The Alfa Romeo Mito Twinair is a new, ultra-efficient petrol version of the Italian brand's supermini.
Emitting just 98g/km of CO2, it's the only premium-badged supermini that qualifies for the lowest (10%) company car tax band for non-electric cars. This makes it significantly cheaper to run than the 13% Audi A1 1.6 TDI and Mini One D.
The new Mito Twinair is exempt from road tax and the London Congestion Charge, and has claimed average economy of 67.3mpg.
Whats the 2012 Alfa Romeo Mito Twinair like to drive?
The 0.9-litre two-cylinder petrol engine is already available in a number of other Fiat Group models, including the Fiat 500 and Chrysler Ypsilon.
Weve criticised its poor refinement in these cars, and in our True MPG tests its fallen unacceptably short of its official average economy. Fortunately, the engine has been updated for the Mito.
Alfa Romeo has fitted a new dual-mass flywheel to counter vibration. This has helped to reduce the amount of shudder you feel in the cabin when accelerating.
There's still a bit of buzz through the pedals, and the engine is quite noisy compared with four-cylinder petrols. However, the sewing machine-style thrum isn't unpleasant, and it virtually disappears once you're up to cruising speed.
Alfa's DNA system lets you change the weighting of the steering
The Mito Twinair also comes with a revamped version of Alfa's DNA system. Put this in 'Dynamic' mode and you get the engines full 84bhp and 107lb ft of torque, but the power delivery is fairly abrupt. 'Natural' reduces power and torque to 77bhp and 81lb ft, but gives a smoother delivery and cuts noise and vibration. This reduced power only becomes an issue when youre overtaking at relatively high speeds.
Alfa says that keeping the car in Natural mode also makes it easier to achieve good fuel economy figures. We'll be putting that claim to the test soon.
Sadly, most of the Mito's less desirable traits remain. It neither steers nor rides with the precision and composure you expect of a sporty supermini. In fact, the ride is downright hard. A combination of quick steering and sloppy body control makes the car feel nervous on twisty country lanes.
You have to put up with a lot of wind and road noise at motorway speeds, too.
Whats the 2012 Alfa Romeo Mito Twinair like inside?
As in other Mitos, the seats are easily adjusted, but the driving position is awkward and there isn't much support for your back.
To make matters worse, visibility is restricted due to the small rear window, and some of the dashboard controls are fiddly.
Three-door superminis dont have to be the last word in practicality, but some rivals including the Audi A1 are better in this respect.
The Alfas rear seats are small and difficult to access, and while the boot is a decent size at 270 litres, the high load lip makes it hard to drop in heavy items.
At least the design of the cabin is fairly smart and classy looking.
The Twinair is available in two trims: Sprint and Distinctive. Sprint models come with 16-inch alloys, air-con, Bluetooth, a USB socket and cruise control, while Distinctive adds larger wheels, lumbar support for the drivers seat, rear parking sensors and various aesthetic add-ons.
Should I buy one?
The 2012 Mito Twinair doesn't make any sense for private buyers, because the 1.3-litre diesel model qualifies for the same tax breaks, costs just 585 more and is much easier on fuel you'll need to do only around 8000 miles before it pays for itself.
It's as a company car that the Twinair starts to look compelling. However, we'd still go elsewhere if you can afford to pay slightly more in tax, because the A1 1.6 TDI and Mini One D are much better to drive.
What Car? says