The new model, designed by the Alfa Romeo style centre in Arese, is the first all-new model to be built since the 8C Competizione – Alfa Romeo’s icon of style and technology, from which it borrows certain characteristic traits: The frameless side windows, the three-lobed motif that distinguishes the front bumper, the shape of the headlights and the LED tail-lights.
The headlight and tail-light surrounds represent a distinctive personalised feature: best described as an eye-liner effect framing the lights that underscores the car’s style and aggression.
Available exclusively with three doors, the Alfa Romeo MiTo is remarkable for its compact size (4.06m long, 1.44m high and 1.72m wide). These measurements find stylistic expression in the highly sculpted and skilfully moulded surfaces. In detail, the body is given extra dynamism by the horizontal furrow cut into the side above the front wheel arch. The big wheels and powerful muscularity of the rear wings emphasise the model’s personality and strength without detracting from the lines that flow smoothly, almost as though to underscore the formal good looks of the individual exterior details: the drop-shaped headlight embedded, gem-like, in the front wing and the LED tail-lights that are a blend of technology and rationalism.
The Alfa Romeo MiTo also offers other distinctive traits that define its strong personality and make it immediately recognisable in accordance with the specific canons of the brand. Beginning with a strong, spare front end dominated by the unmistakable Alfa family feeling, represented by a distinctive trefoil with the shield in the centre.
The equally distinctive profile gives the model the appearance of an agile, solid and protective car. This is due, above all, to a pronounced shelf on the side that makes the car look slender and dynamic. Taut lines that meet at the rear and the small area of glass (compared to the large extent of metal at the side) accentuate the wedge-shaped configuration and ensure an out-and-out sporty appearance.
The rear end also has a lot to say stylistically. The rear of the Alfa Romeo MiTo features a small rear screen supported by powerful shoulders that frame the round, racing-style lights. The bumper houses a large extractor grille which is highly three-dimensional and located just under a lip in the bodywork that further enhances the car’s great personality.
The solutions introduced on the Alfa Romeo MiTo to achieve the highest levels of aerodynamic efficiency are not limited to the shape. Air wraps around the car and follows its natural course, unhindered by corners and unevenness. All the pillar and glass surfaces and profiles together with the door mirror shape and position have been optimised by mathematical modelling and also by wind tunnel tests. The final outcome is a Cd of 0.29 that confirms the sporting qualities of the compact Alfa Romeo.
The Alfa Romeo style centre also developed new colours to emphasise the shape of the Alfa Romeo MiTo that match the car’s sinuous shape while also suggesting modernity and a hint of technology. The all-important red shade comes in two versions: the traditional non-metallic Alfa Red and the lighter Giulietta red, a reminder of Alfa Romeo’s glorious past, conferring a young and sporty character on this model. The white has also been reformulated and is available in two versions: a warmer non-metallic and an even more luxurious pearlised version. Grey, the ultimate hi-tech colour, is available in two forms: a very sporty coarse-grained grey and a paler, more shiny grey.
Black comes in a conventional non-metallic version as well as a new shade, created using a micalised red undercoat that gleams through the black in the sunlight. The Blue colour palette is represented by a very stylish pale pearlised blue. And lastly a special new colour for the new compact Alfa: an intense, warm, deep yellow.
Customers who wish to customise their car still further can, for the first time on an Alfa Romeo, choose between different finishes for the headlight and tail-light frames (eg chrome, opaque black and titanium grey, plus the body shades). Similarly, the door mirror caps can also be ordered as an option in shiny or satinised chrome, opaque black and titanium grey. These alternative finishes are available as dealer accessories.
The light clusters on the Alfa Romeo MiTo are also worthy of a separate mention as they are veritable gems of design and engineering. The front headlights are available in two versions: the first with halogen bulbs, the second with xenon bulbs (optional) that offer an improved light emission quality and excellent performance in all weathers. In a gas discharge bulb, the usual internal filament is replaced by two electrodes spaced a few millimetres apart. These generate a voltaic discharge in an environment saturated with low-pressure xenon gas. These devices offer three times more brightness and duration than normal headlights with a halogen bulb.
The front headlights offer a daytime light function (Daytime Running Lights) that automatically turn on the special low energy bulbs to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions when the engine is started up: it should be emphasised that this function complies with the specific European regulation that is due to come into force in 2012.
The tail-lights on the Alfa Romeo MiTo also display careful styling and state-of-the-art technology. The tail-light clusters, produced by Magneti Marelli Automotive Lighting, are circular in shape to create a sporty impression that is also reminiscent of Alfa Romeo tradition. The lights are fitted with LED bulbs that offer greater brightness than conventional bulbs and come on faster when the car brakes. This ensures greater safety and distinctive good looks.
For the interiors, the keynote is sportsmanship and style
The interiors, created by the Alfa Romeo Style Centre, take driving position as their starting point and make the driver the centre of attention: excellent distance ratio between pedal, seat, steering wheel and gearlever allow a perception of full control to ensure a typically Alfa Romeo standard of driving satisfaction. The central console also encloses the controls of the climate control system, radio, gear lever and Alfa D.N.A. system. The circular analogue speedometer and rev counter on the dashboard are also linked by a high resolution reconfigurable digital display, and perfect lighting (red or white, according to the version) guarantees clear, easy reading of all the instrumentation, particularly at night. And finally, hand position and grip are perfect on the three-spoke steering wheel (leather-covered of course!), even when negotiating difficult manoeuvres.
The interiors of the new model also represent a perfect balance between style and sportiness, a dialectic that the Alfa Romeo translates into a sophisticated combination of colours, top-quality fabrics and superb materials. As an option, it is also possible to choose superb quality upholstery in Poltrona Frau® (available in Black, Red and Natural leather), a touch of exclusivity that combines the Alfa Romeo brand with one of the most famous Italian designer labels in the world: the final result is a life-enhancing environment with a very hand-crafted look.
The dashboard breaks down into two parts: a rigid outer casing and a soft-touch inset (resembling woven carbon fibre) that is colour co-ordinated according to the three interior trim colours (black, red and blue).
The seats feature a juxtaposition of materials that can be seen and felt upon touch. The outer skins are smooth and silky with a clean, opaque-coloured look. The central part is always trimmed with the most opulent materials: a carbon fibre design has been printed onto the microfibre to create an outstanding contrast of shiny/opaque. The feel is unique, sporty due to the underlying microfibre and silky due to the shiny fibre on the surface. The MiTo also features the essential Alfa Romeo logo, repositioned on the inner part of the seat as on the 8C Competizione. The logo is embroidered with a contrasting thread.
It should be emphasised that the front and rear seats on the Alfa Romeo MiTo have been designed to guarantee the best comfort for each passenger percentile. This was possible by working in close contact with the best Italian specialists in ergonomics and sports medicine. To promote comfort and above all the absorption of vibrations, the front seats come with a new system for holding up the lumbar area that promotes back support. Not to mention the fact that the front seat padding can adapt to the body’s shape and offer an anti-submarining configuration that prevents the body sliding forward beneath the seat belt in the event of a violent head-on impact.
The following adjustments are possible on the front seats: ride; reach (with a total travel of no less than 240 mm); backrest tilt (by means of a wheel that allows continuous adjustment) – and lumbar (standard on the driver’s seat and optional on the passenger seat).
The front driver’s seat is also equipped with height adjustment and both front seats feature the S.A.H.R. (Self Aligning Head Restraint) system that moves the head restraint closer to the neck of seat occupants to lessen the effect of whiplash in the event of impact.
The rear seat also offers an antisubmarining structure and features padding of differential stiffness according to the seat area occupied (this parameter measures the ability of the padding to yield beneath the body’s weight). The rear seats are fitted with Isofix attachments for child seats while the head restraints are sliding saddle type.
Last but not least, the car’s compact size does not detract in any way from the overall roominess that is at the top of its category as evidenced, for example, by the outstanding amount of room available for rear passengers. The Alfa Romeo MiTo also offers a number of convenient compartments of various sizes to accommodate small and medium-sized items. The luggage compartment on the new Alfa Romeo is also impressive for its regular shape and 270 litres of capacity.
The innovative Alfa D.N.A. system
The new model is the first Alfa Romeo car to benefit from the Alfa D.N.A. system, an innovative device that modulates the main driving parameters (engine response, stability control and power steering)
Until now the exclusive preserve of racing cars or supercars, the Alfa D.N.A. system acts on the engine, brakes, steering, suspension and gearbox, allowing three different vehicle behaviour modes based on the driving style best suited to the situation or the customer’s wishes: supersporting (Dynamic), town driving (Normal), maximum safety even in low grip conditions (All weather).
The selector is located in an ergonomic position – in front of the gear lever on the tunnel – and allows one of the three modes to be selected by simply moving the lever (the choice is displayed by the lighting of a specific led and also by a message on the control panel). In detail, for those who desire a relaxed drive in total safety, in Normal mode the individual components involved in the Alfa D.N.A. system are as follows: engine tuned for performance, very slight Vehicle Dynamic Control and DST (Dynamic Steering Torque) alert to prevent oversteer.
If you prefer to use your Alfa Romeo MiTo for more sporty applications, all you have to do is move the lever to Dynamic position: when in this mode, the Alfa D.N.A. offers a unique driving experience because the system makes the VDC and ASR less intrusive (this means the vehicle dynamics are a little more free of the electronic control) and simultaneously activates the Q2 Electronic system. Still in Dynamic mode, the Alfa D.N.A. also acts on the steering and engine to offer a truly comprehensive and entertaining sporting experience. The steering is less power-assisted and offers a more sporty sensation to ensure perfect control. Last but not least, the engine becomes even more responsive with an even prompter response thanks to an over-boost facility that allows the driver to use the full 230 Nm of torque Altogether, the Alfa Romeo MiTo with Dynamic selection is the ideal choice for entertainment in full safety.
Lastly, the third mode accentuates the effect of traction control and increases sensitivity to wheel spin (this DST active electronic steering function cuts in when driving over surfaces with different levels of grip (in winter, for example, it is often the case that two wheels are on ice while the other two are on asphalt). When ‘All Weather’ is selected on the selector, the Alfa D.N.A. system makes the car easier to control over road surfaces with low grip (e.g. on wet surfaces or snow), taking action to control vehicle dynamics because the VDC cut-in threshold is lowered.
The new Alfa Romeo MiTo suspension systems
One of the briefs given to the designers allocated to the ‘Alfa Romeo MiTo’ project was to create a suspension capable of higher-category performance levels. The devices therefore had to ensure great driving ease and precision, outstanding road-holding and the best possible acoustic and vibrational comfort. Hence the choice of two tried and tested layouts – a MacPherson layout at the front and a semi-independent layout with torsion beam at the rear. This choice was made to guarantee ease of driving and maximum weight containment, guaranteeing the handling goals that Alfa Romeo cars have always strived to attain.
In particular the following operations have been carried out to add an exclusive touch to the Alfa Romeo MiTo suspension system. Firstly, the ground tracks are amongst the widest within the relevant segment (front equal to 1483 mm and rear equal to 1475 mm) to emphasise the promptness of response, stability and control even under extreme conditions. The rim channels are also wide in relation to the size of the tyres in order to optimise the handing performance of the tyres, while the stiff, low front or rear springs give the vehicle a sporting ride and feeling in terms of appearance and function. The rear torsion beam with ‘C’ cross section also features high torsional stiffness to enable it also to act as an anti roll bar, thus ensuring optimum roll performance and helping maximise the promptness of response. Lastly, and certainly the most distinctive feature of the Alfa Romeo MiTo suspension, the front and rear shock absorbers feature a coilover fitted inside the shock absorber that acts in parallel with the main spring during the extension travel with the main purpose of reducing roll.
The Alfa Romeo MiTo adopts a MacPherson configuration that certainly represents the best front suspension solution for front-wheel drive transverse-engined minis. This solution optimally safeguards the space inside the engine compartment while simultaneously guaranteeing an excellent compromise in terms of handling and comfort due to the kinematic configuration that is similar in certain respects to that of the more sophisticated double wishbone layout – and also due to the reciprocal distance to the attachment points on the body.
In particular, the main components of this structural configuration are as follows:
- Two-part wishbones in pressed steel (with a patented ‘butterfly’ construction configuration), offering a considerable weight saving;
- A front suspension beam offering great structural stiffness with the transverse link near the front arm attachments;
- Split dome pads (dual-path configuration) to filter out road vibrations more effectively while ensuring high structural stiffness to benefit driving precision;
• Anti-roll stabiliser bar with rods equipped with ball links for anchorage to the shock absorbers that allow greater stabilising efficiency and a more prompt dynamic response when cornering;
- Coil springs produced using the side-load method for optimisation of the thrust axis with the aim of reducing tangential forces on the shock absorber pushrod and thus internal friction (system hysteresis) with consequent better absorption of minor road surface roughness;
- All versions are fitted with double-acting telescopic hydraulic shock absorbers with a 22 mm rod diameter for great lateral stiffness to promote good road holding on corners, with a rebound spring fitted inside that operates when the shock absorber is under compression to help reduce roll.
The semi-independent, torsion beam architecture represents an outstanding rear suspension solution for front wheel drive minis because it takes up less room, guarantees lower weights and also offers a good compromise in terms of handling and comfort. These benefits are guaranteed by the torsion beam that changes shape to allow the wheels to follow road surface roughness while also reacting to the torsion to perform the function of an anti-roll bar.
In detail, the components characteristic of the Alfa Romeo MiTo rear suspension include a torsion beam with C-shaped cross-section for great torsional stiffness and pressed wishbones made out of two halves; differential stiffness slotted bushes for securing the rear axle to the body to ensure good filtering of longitudinal roughness and great stiffness in the event of lateral loads to optimise stability – and lastly, very stiff coil springs to ensure a sporting ride.
The front and rear shock absorbers with coilover springs fitted as standard over the whole range feature a spring between pipe and pushrod, that is secured to one end of the tube in the upper part of the shock absorber and acts during the extension stroke. The point at which the spring starts to act changes according to the length of the spring, which therefore acts in parallel to the main suspension spring.
In detail, fixing the length of the internal shock absorber spring and thus the point at which it acts effectively stabilises the driving condition when the internal shock absorbers spring begins to act and thus contributes to overall vehicle rigidity. As a consequence, fixing the point at which the springs begin to take effect on shock absorbers with coilover springs and producing a car that behaves like a conventional car under normal driving conditions. Under sporty driving conditions, however, the shock absorbers come into play by increasing rollover stiffness, thus benefiting dynamic performance. In the event of high lateral acceleration levels, the Alfa Romeo MiTo equipped with contracting shock absorbers therefore behaves in much the same way as a conventional car with stiffer suspension tuning. In situations where the lateral acceleration values are lower, the shock absorber coilover springs do not cut in and the Alfa Romeo MiTo, unlike cars with stiffer suspension tuning, does not penalise comfort under non-sporting driving conditions.
Another aspect that deserves highlighting is the fact that when the shock absorber coilover springs intervene during a cornering manoeuvre, only the inner wheel shock absorber springs work (by stretching) while the outer wheel shock absorbers do not work (remaining compressed). Under such conditions, the stiffness configuration is therefore asymmetrical and this alters the car’s dynamics during rollover motion, with two consequences: the outer wheels sit more firmly on the road to promote tyre grip (and the hence the transmissible lateral forces) and the roll centres are lower for greater stability.