Test: Alfa Romeo MiTo QV MY2014
It’s our second time behind the wheel of Alfa’s smallest fitted with the 1.4 MultiAir tickled to produce a healthy 170hp. Only this time, there is no longer a third pedal and there are flappy ones behind the steering wheel. Yes indeed, the MiTo QV now comes with Alfa’s TCT six-speed automatic transmission as standard. How does it affect the still funky-looking Alfa?
You still get an angrier looking exterior as opposed to a normal MiTo, accompanied by the well-functioning new touchscreen in the center console that all MY2014 models now get. Last time the QV was ours for a week, we had the rather excellent Sabelt-bucket seats supporting us. No such luck this time, unfortunately. Don’t get us wrong, the leather seats look lovely and are perfectly comfortable, but this kind of car screams for those even prettier and – more importantly – much more supportive Sabelt chairs. It adds to the specialness of the car and last but certainly not least, they’ll make sure you don’t end up halfway into the passenger seat after a swift left turn. Because my God, does this thing go around corners.
It has to be said that the weather was superb during our testing week with nothing but blue skies and therefore nice and dry roads, but the speed it could carry through corners was impressive regardless. Great body control, a sticky front end by means of the Q2 E-Diff and Brembo-brakes inspire large amounts of confidence, only let down by too little feel through the new flat-bottomed steering wheel and a slight whiff of understeer at the very limit. That limit is hard to be reached though, especially on our clunky Belgian roads where potholes and bumps held us back much more than the MiTo did. We praised the retired MiTo QV’s handling as well but feel like this new one has taken it another step further yet again.
Which brings us to the MiTo QVs real novelty; Alfa’s TCT, a dual dry clutch six-speed automatic with (a bit too tiny) flappy pedals. This is undeniably a matter of personal preference, but we do feel more connected to a small hot hatch when that left foot has its own pedal to control as well and the right hand has a stick to operate instead of a lever behind the steering wheel. All would be forgiven though if the TCT does its job flawlessly, but unfortunately it doesn’t quite. Drive the MiTo at the limit from red line to red line and it is impeccable. One instant shift follows the other with virtually no loss of acceleration while keeping your right foot planted on the throttle all the while. Where it does fall short is at lower speeds and more civilized driving behavior where gear switches take place somewhere below 4000 rpm. Not that it’s chunky in any way, but the transmission can take one or two seconds to answer to the flappy pedal’s demands in those conditions.
What it also lacks is some kind of launch control. Not that we want a simple button to take care of all things for us, but getting the MiTo off the line properly is something we didn’t manage one time over our entire week with it. Flooring the throttle and the break makes it rev to about 3000 rpm, but then releasing the brake doesn’t really make you take off. Instead you start rolling forward at an achingly slow pace and ten meters onwards the car starts to understand you want to get going. Very strange and something we had no trouble with in our previous manual MiTo QV where one could manage the throttle and clutch much more easily. The sprint to 100 is done 0,2 seconds faster than before, but that’s all down to the instant shifts at speed and certainly not thanks to its take off.
It’s a mixed bag then, this combination of the 1.4 MultiAir and the TCT. If you plan to use your MiTo QV during the weekends for some fun driving, it’s rather excellent. Its not to supple ride and slightly flawed TCT at urban speeds on the other hand make it not the perfect daily companion. An Abarth (595 if the bank account allows) would then be our choice; the ride is even a bit harsher in that, but at least you get a proper manual as standard (don’t opt for the automatic as that gives an entirely new meaning to the word ‘flawed’ altogether). Add the Record Monza-exhausts, Sabelt-seats and there’s your perfect toy for everyday usage at a slightly lower price than the MiTo QV. Don’t try keeping up with the little Alfa on twisty roads or on a circuit though…