Putting an 875cc two-cylinder petrol engine into an Alfa Romeo MiTo might seem a recipe for a woefully underpowered disappointment, but in fact the TwinAir models are a real hoot to drive with a charismatic engine, a decent chassis and strong fuel economy, if not anything like as strong as it’s manufacturer claims.
There’s a lot to be said these days for a car that feels so much faster than it is. It’s relatively easy to buy a car that makes driving fast feel about as exciting as creosoting a fence, but the Alfa MiTo TwinAir is the opposite. It makes travelling at modest speeds fun.
The 875cc turbocharged petrol engine is charismatic and technically interesting - and is a whole lot more rewarding to drive than its rather dismal on-paper performance figures would suggest.
A revised dual-mass flywheel has fundamentally changed the feel of the TwinAir engine. There’s still the thrum of a two-cylinder unit but there’s not the hard edge of the Fiat installation. It’s a good deal more refined and better for it, in this sort of car at least.
Really mash the throttle and it sounds properly purposeful though and acceleration is smooth, if not hugely vivid, 60mph arriving in about 12 seconds on the way to a 108mph top speed. Switch the car into Dynamic mode, throw it at a few corners and you’ll realise you’ve got that rare thing, namely a stylish, fun car that doesn’t cost the earth to run. What could have been a really bad idea actually turns out to be a bit of a masterstroke from Alfa Romeo.
We’ve seen so many nearly cars from the marque down the years that it’s good to see one that requires no excuses. Don’t get too hung up on the fact that it won’t achieve the published fuel consumption figures and you should have very few causes for complaint.
FACTS AT A GLANCE
CAR: Alfa Romeo MiTo TwinAir 85
PRICES: £14,150 - £15,350
INSURANCE GROUPS: 8-9
CO2 EMISSIONS: 98g/km
PERFORMANCE: 0-62 12.5s / top speed 108mph
FUEL CONSUMPTION: (urban) 57.6 (extra urban) 74.3 (combined) 67.3mpg
STANDARD SAFETY FEATURES: stability control, traction control, ABS with EBA & EBD, twin front and side airbags
WILL IT FIT IN YOUR GARAGE?: Length/Width/Height mm 4063/1720/1446.