Romeo is bleeding……marvellous

Alfa Romeo’s sporty supermini the MiTo won a host of admirers when it was first unveiled. The TCT (Twin Clutch Transmission) version now available  has had a mixed reaction to say the least. One magazine associated with a well-known TV programme could not have been more scathing but in other quarters it has its fans.
The reason for the differing views is that the innovative six speed gearbox has been combined with stop/start technology to provide a new type of driving experience.
I put the 1.4 turbocharged  MiTo Veloce to the test to find out what all the fuss is about.
Alfa Romeo is one of those intriguing brands that has an ultra loyal following despite the fact that
many of their cars have their flaws. This seems to be an accepted fact even these days when advanced technology is the goal for all manufacturers.
Alfa Romeo always tries to do it with a little style too. The MiTo is loosely based on the 8C supercar and borrows some of its magnetic appeal.
It is also packed with innovative features such as the award-winning MultiAir petrol engine,
three different performance modes and that new gearbox. So, what is it like?
Well, my first ever car when I was a greenhorn working at a local newspaper was a Hillman
Avenger automatic. A colleague somehow persuaded me to invest in an automatic in the days when they were very much unfashionable and had a distinct tendency to creep forward at lights even with brake depressed – young and naive, I had no time for the handbrake.
The TCT and its companion stop/start on the Mito is actually built around the fact you keep the brake down when you come to a halt. This is really quite a profound change. The second you do this the engine cuts out and then quietly refires as soon as you lift your foot off the brake.
Some have complained there can be drag time between these events but you wouldn’t really see it as a problem unless you are a boy racer itching to screech away from the lights.
Where you can come to grief – as I discovered on top of the Yorkshire Moors – is that a hill start
can result in an unexpected roll back, pressing alarm bells and signalling to the driver behind that you are a bit of an idiot. Although I believe a hill start system should have kicked in.
The benefits are less oil used and a major reduction in emissions and fuel usage so you can’t really argue with that.
If you do find a bit of drag before re-ignition it is also possible to switch to manual operation using
steering wheel paddles, as well as engaging Dynamic mode for a sportier response.
Performance wise, the car is impressive. Upto 60mph in a touch over eight seconds and I got an average 40 miles to the gallon with combined urban, motorway and hill climbing duties.
The one annoying feature that bugs all Alfa Romeo’s is the fact that apparently the fuel light springs up with around 50 miles left in the tank. Immediately after it does this the tripometer refuses to calculate the estimated number of miles of motoring left. When this first happened I was literally in the middle of nowhere and started panicking until I luckily came across a delapidated old
service station in hillbilly country.
Design wise, it looks great with teardrop shaped windows, concencentric rear LED lights ,
sports alloys and chrome exhaust tailpipe. Inside the dashboard features an advanced graphical display, the electronics allow for Bluetooth and MP3 players and for comfor wrap around sports seats are provided.The MiTo has numerous switches and dials including a Microsoft Windows start button which activates the Blue&Me information and entertainment system, co-developed by Microsoft and Fiat, Alfa Romeo’s parent company. It allows playback of digital music via the car’s USB port as well as hands-free use of mobile phones that have been paired via Bluetooth.
The car also has also been given a five star Euro NCap rating for safety.

MiTo Veloce 1.4 turbocharged  from £16,775
CO emissions 128
Insurance group 16
135 bhp
Top speed 129mph   

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