Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Athens, Greece
Having driven both cars -the Sud extensively since I own one- I say that they ahve some similarities and some differences.
First of all they are NOT of the same category despite their similar dimensions. The Sud was a B-seg car like the VW Golf while the Mito is a glorified and oversized supermini. That's why the Sud was introduced as a 4-door berlinetta while the Mito as a 3-door hatchback. That itself means that the Sud despite its sportive genes was actually a family car, while the Mito -like the Mini ftm- was designed as a small "hot hatch" with a much younger target group.
The Sud was designed from scratch, introducing new design concepts for an Alfa like the Boxer engine, the front inboard brake discs on the driveshafts and the simple yet extremeny well-designed suspension. The Mito was based on an existing floorpan and existing engines -that of Grande Punto- a fact that puts severe limitations to what Alfa engineers could do to turn what is actually a small citycar into a proper small Alfa. The design is unique on both cars for their age, distinguishing them from other cars on the road. But while the Sud was an elegant compact berlinetta the Mito is a somewhat overdesigned small hatch with an eccentric tall and bulbous silhouette and body trim.
The same goes for the engines. The Boxer was designed from scratch with a smooth power delivery throughout the rev band and a distinct raspy exhaust note while the 1.4TB was based on the Pratola Serra (Twin Spark) block, designed with the principles of "downsizing" and supercharged for adequate torque, which makes it lack power on the high rev band, a no-no for an Alfa. The engineers had to put a considerable effort -and succeeded- just to make it remind of its predecessor -the TS- in sound.
Their handling is similar in some aspects. They both corner very well but exhibit the same wobbly behaviour while turning over rough road, because of their rear suspension type. But while the Sud tucks its nose in with power because of its suspension geometry alone, the Mito needs the eQ2 to achieve the same effect. And the steering wheel feels completely different. The Sud's is heavy while the car is stopped and light while moving and very informative, almost chatty while the Mito's one has an artificial feel, with good return force when turned but fuzzy around the straight position and a little dull in feedback.
And for the people who say that the Mito is much faster, you have to keep in mind that needs were very different back then. 100-110HP were sufficient power for a n/a light hot hatch while today hot hatches are not so light anymore and the turbo seems the only way to get adequate power from a small engine.
In conclusion -and trying to keep sentiments apart- the Mito may be a faster car that corners as fast but it lacks some of the character and finesse an Alfa should have and the fact that it is actually a Fiat transformed into an Alfa is evident for people with experience from older Alfas that weren't based that much or at all on Fiats.
Personally I believe that even the 147 is much more of an Alfa than the Mito, despite the worse power-to-weight ratio. The 147's finesse in cornering, while not evident in lap times is something the Mito can only dream of.
"Black holes are where God divided by zero." - Steven Wright