Alfa Romeo MiTo TwinAir - Road Tests - Motoring - The Independent

Alfa Romeo MiTo TwinAir

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

This alternative to mainstream small cars will stand out from the crowd

Engine: 0.9-litre petrol

Transmission: six-speed manual

Power: 85PS at 5,500rpm

Torque: 145Nm at 2,000rpm

Fuel consumption (combined cycle): 67.3mpg

CO2 emissions: 98g/km

Top speed: 108mph

Acceleration (0-62 mph): 12.5 seconds

Fiat’s TwinAir two-cylinder engine caused quite a stir when it appeared two years ago. It gave the first car to which it was fitted, the Fiat 500, a big dose of extra driving character to go with its distinctive appearance and pleased purists too - the 1957 Nuova 500, from which today’s 500 borrows its looks, had a two-cylinder engine as well, and the adoption of the TwinAir added enormously to the modern car’s pedigree.

But Fiat has always made it clear that the engine’s appearance in the 500 marked the beginning, rather than the end of the TwinAir story. One piece of the jigsaw, a less powerful normally-aspirated version of the 85 horsepower turbocharged engine that lives beneath the bonnet of the 500 TwinAir, has been talked about from the start but still hasn’t seen the light of day yet. In the meantime, though, Fiat has been getting on with rolling out the turbo version to its other small cars. First up was the Lancia Ypsilon (sold in the UK as a Chrysler), and this was quickly followed by the Fiat Panda. In those cars, the TwinAir kept its essential character and acquitted itself fairly well.

Now, though, more significant changes are coming through. First, there was the appearance just two weeks ago of a heftier 105 horsepower version of the TwinAir in the new Fiat 500L, a small semi-MPV that shares some of the 500’s design cues. That’s quite a big increase in power (the 875cc capacity of the TwinAir engine remains unchanged) but one that’s soaked up in the 500L by that car’s greater bulk compared with the 500. And the standard 85 horsepower TwinAir makes it into two more cars, the Fiat Punto and the Alfa Romeo MiTo, but with an important difference; these cars are fitted with a dual-mass flywheel.

In the Alfa, the dual-mass flywheel seems to give the TwinAir engine quite a different character; it still has the distinctive two-cylinder thrum, but feels a lot smoother and more grown up. The exhaust note sounds softer but sportier too, and the changes suit the MiTo, a posher car than the 500, rather well. On the road, the TwinAir retains its lively nature, even if the MiTo isn’t that quick in outright terms – as usual, the two-cylinder beat tricks you into thinking that the engine is turning over more slowly than it actually is and it’s easy to hit the rev-limiter even in normal driving. Short shifting to make use of the TwinAir’s torque is the best approach from the point of view of performance and economy, even if this is slightly counter-intuitive.

For the rest, the MiTo is much as before. Its unusual looks have worn well and make it an interesting alternative to mainstream small cars; the TwinAir engine helps it stand out from the crowd even more. And in case you’re wondering, Alfa is being rather cagey about when the more powerful 105-horsepower engine might make it into the MiTo, but the logic of such a move would appear to be irresistible. It looks as if there are a still a few more chapters of the TwinAir story to come.

Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
filmMatt Damon in talks to return
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Life and Style
tech... and together they're worth at least £100 million
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig is believed to be donning skies as 007 for the first time
Arts and Entertainment
Fringe show: 'Cilla', with Sheridan Smith in the title role and Aneurin Barnard as her future husband Bobby Willis
tvEllen E Jones on ITV's 'Cilla'
Life and Style
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
tech(but you can't escape: Bono is always on your iPhone)
Sport
Tim Wiese
sport
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Programme Test Manager

    £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are currently seekin...

    Secondary supply teachers needed in Peterborough

    £21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Secondary supply teac...

    Modern Foreign Languages Teacher

    £100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Group: Full time German Supply Teacher...

    Project Manager with some Agile experience

    £45000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsf...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week