Used Alfa Romeo MiTo (2008-2019)

Elegant styling and some fine engines, but the flawed Alfa Romeo MiTo is cramped and feels less nimble and fun to drive than rivals

Strengths & Weaknesses

Strengths 

Looks great
Sprightly engines
Lots of standard equipment

Weaknesses 

Cramped interior
Not a lot of fun to drive
Loses its value faster than rivals
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Alfa Romeo Giulietta Hatchback 1.75 tbi 240 veloce 5dr tct

Total RRP £30,220

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Alfa Romeo Mito prices from £5,000  Finance from £97 per month

On paper the Alfa Romeo MiTo must have seemed like a good idea. With its head-turning style, evocative badge and small dimensions it was aimed straight at successful premium supermini rivals such as the Mini and DS 3. Despite a production run of ten years, the MiTo never really hit its stride, selling in tiny numbers for most of its life, even after numerous updates aimed at tempting buyers into showrooms.

The MiTo is an all Italian affair, being designed in Milan and built in Turin - hence the name, which combined the two locations (Turin in Italian is Torino). The styling certainly lives up to its Latin heritage, with its heart-shaped front grille, curvaceous lines and circular tail lights taking their cues from Alfa Romeo’s stunning 8C supercar.

Inside it looks the part too, with heavily cowled dials and a dashboard that houses circular ‘eyeball’ air vents. Bold colours are used throughout, with red leather trim for the seats and large corresponding dashboard and door inserts in the same colour.

Yet while it looks a cut above the average supermini, the interior feels cheaper than some entry-level mainstream models, even on the upgraded later cars. Many of the plastics are hard and have sharp edges from the moulding process, while quality isn’t the best with loose and rattly trim.

It’s not a particularly roomy car either. There’s only a three-door layout and access to the rear seats (you’ll only fit two adults in there) is tight to say the least, with only a small gap between the back of the front seats and door pillar. And at 270-litres the boot is no more than class competitive, plus its hobbled by a high loading lip.

The driver and passenger fair a little better with decent head and legroom, while the seats on higher grade models are very supportive. Yet the driver sits surprisingly high, despite a wide range of seat and wheel adjustment.

Given its age it’s no surprise to find that the entertainment is a bit old hat. It wasn’t until the facelift in 2014 that the MiTo got a touchscreen system as standard, yet while it’s packed with features the graphics look old and it’s fiddly to use. There’s also no straightforward smartphone connection, such as Apple CarPlay.

There’s good news when it comes to safety, with the MiTo scoring a full five stars in the EuroNCAP test, albeit way back in 2008. All cars get seven airbags, stability control (except for early Progression models), anti-whiplash head restraints and tyre pressure monitoring. And that’s about it. The Alfa Romeo’s aging design meaning there’s no autonomous emergency braking, blind spot monitoring or lane keep assist - all standard on more modern rivals.

To drive, the MiTo is something of a mixed bag. The steering is sharp and the body doesn’t lean alarmingly during cornering, but lower powered versions don’t have as much grip as you’d expect, often starting run wide in a corner with little provocation. The faster Cloverleaf, Quadrifoglio, and Veloce models are better, but trail far behind the likes of the Mini Cooper S.

Most versions get what Alfa Romeo calls its DNA controller, which allows you to switch between Dynamic, Normal, and All-weather modes. Essentially this makes the throttle more sensitive and adds weight to the electrically assisted steering. On models powered by the 170hp petrol engine it also acted on the adaptive dampers, allowing you to soften or stiffen the suspension depending on the road and your mood (although in reality the choice is between firm and firmer).

Even without this set-up the MiTo’s suspension fails to cushion bumps effectively. It is no worse than the Mini in this respect, but in the Alfa Romeo you hear the suspension working as it crashes and thuds along. There’s also a fair amount of wind and road noise.

Last Updated 

Friday, June 28, 2019 - 00:45

Key facts 

Warranty: 
3 years/ unlimited miles
Boot: 
270 litres
Width: 
1720mm
Length: 
4063mm
Height: 
1446mm
Tax (min to max): 
£0 to £145

Best 

Alfa Romeo MiTo 1.3 JTDM2 95HP
Small diesel engine is surprisingly refined and is capable of a claimed 83.1mpg. Factor in entry-level MiTo’s attractive price for maximum savings
Alfa Romeo MiTo Speciale 0.9 TwinAir 105HP
Cramped interior and three-door only body means the MiTo is for small families only. Still, Speciale is well equipped, while two-cylinder engine is peppy, characterful and perfect for school run duties
Alfa Romeo MiTo Quadrifoglio Verde
With 168hp turbocharged engine and uprated suspension and brakes this is as hot as the MiTo gets. It’s not much fun, but will sprint from 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds
Alfa Romeo MiTo 1.4
Breathless 76hp 1.4-litre engine means traditional Alfa sporting spirit is absent. Slow, dull to drive and sparsely equipped.

History 

Jul 2008: Alfa Romeo MiTo launched at the British Motor Show
Jan 2009: MiTo lands in UK showrooms with a choice of three petrol engines (all 1.4-litre) and two diesels, plus Turismo, Lusso and Veloce trims
Jun 2009: Entry-level Junior model is announced with 78hp 1,4-litre petrol
Mar 2010: Multiair 1.4-litre petrols revealed with a choice of 133hp or 168hp in the new Cloverleaf hot hatch
Apr 2010: The 1.3-litre diesel gains 10hp to 94hp, while stop-start technology for 89g/km CO2 emissions
Jan 2011: TCT dual clutch automatic transmission is an option on 135hp 1.4-litre Multiair petrol engine.
May 2011: trim levels changed to Progression, Sprint, Distinctive and Quadrifoglio Verde. Also added was a 105hp version of the 1.4-litre Multiair petrol
Jul 2012: Characterful 84hp turbocharged two-cylinder TwinAir engine is added to the range, plus Live entry-level model
Oct 2013: The MiTo gets a minor facelift that runs to small cosmetic tweaks and the addition of a 5-inch touchscreen infotainment system. The TwinAir’s output is boosted to 105hp and the standard 1.4-litre Multiair to 138hp, while the trims are changed to Sprint, Distinctive, Sportiva, QV Line and Quadrifoglio Verde
Feb 2015: Junior and Progression trim levels are reintroduced to the UK
Oct 2015: MiTo Collezione special edition is added, with choice of 0.9-litre TwinAir or 1.4-litre Multiair engines. Live is dropped from the range
Sep 2016: Another minor facelift brings new wheels and trim changes, while line-up is revised to MiTo, MiTo Super, MiTo Speciale and MiTo Veloce. The 1.4-litre Multiair engines now only available with TCT auto gearbox, plus the 1.6-litre diesel is dropped.
Jul 2018: Production of MiTo ends at Turin factory in Italy
May 2019: Remaining stock of entry-level MiTo still available in the UK

Understanding names 

  • Trim
    Veloce
  • Engine
    1.4 TB 170HP Multiair
  • Gearbox
    TCT
  • Trim
    The MiTo line-up became head-scratchingly confusing over the years. Junior, Progression and Turismo were all entry-level, while mid-specification went by anything from Lusso to Speciale. Fast, hot hatch models started life as the Cloverleaf, then became the Quadrifoglio (Italian for cloverleaf) and Quadrifoglio Verde, before transforming into the Veloce in 2016, a name that was first used for the 155hp model from 2009 to 2011. Confused? We are. Also in the bag were Live and Collezione, plus QV Line.
  • Engine
    Slightly less confusing is the engine line-up. Early cars were powered by a 1.4-litre turbo, which was upgraded to the more powerful but similarly sized Multiair unit in 2011. Alongside this was the naturally aspirated 1.4-litre petrol, plus the 0.9-litre Twinair. Diesel choice was between 1.3-litre and 1.6-litre JTM units, with the former quickly being upgraded with the latter’s stop-start technology and more power.
  • Gearbox
    TCT, or Twin Clutch Transmission, was an automatic gearbox offered only on the 1.4-litre Multiair models. The entry-level 76hp 1.4-litre petrol was fitted with a five-speed manual gearbox, while all other versions received a six-speed manual.

Engines 

Petrol: 0.9 Twinair, 1.4, 1.4 TB, 1.4 TB Multiair
Diesel: 1.3 JTDM, 1.6 JTDM

On the face of it the Alfa Romeo MiTo engine line-up looks fairly straightforward, but delve a little deeper and it gets a little confusing. So deep breath, and here we go.

The entry-level petrol is a 1.4-litre 16-valve unit that delivers a respectable 93hp. It’s a bit noisy when worked hard, but delivers acceptable acceleration and, if driven sensibly, should comfortably return more than 40mpg.

Alongside this engine was added a similarly sized petrol that features a less sophisticated 78hp. Aimed at attracting lower insurance premiums for younger drivers it’s a fairly sedate performer. There’s decent low rev lugging power, but it doesn’t like to be worked hard, while overtaking maneuvers require plenty of planning.

Early cars, from 2009 to 2010 got a turbocharged version of the more powerful, 16-valve naturally aspirated engine. As you’d expect with a choice of 120 and 155hp outputs these engines are far more sprightly, with the more powerful version claiming a credible 7.7 seconds for the 0-62mph sprint. Yet while they are stronger performers they lack the keen-revving enthusiasm and throaty roar you expect from Italian engines.

For this sort of behaviour drivers had to wait for the all-new Multiair engines to arrive in 2010. With the same 1.4-litre capacity but more power and greater efficiency, these units are arguably the pick of the bunch, with the possible exception of the entry-level 103hp version that actually uses more fuel than its faster counterparts. With a rasping exhaust note and smooth revving characteristics, these engines really suit the sporting character of the Alfa Romeo.

The most characterful engine is the 0.9-litre TwinAir. With just two cylinders it features a distinctive throbbing note and an appetite for revs that encourages you to push it hard. Go for the 94hp version and it’s reasonably brisk too, easily keeping up with fast-moving traffic, thanks in no small part to its snappy six-speed manual gearbox. However, drive it with the enthusiasm of an Italian on the commute home and you can expect to get nowhere near the 60-plus mpg claims - mid-thirties is more like it.

For frugality the diesels are hard to beat, particularly the 1.3-litre JTDM. There’s a choice of power outputs, but all have the same 200Nm of torque so in the real world the differences in performance are small. It’s a reasonably refined little engine and there’s enough acceleration to keep up with the traffic. If you want ultimate fuel efficiency, the stop-start equipped versions are best as the car automatically shuts off the engine as you roll to a halt for, say, traffic lights, before starting it again as you press the clutch pedal to engage first gear and move away.

The larger 1.6-litre JTDM is a far lustier performer, offering junior hot hatch acceleration. Yet the trade-off is that it’s not as refined or fuel efficient as the smaller engine.

In terms of gearbox options, only the entry-level 1.4-litre cars got a five-speed manual - all others benefitted from a reasonably slick and precise six-speed manual. The TCT twin-clutch automatic was offered on the more powerful 1.4-litre Multiair engines. If you do a lot of stop and start motoring, but in terms of smoothness and responsiveness it lags a long way behind VW’s similar DSG transmission.

Fuel

Fuel economy

Power

Acceleration (0-62mph)

Top speed

1.4

Petrol

47.8 - 50.4mpg

76 - 93hp

10.8 - 12.6sec

103 - 112mph

0.9 Twinair

Petrol

67.1 - 67.2mpg

84 - 104hp

11.0 - 12.1sec

108 - 114mph

1.4 TB 120

Petrol

46.3mpg

120hp

8.5sec

123mph

1.4 TB 155

Petrol

43.5mpg

155hp

7.7sec

134mph

1.4 TB Multiair 105

Petrol

49.6mpg

103hp

10.4sec

116mph

1.4 TB Multiair 135

Petrol

50.4 - 51.4mpg

133hp

7.9 - 8.1sec

129mph

1.4 TB Multiair 140

Petrol

52.3mpg

138hp

8.1sec

130mph

1.4 TB Multiair 170

Petrol

52.3mpg

168hp

7.3sec

136mph

1.3 JTDM

Diesel

78.4 - 83.1mpg

83 - 93hp

11.2 - 12.5sec

108 - 112mph

1.6 JTDM

Diesel

64.2 - 65.7mpg

118hp

9.9sec

123mph

Trims 

Turismo, Live, Lusso, Junior, Progression, Sprint, Sportiva, Distinctive, Collezione, Cloverleaf, Quadrifoglio Verde, QV Line, Super, Speciale, Veloce

As you can see from the headline above, Alfa Romeo wasn’t shy with individual trim levels for the MiTo. Over its ten year lifespan the car was treated to numerous small facelifts, with each one resulting in a change individual models. It looks head-scratching at first, but look past the new names and you’ll find that essentially the equipment hierarchy remained the same. There were also a few special editions thrown in for good measure, but we’ll concentrate on the standard versions first.

Early entry-level cars were badged Turismo and were fairly well-equipped with air-conditioning, electric windows, 16-inch alloy wheels and a CD player. Above this model sat the Lusso, which added leather trim for the steering wheel and gearlever, carbon fibre effect dashboard trim, remote control stereo controls and front fog lamps. At the top of the range was the Veloce, which featured larger 17-inch alloys and subtle bodykit on the outside, while inside there was Bluetooth connectivity and more luxurious trim.

With the arrival of the Multiair engines in 2010 came the high performance Cloverleaf model. Similarly equipped to the Veloce it gained 17-inch alloys, larger brakes, a twin exit exhaust and unique interior trim peppered with Cloverleaf logos.

Subtle changes in the 2011 line-up was changed, with all new model names and more kit. The Sprint effectively replaced the Turismo but gained desirable features such as Bluetooth, steering wheel-mounted stereo controls front foglamps. The Lusso became the Distinctive, which was similarly equipped but had many of the sporty visual additions, such as a bodykit, from the Veloce. Elsewhere, the Cloverleaf transformed into the more glamorous sounding Quadrifoglio Verde, which gained 18-inch alloy wheels, parking sensors and adjustable adaptive suspension dampers. Finally, the entry-level Progression was revealed, which features steel wheels and the 76hp 1.4-litre engine.

The following year saw the introduction of the Sportiva, which was effectively a Quadrifoglio Verde but with the less powerful 1.4-litre Multiair engine and smaller brakes.

In 2014 there was yet another small change to the line-up, with upgraded equipment and, crucially, the introduction across the range of Uconnect entertainment system that features a 5-inch touchscreen. The Progression model was dropped (only to be introduced some months later with more kit, including alloy wheels and Bluetooth), while the Sportiva was renamed as the QV Line.

Around this time there was also the introduction of the Live and Collezione special editions. The former was aimed at younger buyers and combined the insurance-friendly 83hp 0.9-litre petrol engine with an upgraded Pioneer sound system. Also available was the addition of a Black Box telematics system that monitored driving and sent back information to your insurance company.

The Collezione was a more upmarket model, with unique alloy wheels on the outside and part leather trim for the cabin.

Finally, in 2016 the range was given its final refresh. Once again the Progression was removed from the range, while the Sprint and Distinctive became the MiTo and MiTo Sprint respectively, while the QV Line and Quadrifoglio Verde were now the Sportiva and Veloce. Overall equipment levels were broadly similar to before, but there were minor visual and interior trim changes, while the Sportiva and Veloce were now only available with the TCT transmission.

In terms of optional extras, most were are varied as the ever-changing model line-up. However, entry-level models, particularly the Progression, were limited in what could be added - the big upgrade being Bluetooth. As for the other versions it’s always looking out for upgraded infotainment on the early cars, including sat-nav and Bose hi-fi.

Also desirable is leather trim, which could be added to almost every version. It looks especially good in red. Speaking of seats, the Cloverleaf, Quadrifoglio and later Veloce models were available with distinctive figure-hugging Sparco front seats.

Reliability and warranty 

Like all Alfa Romeo models the MiTo comes with a three year warranty with an unlimited mileage provision. The time span of the guarantee could be extended at extra cost and, like its Mini arch-rival, there were a variety of pre-paid servicing plans to rake the financial sting out of routine maintenance.

It wouldn’t be unkind to suggest the MiTo isn’t the most robust or reliable model. In fact, in its last appearance in the Auto Express Driver Power customer satisfaction survey in 2016 it finished in 148th place overall and 145th for both reliability and build quality. Oh dear.

Used 

Although it’s been around for a decade the Alfa Romeo MiTo never proved as popular as the Mini or DS 3.

There are currently 12 Alfa Romeo MiTos available on BuyaCar, with prices ranging from £5,000 to £14,250 for nearly-new models.

Monthly finance payments start from £97 per month.

Given the bewildering array of different trim levels, choosing a used MiTo can be a daunting exercise. However, given the car’s upmarket aspirations most of those are higher specification cars, so you’re unlikely to feel shortchanged when it comes to standard equipment.

If you can stretch to a post 2014 car then we’d recommend you do so, not only do they get more kit (including the touchscreen entertainment), they’re also a little more robustly constructed.

As for engines, the most popular unit is the 0.9-litre Twinair, which in 94hp guise perfectly suits the MiTo, delivering enough performance without overwhelming it’s dated driving dynamics.

Better still, slow sales of new examples means you can pick up some bargains. Take a look around and you’ll find dealers still haven’t shifted stock, with plenty offering 67 and 18 plate cars with less than delivery mileage - so new cars in other words.