ALFA ROMEO has introduced a new base variant of its MiTo city car that is powered by Fiat’s tiny .9-litre two-cylinder engine, bringing the entry price of its range-opener down by $2700.
The MiTo Series 2 range arrives in local Alfa showrooms this month from $22,500 plus on-road costs for the entry-level six-speed manual-only TwinAir, which makes it the cheapest Alfa Romeo offered in Australia for a time.
This same engine is accessible in a number of other models beneath the Fiat Chrysler umbrella, such as the just-launched Fiat Panda light hatch.
The price of the Panda Easy variant with the TwinAir engine when matched together with the Dualogic automated-manual transmission matches the $22,500 price-tag of the base MiTo.
Opting for a similar engine within the retro-inspired Fiat 500 hatch in Lounge guise using the Dualogic transmission costs $20,300 plus on-roads, undercutting the MiTo as well as the Panda by $2200.
Moving from base towards the mid-spec MiTo is the Progression that at $24,500 carries a $700 price drop, while matching it with Alfa’s six-speed TCT dual-clutch transmission adds $2000 over the manual for a value of $26,500.
Alfa has increased the buying price of the Distinctive by $600 to $28,000, which makes it the new range-topper until the arrival later during of the updated 125kW/250Nm MiTo Quad Verde warm-hatch.
Local parent company Fiat Chrysler Group Australia cut prices across the Alfa Fiat and Romeo line-ups in February last year, with between $4990 and $6790 coming off the little light hatch.
Since then, sales have grown by 120 per cent year-on-year, with 352 MiTos finding homes in Australia just last year compared with 160 in 2012. This has lifted the MiTo to second place for overall sales in the ‘light car over $25,000’ segment behind Peugeot’s 208 hatch with 996 sales for the year.
While it is a significant lift to the Italian-built runabout, it is still well off of the sales from the larger sibling – the Giulietta – sale which were up 220 percent last year, to 1949 units to the end of December.
Along with the switch to pricing, the mid-life update brings subtle styling changes, including a chrome surround for that grille, updated styling for the head and tail-light fittings of the base model and Progression and chrome surrounds for the tail-lights on the Distinctive.
A new colour – Magnesio Grey – is also provided by matte finish, and there are new alloy wheel designs for all three variants.
Powering the base variant will be the award-winning .9-litre two-cylinder TwinAir engine delivering 77kW of power and 145Nm of torque, matched solely having a six-speed manual transmission for the zero to 100km/h time period of 11.4 seconds.
All other variants feature the 1.4-litre four-cylinder MultiAir turbo engine, producing 99kW/206Nm that will do the -100km/h dash in 8.4 seconds when matched with the five-speed manual and 8.2 seconds with all the TCT dual-clutch transmission.
All variants are fitted with Alfa’s DNA system which adjusts the transmission and steering in one of three modes – Dynamic for more immediate acceleration, Neutral for daily driving and all sorts of-weather that maximises traction in poor climate conditions.
In 1.4-litre manual guise, the MiTo consumes 5.6 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres on the combined cycle, and 5.5L/100km with the dual-clutch, while the tiny TwinAir sips just 4.2L/100km, matching the figures of the Fiat Panda.
Interior upgrades are similarly subtle, with the main addition being the Uconnect infotainment multimedia system which is found in most Jeep and Chrysler products.
The system comes with a five-inch colour touchscreen, access to Bluetooth phone and audio and other media functions as well as displaying outside temperature, trip information and a digital clock boasting hands-free controls around the multi-function steering wheel.
Music devices and media players can also be connected using the USB and auxiliary jack. The Uconnect system – standard across the MiTo range – has a six-speaker stereo.
Three cloth seat trim colour combinations can be purchased in the base and Progression variants (black, black/white and black/bronze), as the Distinctive grade can be optioned with grey/black trim and either grey or red inserts.
Leather trim can be obtained as an option in the Distinctive and an electric sunroof could be optioned on any variant.
Despite the standard five-inch touchscreen, sat-nav is just not available on any MiTo variant, nor is a reversing camera.
Standard gear on the base MiTo includes a chrome plated exhaust, electric windows, manual air conditioning, cruise control, split-fold rear seat, leather controls, steering wheel audio and phone controls and idle stop.
Moving up on the Progression adds a Visibility Pack that also includes rain-sensing wipers, auto headlights and a auto-dimming rear-view mirror, rear parking sensors and Alfa’s adaptive suspension.
The Distinctive features all the equipment in the Progression as well as fog-lights, red stitching on the leather steering wheel and dual-zone climate control.
Cargo space in the MiTo is 270 litres, less than that in competitors such as the Peugeot 208 (311), Renault Clio (300) and Citroen DS3 (285).
Safety wise, the MiTo carries a five-star ANCAP crash safety rating, seven airbags, hill-hold assist and seatbelt reminders, along with the usual list of acronyms such as ABS, ESC and ESP.