In a supermini 170bhp is always going to be fun, but in the funky little MiTo Cloverleaf it's a blast!
Motors took a short flight over to Glasgow to test the latest version of the front-wheel drive MiTo from Alfa Romeo. The main reason for the test was the new petrol engine technology called 'Multi Air'. These days we are used to variable valve technology that controls fuel flow in an engine, but Multi Air, by controlling the amount of air that mixes with fuel in each cylinder, produces very efficient power. Now you can get a 1.4-litre turbocharged MiTo with either 135bhp or 170bhp (Cloverleaf version) Multi Air that is Euro 5 emissions compliant - so both versions are nippy and green.
Multi Air uses less fuel, yet produces more power than conventional rivals by regulating precisely how air is used in the combustion process. This technology is very significant and should see the Italian firm honoured 'left, right and centre' for engineering innovation. I'll spare you the fine mechanical details concerning lobes and solenoids (phew!!!) but trust me, it is impressive.
On a dull Scottish day, with snow on the hills and greasy driving conditions, the highly specified Cloverleaf was a hoot. It takes just 7.5 seconds to go 0-100 km/h and top speed is 220km/h. Thankfully the four-cylinder Cloverleaf comes with a host of driver aids like active suspension and an electronic front differential to help get the power down safely. Stop/Start features also to help reduce emissions when stationary.
The test route took us from Glasgow to the coast and back and started from the Blythswood Square hotel that was once the home of the Royal Scottish Automobile Club. The RSAC provided one of the starting points in the 1955 Monte Carlo Rally - a race in which more than one Italian manufacturer enjoyed success. Resisting the urge to head for Monaco, we took to the planned route.
The Cloverleaf MiTo is a very eager machine, producing a class-leading 124bhp per tonne. In fact, in terms of power to weight ratios, the Cloverleaf is the most powerful production Alfa to date! While there is a certain amount of torque steer, it is not an outrageous amount as say in the Alfa 147 GTA - which can't really be exploited fully in the real world. A shorter test drive in the 135bhp MiTo confirmed it is a super alternative to the hotter Cloverleaf. It has 15bhp more than the original MiTo 1.4 Turbo and is very user friendly. Despite losing a gear to the six-speed Cloverleaf, you get to enjoy the rev range more in everyday use. The 135bhp Multi Air is still a very eager car and can run rings around most of the competition in its class (0-100 in 8.4 seconds).
MiTo also gets a few subtle makeover touches to freshen up the car. There are trim changes and other modifications out of sight like improved steering, brakes, suspension and gear throw on the Cloverleaf. MiTo has helped Alfa Romeo UK alter its predominately male buyer bias as the posh supermini has a 55:45 male to female split.
Alfa's top of the range MiTo Cloverleaf, or as the Italians call it "Quadrifoglio Verde", emblem is back with a vengeance and well worth a closer look.