Alan Candy road tests the nifty and rewarding Alfa Romeo MiTo TCT

Afa Romeo MiTo
Afa Romeo MiTo

It’s an Alfa, it’s red. What more could you want? But this particular MiTo model has one or two tricks up its sleeve that sets it apart.

MiTo is my favourite small Alfa of all time – even eclipsing the legendary Alfasud of yesteryear. But until I got my hands on the 1.4TB TCT, I had never driven one with a gearbox quite like this one.

Alfa Romeos are all about fast manual changes, right? Well no, actually, Or at least, not exclusively. There’s a growing niche market for clever and economical auto boxes and this particular one is very smart.

The MiTo TCT is the first model in the Alfa group that features a new six-speed dry dual clutch gearbox, used in conjunction with latest start&stop technology – a first for the type of car in the segment.

Light, and compact, it aids emissions and economy and although it is only expected to account for some 5% of sales at the moment, it could well have a growing set of admirers in years to come.

If you like, it bridges the gap between manual and auto transmissions by eliminating torque interruption while improving efficiency and drive quality, and making the most of performance and economy.

It’s also very versatile, with a choice of three driving styles available – normal, eco and sport, depending on the driver’s mood and the conditions encountered.

I certainly found it a lot of fun and choosing the way you want the car to behave makes everyday driving more interesting and challenging.

As you might expect from Alfa Romeo, there are no shortages of fun and excitement.

The Alfa TCT accelerates to 62mph in a pretty rapid 8.2 seconds, with a top speed of 129mph, and the revvy engine has a terrific soundtrack that adds a touch of frisson to the experience.

The three driving modes are selected via a smart steel slide on the centre console and the test car was also fitted with small racing paddles behind the steering wheel for more direct and punchy response if the mood takes you.

MiTo, with its cartoon character oval eyes, iconic six-bar grille and famed Alfa badge and quirky, offset front number plate, is an unmistakable and great looking little car.

It’s also toughly built, with two of the heaviest front doors I’ve ever come across in a vehicle this size.

Curvaceous slopes of the lush dashboard are very feminine and the rev counter takes pride of place on the dashboard, with large numbers reminding you of the power you are putting down.

Glaring red-lit info between the main dials isn’t easy on the eyes, though.

Curvy big sports seats are very huggy and big wings and ample thigh support means you will always be well shored up through the bends and able to sit back in comfort on long runs.

I was able to find an immediate good driving position - not always a given in an Alfa – and enjoyed the car’s terrier-like handling and grip.

A new style of driving from a familiar name – a winning combination, in my book.

MODEL: Alfa Romeo MiTo 1.4 TB MultiAir 135bhp TCT.

PRICE: £17,500.

power: 1,368cc four-cylinder petrol engine producing 135bhp @ 5,250rpm and 230Nm of torque @ 1,750rpm.

performance: 0-62mph in 8.2 secs; top speed 129mph.

CO2 emissions: 126 g/km.

CONSUMPTION: Combined 51.4mpg.

key features: Alfa TCT is a lightweight six-speed transmission, dual clutch unit.