While the Alfa Romeo MiTo does have plenty going for it – stylish looks, low running costs, a spacious interior and a lengthy list of personalisation options – it can’t quite keep up with rivals like the DS 3, Audi A1 or MINI hatchback in certain key areas.
It doesn’t ride particularly well due to firm, supposedly ‘sporty’, suspension, but unfortunately that doesn’t result in a particularly involving or fun driving experience. Whichever mode you have the ‘DNA’ system in, the steering always feels numb and the car is never as agile as many of its rivals.
It's not all doom and gloom, however. The MiTo has a good range of powerful and economical engines. Our favourite of the mainstream petrols is the turbocharged two-cylinder TwinAir. Despite displacing just 0.9 litres, it still manages to produce 105bhp and has CO2 emissions of 99g/km, meaning it's exempt from road tax.
The most efficient engine in the range is the 1.3-litre diesel, which manages 85bhp, returns over 80mpg and keeps CO2 emissions down to just 95g/km. There's also a much quicker 1.6-litre diesel, which makes 120bhp, but still manages nearly 66mpg.
The quickest model in the range is the 170bhp Quadrifoglio Verde (four-leaf clover), which will do 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds. However, it can’t match other small hot hatchbacks such as the Ford Fiesta ST, MINI Cooper S and Renaultsport Clio for driving fun, and it's a bit pricey, too.
Safety is a bit tricky to judge with the MiTo. Although Euro NCAP awarded it five stars, it was crash-tested way back in 2008 and the test has been revised several times since then. However, you do get seven airbags, stability control anti-lock brakes and traction control as standard, as well as hill-hold assistance – a system that keeps the car from rolling back during hill starts.