On the road: Alfa Mito 1.4TB | Technology | The Guardian
At the risk of sounding crassly sexist (this is a car column, after all), it's fair to say that men and women have differing responses to gadgets. It may, of course, all be due to patriarchal conditioning, but on the whole women seem to be less impressed by additional knobs, levers and buttons. Whereas with many men it's the knobs that make all the difference.
Take, for example, the "DNA" switch in the Alfa MiTo 1.4 TB Veloce. It's a little silver toggle just in front of the gear stick. How many women will look at it and think, "I can't wait to twiddle that"? Certainly none of the women who rode shotgun with me in the MiTo commented on the shiny knob, perhaps because they were distracted by the fetching dashboard design and the groovy, contoured lines that lend the interior a dazzling sense of Italian style.
Call me a closet metrosexual, but I felt much the same incuriosity about the DNA switch. Did I really need some kind of molecular makeover, I wondered? On closer inspection, it turned out it doesn't in fact trigger a wholesale atomic transformation. Instead, it merely adapts the throttle and steering response for changed conditions: Dynamic, Normal and All Weather.
In practice, they're differences without a great deal of distinction. It's not as if you suddenly blast off into hyperspace with one setting and settle into pipe and slippers with another. And anyway, if you're going to get an Alfa, it's not because you're interested in normality or meteorology. It's all about dynamic appeal.
Happily, the MiTo has plenty of that. The name is a conjunction of Milan, the home of Alfa Romeo's design centre, and Torino, the factory HQ. It certainly looks like a satisfying combination of cool, Milanese style and compact, Torinese efficiency - at least from the front.
From the rear, it's much less impressive, and even the bold LED lights and cutaway bottom can't quite disguise the fact that it's just another small hatchback. The effect is a slight sense of unfinished business, as if the purity of the design has been unfairly compromised by the mundane need for a third door.
Nowadays, car models tend to come in about 47 different versions, and the Mito is no exception. Top of the range is the 1.4 TB 155bhp Veloce, whose acceleration serves to relocate your solar plexus in the boot.
Small cars often have a sensation of speed much greater than their actual capability. With the MiTo Veloce, the capability matches the sensation, leaving the driver struggling to keep up. And that's on the Normal setting. All things considered, I decided I wasn't man enough for Dynamic.
Alfa Mito 1.4TB
Top speed 134mph
Acceleration 0-62mph in 8 seconds
Average consumption 43.5mpg
CO2 emissions 153
Eco rating 7.5/10
At the wheel Federico Macheda
Bound for The M6 toll road
In a word Golazzo!