Sunday, August 23, 2009

Alfa MiTo, god I LOVE it!

In case you haven’t notice, Sime Darby’s Auto ConneXion finally launch Alfa MiTo last Friday, priced at on the high side of RM153,888. No way I’m going to let this MiTo passing by without at least having a brief drive. Joined by three laysing old timers, we went to its 3S dealership in Section 13, PJ the day after.

Visually, it’s love or hate thing when it comes to chrome side mirrors and bug eyed inspired by 8C Competizione. To me, it brings charms and lovable character, a bit of retro flavour from the snooty shield shaped front grille, exact replica of Satria Neo front fender, 17” alloys with P-Zero rubbers, to its rear high waistline with circular LED lights, making it unmistakenly an Alfa but with a modern day looks. Imagine it as Satria Neo made by Italians only better looking and sexy. Mind you Proton Satria Neo is already a nice looking car. 50 year old chaps wouldn’t have problem scoring with the ladies if they’re driving this I think.

Powered by the economical 1.4 ltr inline 4 albeit turbocharged, you’d get 155bhp@5500rpm and typical turbo torque 230nm@3000rpm transfer to the front wheels with 6-speed manual box and electronic diff. It also equipped with Alfa ‘DNA’ 3 settings – Sport, Normal and All Weather. Plenty of controls too namely ASR, HHC, MSR, CBC, TBC, DST, TTC to complicate things further. Personally I would consolidate these simply as ESP. Yeah the more acronyms, the more canggih impression to the customers!

Suspension is pretty much straight forward, coilover setup, Macpherson independent front, torsion (twist) beam on the rear and 17” wrapped with 215/45/17 Pirelli P-Zero rubbers. Alfa went slightly mad when it comes to brakes, they fitted the MiTo with 4 potters BBK on the front which sourced from Brembo, and these are the same ones used on the Brera!

On the inside, it’s typical Alfa affair. Black themed cabin with CF looks dashboard on top, dials as usual are hooded and four prominent round air vents where each made up of horizontally split vanes. Alfa classic ribbed leather seats by Pelle Frau sums up the ambiance, although I’m not so sure whether the Exora looking steering should be in there. Ergonomics may not be as user friendly as VW or Toyota but when you’re inside seduced by its aura, somehow you’d have forgiven the idiocy. There’s a proper space at the back for two adults but legroom might be a little bit crampy. But boot space for a car this size, I’d say generous.

Lets talk about fit and finish if I may, the MiTo’s materials are pretty solid and impressive (slightly below par than its bigger brother 159 and Brera) but the glossy silver painted on the centre of the dash and some parts of the steering definitely be exhaustive over few years to come especially in hot climate countries like in here. And they’re still behind VW, Toyota and Mini when it comes to gaps consistency especially between door trim and dashboard. Equipment wise, the ones selling in our shores comes with pretty high spec-ed - 7 airbags, cruise control, 6 speakers in-car entertainment, bi-xenon headlights, and separate zone climate control.

The test drive route was a rather short one, not enough to see it hot hatch-ness ability but then it’s better than none. Initial impression, I find the steering is too freaking light weighted much akin to earlier Slyphy I drove recently. I stopped by the road side for a while to change the DNA setting to “Dynamic”. Now the steering feels better weighted but somehow not direct enough. On another note, the engine response seems to be better and in-dash screen started displaying boost reading.

As impressive as they seems on paper, the boost comes in late at around 3.5k rpm stays until 6.5k rpm and delivery feels like a bit kuih lapis. Don’t get me wrong, it’s powerful and in MiTo chassis, it will go bonkers than standard Polo GTI but it’s just not my cup of tea. I’m sure it some of it attributed to ‘oversized’ front mount intercooler. It goes to show that no replacement for displacement still relevant in today’s world. Gone the Alfa grows, the engine note is more like crackly though slightly muted compared to Pocong. Still great noise but I prefer 2.2 JTS engine on the Brera and 159, and yet the 2.2 engine still not as pronounced as 2.0 ltr equipped Alfa GT.

The 6-speed manual ratio is relatively close enough but gear change feels imprecise and rowing through the gate is a little bit longer and plasticky. Bar the steering feel which is numb even on Dynamic, the chassis is well balanced and chunkable through the corners. And tricked suspension electronics helps in reducing roll without making the ride too harsh. It may not be MCS league but sure fun to toy around. The brakes feels sharp and sometimes may be ‘over powered’ so it’s a good excuse to uprate the power should you ever get one. :)

In short brief moment with the MiTo, I sum it up as a feisty little hatch with to die for looks (well almost), typical Alfa flair but not quite as sporting as its looks might suggest. The so many electronic trickeries are unnecessarily complex, and it does not enhance the overall handling experience. And at RM154k price tag, it’s considerably expensive to justify for many motorheads but people will still buy it because seduced by its charms and sexiness. I could be one of them but I’d rather wait for the GTA variant – 1.75 ltr 240 bhp. White or Cream will do along with red leather seats hmmm that gives something to think about!

Oh yes, we do tried the Brera and 159 too. We just simply fell in love with the 159, it has the looks, Italian flair, plenty of space inside, impressive build quality, engine that grows and priced way cheaper than other Germans at RM188k. So for the E90 320i owners, you’ve bought the WRONG car! hehehe

Satria Neo replica front fenders!

By far my favourite colour but god it looks GOOD!

High waistline with circular LED lights inspired by 8C Competizione too ... some say from 599 GTB!

Another look at Italian's flair

Bug eyed, either you like it or hate it

Typical Alfa affair

Don't you love this classic ribbed leather seats???

As impressive as they're, displacement don't lie

17" dial wheels, and unmistakenly 4 pot Breambo BBK

I agree completely, sign this VSO might end up having you presign your divorce paper!

Images courtesy of Azdilizan


  1. nice mito from italia....azimat langkawi

  2. Hi Azimat,

    Yeah I've to agree the MiTo is a nice looking car. Almost fallen for it when it was launched :)