I test drove two MiTos back to back yesterday afternoon. A 120 Bhp 1.6 JTDm and the 155 Bhp 1.4 TB
As it was Saturday afternoon the Dealership was busy, so whilst waiting for the Salesman, I walked around a few MiTos they had around the place. The thing which strikes me is that for a ‘Supermini’ it’s not *that* small really is it..? Ok, there are bigger cars by a long way, but it’s certainly not tiny and only about half an inch narrower and five and a half inches shorter than the Alfa 147 we’re looking to replace it with
Beyond that, there’s the fact that in 3D, details pop out and its presence grabs you far more than in the brochures I’ve been pouring over since first dropping into the place three days earlier. A definite ‘makes more sense in the flesh’ car this one :thumbs:
After having a ‘confident’ Salesman laugh at my comment that the 120 Bhp version has now emerged as a possibility due to it’s usability and suggesting that we were even wasting our time seeing what the 1.6 JTDm is all about - none of that went down too well with me I can tell thee - we headed for the Diesel one first
In Giulietta and Veloce trim, it served to underline that Alfa Red would be the only choice for us and as soon as I’d sat in the passenger seat, the Windows logo on the Blue&Me USB slot screamed out as being rather nasty. Yes, I’m an absolute iWhore, so that doesn’t help, but it could surely have been placed out of sight..?
With the wife and 13 year old son in the back, we set off with the Salesman driving out. The family were happy with the available room back there and that’s good to know coming from the 147. Having had an Audi TTS as a second car until recently, a defined change of mindset (call it being sensible if you like) dictates that there’s no way that a compromised ‘back shelf’ type seat would be an option for us now as a single car family
First up, the car felt pretty solid, smooth and quiet on the road (for what it is) and then we were in to the DNA demo - cruising at 30mph in 4th gear under a constant throttle, flick the switch and we’re away. That’s a good demonstration of the system but of course, it’s not that the ‘D’ gives you something extra, it’s purely now free to go where ‘N’ restricts things a bit and ‘A’ even further. Ok, that’s s slight over simplification as other setting do vary too, but you get the idea
The thing which impressed me most was the amount of low down torque from the 1.6 JTDm - very usable and wholly surprising. Of course the 320 Nm figure on that shows why, but honestly, of all the things I discovered in this hour and a half with the MiTos, this is the most outstanding of all initial impressions
On swapping seats, the car felt fine. I was quite taken with how far away the base of the windscreen is - that adds to the feeling of space and belies it’s ‘Supermini’ class. The steering is vague in ‘N’ - no question of that - and when switching to ‘D’, I can definitely appreciate where the ‘artificial’ comments relayed by some are coming from. Having had a Lotus Elise SportsRacer which is arguably one the best handling cars in the world with steering so tactile it not only communicates, it gives you chapter and verse, I comment on the MiTo steering feel more as an observation than a criticism as you do get used to it
On to the 155 Veloce in Gardenia for a similar drive along the same route. With traffic still busy, any fun was restricted to short spurts, but yes, it’s a lively motor. I was trying to appreciate it’s tone and performance against the joys of previously owned mid-engined and 275 Bhp cars respectively, which is never going to happen of course, but given what it is, I’d have to concede that it has a certain character which would doubtless be more tuneful than a standard Micra or Corsa. So yes, for a car of its type, it can only be seen as very lively. Ah yes, definitely a step on from the 147 1.6TS we currently have that’s for sure - largely due to the turbo of course
The handling was less certain than I’d hoped for - pushing out of roundabouts had the front looking for grip (even on 215 / 45 / 17s) and bundling into a corner from a slight rise had the back moving about. Maybe all cars in this bracket do this though? Maybe being used to highly capable machinery heightens ones sense to these sensations whereas in reality, anything in the same class will do this
The action of the 6-speed gearbox in both was smooth and precise enough, even if the travel is a little long. The Salesman told me he laughed at someone for daring to say it was ‘notchy’... does that habit endear him to many people I wonder..?
The dash materials seem fine given it’s bracket and from other comments I’ve read, I was expecting the inner door surface to be horribly hard plastic, but there is a level of feeling to the materials which was above what I was anticipating. The doors themselves do feel very hollow though it has to be said and the driver’s door seemed to rattle awkwardly off the striker pin when opening it rather than simply releasing and moving away. Oh and yes, there was a big rattle in the door of the 155 which the salesman said he caused by catching his foot on it... I’m less certain of ‘my new best mate’s’ explanation however...
I do accept that I have some difficulty in remaining objective when considering this car. Having had an Elise and a couple MkII TTs over the last three years, the MiTo is never going to compare on any performance or build quality front (except for practical rear seats) and I’m trying hard to view it as an entity in its own right rather than by wholly unfair and unreasonable comparison. So with that said, it’s a good car - possibly even a great car in fact
One thing which I am now trying to comprehend whist writing this is whether I actually had any reference for it’s performance..? I mean, given the unfamiliar surroundings of both the car and the roads, would driving as I was on the tests have been over and above how I would have normally driven anyway... or some way below..? Was I therefore looking for something I wouldn’t normally need..? The only real way to find this out is on an extended test drive so we can bring the car to usual surroundings for a direct comparison and to have half a day to acclimatise to the thing
However, the main remit here is something which the wife can use day to day - it ticks that box for sure. Something which we can fit in as a 3-person family without drama - again, no problem. We’d like something cool, classy and funky - it does that effortlessly :thumbs:
Coming from someone who’s always had slightly larger cars, stepping ‘down’ to a MiTo in size terms really isn’t a problem. The balance of economy, practicality and fun appeals these days and I’ll freely admit that the world is changing in many ways. Gone are the days of glorious V8s becoming a realistic ownership proposition... oh and that’s another thing - why do couples who are expecting their first baby suddenly think that anything less huge 4x4 type wagon simply won’t be adequate..? The MiTo is ‘adequate’ for us and we’re neither *that* young or have a baby anymore
Perhaps where I’m a little more unsure is whether I can enjoy it fully when the mood strikes..? I probably have to accept that my expectations are too high here and will need to change my outlook. Is that a bad thing though..? Probably not...