The new Mito from Alfa Romeo is a car to look forward to. Due here at the end of the year the super-mini is the first car to feature Alfa’s new design style.

Watch the video review.

Based on the Grande Punto platform, Alfa has jazzed up - not only the outside - but also the suspension and remapped the engines to deliver a car that will give the Mini a run for its money in the style stakes.

Alfa is targeting women and young drivers with Mito and in Italy, where young drivers get a financial break if they have a car that is low-powered, Alfa is even making a Mito 'Junior' (78bhp). With a junior price tag of €15,950, there is thankfully no loss of styling or safety features. Newly qualified drivers in Italy from January 2009 will be limited to cars with restricted power (power to weight ratio of 50Kw per tonne). In Italy Mito starts at €17,950.

Mito got its name from an internet competition. Mito represents the combination of two Italian cities namely Milan, where it was penned, and Torino (Turin) where it will be built.

In the flesh Mito is very handsome. The Fiat owned firm has gone to a lot of effort with what will be the volume seller. Time well spent I say.

The exterior has a striking similarity to the stunning Alfa Romeo 8C super car and has enough detailing to keep fashion conscious buyers busy for hours.

You can specify sport or premium packages and a near infinite amount of colour combinations for light surrounds and side mirrors. At just over 4 metres in length, the Mito is fun about town and a real attention grabber – yep it's an Alfa alright!

Inside the cabin is driver focused and with two interior styling options ('progression' or 'distinctive') the interior feels quite special for a super-mini and a million miles away from its Grande Punto origins. The boot has a very high sill but with such gorgeous styling we'll forgive it that. There's 270 litres of boot space, which is okay for a small car.

At a test drive in Monza I drove the two engines available in the three-door car. Both the diesel and petrol offerings are turbo charged and well capable of delivering enthusiastic performance. The brakes are beefy and the suspension firm but not jarring. Alfa Romeo has fitted additional tiny springs into the dampers to improve the ride and cut down body roll.

The 1.4 litre petrol pushes out 155bhp and is a real laugh behind the wheel, while at the same time very refined and liveable with. The 1.6 litre diesel is noisier but very torquey (320nm) not to mention frugal.

A 230bhp GTA (1.8 turbo) is on the way but I reckon this may prove too powerful in anything other that a straight line on a dry day bearing in mind the car has a torsion beam rear axle and short wheelbase. A DSG style gearbox option is in development and certainly would be top of my wish list for city driving especially.

Seven airbags and a host of safety features come as standard and Alfa Romeo expects a very high score at Euro NCAP when Mito is crash tested.

Mini, Fiat 500 and soon Mito represent the very top of the class in terms of small car styling. Expect a sub 20K price tag when it arrives, I'm looking forward to it.

Michael Sheridan