subtle, with the main addition being the Uconnect infotainment multimedia system which is found in most Jeep and Chrysler products.

The system features a five-inch colour touchscreen, access to Bluetooth phone and audio and other media functions as well as displaying outside temperature, trip information and a digital clock and features hands-free controls on the multi-function steering wheel.

Music devices and media players can also be connected using the USB and auxiliary jack. The Uconnect system – standard across the MiTo range – has a six-speaker stereo.

Three cloth seat trim colour combinations are available in the base and Progression variants (black, black/white and black/bronze), while the Distinctive grade can be optioned with grey/black trim and either grey or red inserts.

Leather trim is available as an option in the Distinctive and an electric sunroof can be optioned on any variant.

Despite the standard five-inch touchscreen, sat-nav is not available on any MiTo variant, nor is a reversing camera.

Standard gear on the base MiTo includes a chrome plated exhaust, electric windows, manual air conditioning, cruise control, split-fold rear seat, leather steering wheel, steering wheel audio and phone controls and idle stop.

Moving up to the Progression adds a Visibility Pack that includes rain-sensing wipers, auto headlights and a auto-dimming rear-view mirror, rear parking sensors and Alfa’s adaptive suspension.

The Distinctive features all the equipment in the Progression as well as fog-lights, red stitching on the leather steering wheel and dual-zone climate control.

Cargo space in the MiTo is 270 litres, less than that in competitors such as the Peugeot 208 (311), Renault Clio (300) and Citroen DS3 (285).

Safety wise, the MiTo carries a five-star ANCAP crash safety rating, seven airbags, hill-hold assist and seatbelt reminders, along with the usual list of acronyms such as ABS, ESC and ESP.

2014 Alfa Romeo MiTo pricing*
Progression (a)$26,500 (a)
Distinctive (a)$28,000 (a)
*Excludes on-road costs.

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