Alfa Romeo Mito Multiair: driven

  • Great performance and economy
  • Chassis isn't so great
  • On sale now, from £15,896
Fiat doesn't waste time on false modesty when talking about its new Multiair engines. 'This will become the standard for petrol engines,' it says.

We're going to be seeing a lot of them, too. They're already in the Fiat Punto Evo, and now they're making their way into Alfa Romeo's supermini, the Mito.

What is Multiair?
Multiair is an electro-hydraulic form of variable valve operation that delivers exactly the right amount of air (and fuel) the engine needs at any given time. Think of your lungs – you breathe more deeply when running or climbing stairs than when strolling into the kitchen.

In the Mito
There are two versions of the engine in the Mito – both 1.4-litre turbocharged units. One develops 135bhp and is in Lusso and Veloce models, which have either a five-speed manual or six-speed twin-clutch semi-auto gearbox. The other, with 170bhp, is reserved exclusively for the Cloverleaf, which is available only with a six-speed manual.

The Cloverleaf also gets variable damping control, operated through the DNA switch that allows you to change throttle and steering response in every Mito. Alfa says it has also worked on the suspension, manual gearshift quality and interior trim of the range.

More photos of the Alfa Mito Multiair

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The good news is that those engine boffins aren't wrong: these are corkers – torquey, refined and quiet unless you want them to be otherwise. Even then, the sounds are pleasingly raspy. To those qualities, the Cloverleaf adds some real fizz.

Shame about the chassis
If only the chassis was as good. The Lusso and Veloce neither ride nor steer with the authority expected of a semi-sporty 'mini. At times it's downright crashy, and the gearshift is still not good enough. So, you fear the worst from the Cloverleaf, which has even larger wheels. Actually, though, it's much better – more precise and better damped, although there's still room for improvement.

What Car? says
Great engines, but there's still work to be done on the chassis


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