- Tech & Gadgets
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Published 15 June 2011 12:47, Updated 23 November 2011 11:35
One motoring commentator described these two junior Alfa Romeos as not feeling like the Alfas of old but rather like the new Alfas.
OMG, what the hell does that mean?
It presupposes you a) have driven an older Alfa; b) have driven a newer Alfa; c) don’t know your elbow from your ear; d) have abused enough drugs to understand implicitly what he’s on about.
I can give you my interpretation – the Alfas of old were cramped, unreliable and noisy but a heap of fun to drive. The new Alfas are tidy, quieter, have more room, are reliable (so far) and still are a heap of fun to drive.
Oh, and they now are some of the safest cars on the road, with both achieving the top ANCAP (Australian New Car Assessment Program) rating.
Alfa Romeo has introduced four models of the little car – the three-door Mito, Mito TCT, Mito Sport TCT and Mito QV – and two of the reborn five-door Giulietta – the base model and the QV.
The Mito has front, side, head and knee airbags teamed with stability control, traction control, cornering brake control, oversteer assistance, anti-lock brakes, electronic brake-force distribution, hill brake-start assist and self-aligning head restraints.
The Giulietta has all of that except the knee air bags.
The Mito has TCT (twin-clutch transmission) on two of the models and a manual gearbox on the others.
The twin clutch transmission makes the car behave like an automatic but with the performance and fuel efficiency of a manual.
Inside the Mito
But the two models with TCT get the least powerful of the 1.4 litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engines at 99kW, while the manual base model puts out 114kW and the sporty QV 125kW.
The engines for the Mito and the Giulietta use Fiat’s multi-air technology in which air is introduced into the combustion chamber using electronic pumps rather than mechanically, which is meant to increase power and fuel efficiency.
Both also use a stop and start function that turns the engine off when the car comes to a complete stop and turns it on again once the foot brake is released or the clutch is engaged.
This helps it achieve a claimed fuel consumption of 5.5l/100km combined for the Mito and 5.8l/100km for the Giulietta.
Inside the Giulietta.
The stop and start works far better in the manual Giulietta than the TCT and the same applies to the hill assist. Alfa has some work to do to get these systems working as seamlessly in the little unit as they do in the bigger car.
Each car features three ranges – dynamic, normal and all-weather – which allows the driver to match the driving characteristics to the conditions.
Dynamic stiffens the suspension and peaks the engine, normal turns it all down again and all-weather makes it all soft and cuddly.
Alfa says the Mito gets from 0-100km/h in 8.2 seconds, which is quick for a little city-bred vehicle.
The Mito TCT has the Blue&Me audio and voice recognition system, which was developed with Microsoft, electronic key, air-conditioning, cruise control, leather steering wheel, paddle shifters, trip computer and six-speaker stereo with USB port.
The manual MiTo is priced at $29,990, the TCT at $31,990, the MiTo Sport TCT at $34,990 and MiTo QV at $34,990, excluding on-road costs.
There’s not a lot of room in the back and climbing in and out is tight for adults. The steering feels heavy around town, though on the open road it’s a pleasure.
Between the Mito and the mid-sized Alfa 159 sits the new Giulietta, which replaces the 147.
The first Giulietta was introduced in 1954 with a 40kW powerplant and it went out of production in 1965. It was revived in 1976 and lasted until 1985.
Both of the new hatchback Giuliettas share a healthy list of standard equipment. Dual-zone air-conditioning and heated door mirrors are standard as are automatic dipping interior mirror, fog lights, alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, leather steering wheel with audio controls, automatic wipers and lights and the Blue&Me system.
It also has a three-can rack inside its air-conditioned glove box to keep your chinotto cool.
The 1.4 litre engine puts out 125kW at 5500rpm with 250Nm of torque at 2500rpm in dynamic mode and has a 0-100km/h time of just 7.8 seconds. Its official carbon dioxide output is claimed to be 134gm/km.
Translated, that means it’s quick but with good fuel consumption and relatively low emissions.
Alfa says the ABS anti-lock braking system is one of the most advanced now available. It has four sensors that spread the braking force over all four wheels and adapts to the conditions.
Under emergency braking situations, the hydraulic brake assistance system increases brake circuit pressure to shorten stopping distances. The system includes a hill holder to stop the car rolling backwards on an incline.
The end result is a set of brakes that don’t need much pressure to work very well.
In addition, its electronic stability program monitors tyre grip, body direction and steering wheel angle to judge whether the situation is about to get weird.
One of the features I liked on this car was the steering, which becomes very light for parking and stiffens up as the speed increases.
It also features inner wheel braking for sharper cornering.
All together, the Giulietta is a really good package with enough refinement to make it comfortable and modern and more than enough grunt to get exciting.
The Giuliettas start at $36,990, with a top price of $41,990, excluding on-road costs.