The Alfa Romeo MiTo is already a global success story. Sold in 34 countries and on five different continents, it has won wide acclaim for its unprecedented fusion of head-turning high end style, engineering flair, dynamic performance and driving pleasure.

And now, Alfa has moved the game on again, bringing revolutionary MultiAir technology and a raft of technical innovations to the world’s sportiest compact car. The evolution underlines the company’s on-going commitment to reconcile lower emissions and fuel consumption with higher performance and driver satisfaction for an increasingly extensive, smart and environmentally aware audience.

The new Euro 5-ready 1.4-litre MultiAir engine, developed and patented by Fiat Powertrain Technologies (FPT), made its international debut in the MiTo late last year, and is initially offered in two turbocharged forms for the UK market. The 135bhp version of the unit powers the £15,165 Lusso and £16,135 Veloce, while the range-topping £17,895 Cloverleaf – an auspicious return for the iconic badge close to every Alfista’s heart – boasts 170bhp and a 0-62mph time of just 7.5 seconds, but a combined fuel consumption of 47.1 mpg.

In addition to MultiAir, the new MiTo range showcases a broad spectrum of innovative technologies, including active suspension on the Cloverleaf (a first for this class of car), the emission-reducing Start&Stop system across the range, and Alfa Romeo DNA. Derived from racing, this three-mode electronic system communicates with the engine, brakes, steering, suspension (on MiTo Cloverleaf), and transmission, allowing the driver to adjust the responses of the car to suit driving style and road conditions.

Alfa’s Electronic Q2 limited slip differential heads a number of dynamic driver aids, including a long list of safety systems. Together with the MacPherson strut/torsion beam suspension layout, these all help deliver the handling dynamics and sure-footed road holding capabilities you’d expect from an Alfa, whatever the road. Designed to satisfy the highest Euro NCAP crash safety rating, the MiTo also offers optimum passive safety.

The model’s high level of engineering integrity can also be appreciated through the series of improvements that have further increased the quality of the Alfa MiTo. Improvements embrace the interior finish, trim combinations, and gearchange quality (the lever on the MiTo Cloverleaf has been shortened by 2.5 centimetres) as well as modifications to the steering, suspension and braking systems.

WHY MULTIAIR?

The Holy Grail for any engineering endeavour is to have your cake and eat it – to unify seemingly incompatible goals. For the Fiat Group’s engine designers, FPT, the quest has been clear cut: how to deliver high performance and driveablity while, at the same time, significantly reducing emissions and fuel consumption.

The key to achieving this is well understood. It requires taking more precise control of the quantity and characteristics of the air drawn into the cylinders in the combustion cycle. There are numerous electro-mechanical variable valve timing systems in production today that seek to achieve this. But because they usually have only two operating regimes, they are severely limited by the degree of flexibility they can exercise in the valve opening schedules.

MultiAir eliminates these compromises by metering the direct air charge at the cylinder inlet ports with an advanced electro-hydraulic actuation and control system that has no fewer than five basic parameters, and the ability to optimally adjust valve timing and lift between them to exactly suit different engine speeds and loads, ensuring strong low- and mid-range torque and vigorous top-end power, combined with good economy and low emissions.

This is a transformational technology comparable to the introduction of FPT’s common rail fueling for diesels, but the principles behind it are as simple as they are ingenious. MultiAir engines have just one camshaft with three lobes allocated to each cylinder. The first two control the two exhaust valves in the conventional way, while the third defines the maximum possible lift and opening duration of the two inlet valves. It also acts on a small piston that sends engine oil, via pressurised hydraulic channels, to additional pistons located just above the inlet valves.

Four solenoid valves – one for each cylinder under individual control from the Magneti Marelli ECU engine management system – can be opened at any point during the inlet valve’s movement to bleed off the oil. Varying the oil flow instantly and precisely controls the opening and closing of the valves between the parameter extremes mechanically described by the camshaft lobe for optimum results.

MultiAir can even open the inlet valve twice in one intake stroke, when running at low speeds and loads around town, to create more swirl of the intake mixture, enabling it to burn more completely.

MultiAir strategies

  • When the solenoid valve is closed, the oil in the hydraulic chamber behaves like a solid body and acts on the intake valves in accordance with the profile of the cam lobe.
  • When the solenoid valve is open, the hydraulic chamber and the intake valves are de-coupled; the valves no longer follow the cam profile.
  • By controlling the solenoid closing period, various optimal intake valve opening schedules can be realised.

MULTIAIR IN ACTION

Different strategies can be employed to optimise combustion efficiency, according to varying driving situations –

FULL LIFT – for maximum power, the Solenoid Valve is always closed and full valve opening is achieved by completely following the mechanical cam, which was specifically designed to maximise power at high engine speed; i.e: motorway driving.

EIVC (Early Intake Valve Closing)- for low-rpm torque, the Solenoid Valve is opened near the end of the cam profile, leading to early intake valve closing. This eliminates unwanted backflow into the manifold and maximises the air mass trapped in the cylinders; i.e: during acceleration.

LIVO (Late Intake Valve Opening) – in engine part-load, the Solenoid Valve is opened earlier causing partial valve openings to control the trapped air mass as a function of the required torque.

PARTIAL LOAD – the intake valves can be partially opened by closing the Solenoid Valve once the mechanical cam action has already started. In this case the air stream into the cylinder is faster and results in higher in-cylinder turbulence; i.e: at engine start up or idling.

MULTI-LIFT – Multiple opening strategies are used to enhance turbulence and combustion rate at very low loads. The advantage is a significant reduction in fuel consumption and emissions in the urban cycle; i.e: city driving.

MultiAir makes the difference: 1.4 TB MultiAir 135bhp compared to the 1.4 TB 120bhp

  • CO2 reduced by over 10%
  • Max power increased by 12.5%
  • Acceleration (0-62mph) reduced by up 0.4 seconds
  • Better throttle response, less turbo lag
  • Fuel consumption reduced by up to 10%

THE NEXT GENERATION – MULTIAIR ENGINES

The MiTo’s new range of MultiAir engines are based on the Fiat Group’s established 1.4-litre ‘FIRE’ block. The MultiAir top-end is modular and designed to be fitted to existing engines. From launch, the engine has been available with three power outputs, starting with the 105bhp non-turbo unit. For the UK market, however, the choice for Alfa Romeo customers is between the two turbocharged versions.

Striking an unbeatable balance between spirited, sporty performance and fine economy, the 135bhp version of this engine that powers the MiTo Lusso and Veloce is outstandingly flexible and responsive and pulls vigorously from low engine speeds, posting a class-leading 0-62mph time of 8.4 seconds and a top speed of 129mph. This excellent performance dovetails perfectly with respect for the environment, reflected in CO2 emissions of just 129 g/km and a combined fuel consumption of 50.4 mpg.

The 170bhp MultiAir powerplant fitted exclusively to the range-topping Cloverleaf is even more exceptional, with a specific power output of 124bhp/litre which is not only a first for this class of car but also the highest value ever recorded for a production Alfa. Combined with a new fast-shifting, short-travel six-speed gearbox, the Cloverleaf’s powertrain exemplifies the philosophy of downsizing: producing hi-tech turbocharged engines to increase performance while slashing fuel consumption and emissions. The results achieved by this strategy are impressive by any standard. A CO2 figure of 139 g/km and 59mpg over the extra-urban cycle are closer to what you might expect from a small city car than a sporty hatchback capable of sprinting from 0-62 mph in 7.5 seconds and powering on to 136mph.

This MiTo Cloverleaf MultiAir’s 170bhp engine gives it a class-leading power/weight ratio of 6.7 kg/hp which is almost 10% better than the already excellent performance of the current 155 bhp 1.4 TB. Peak power of 170bhp is developed at 5,500rpm, and is supported by up to 184lb.ft of torque at 2,500rpm, delivering 47.1mpg on the combined cycle.

These statistics are particularly significant because they prove the effectiveness of downsizing to produce high-tech engines with better performance allied to sharp reductions in fuel consumption and emissions, giving the MiTo Cloverleaf an unbeatable performance/consumption ratio.

DRIVING DYNAMICS

Key to the sporting handling and ride characteristics of the MiTo is its suspension layout: MacPherson struts at the front and a semi-independent layout with torsion beam at the rear. To emphasise the promptness of response, stability and control, even under extreme conditions, MiTo’s track widths are among the widest in the segment – 1483mm front and 1475mm rear. The wheel rims are also wide in relation to the size of the tyres in order to optimise the latter’s handling performance. The MiTo also has a sporting yet pliant ride, and the torsion beam features high torsional stiffness to enable it to also act as an anti-roll bar, thereby ensuring optimum roll performance and helping maximise the promptness of response.

The most distinctive feature of the MiTo’s suspension is that the front and rear dampers feature coilover springs fitted inside the damper that act in parallel with the main spring during extension travel, with the main purpose of reducing roll and increasing chassis response. Special dual-acting telescopic hydraulic dampers are fitted as standard on all versions.

DNA

The MiTo’s innovative DNA system offers three distinct ‘vehicle personalities’ tailored to driving style and the prevailing road characteristics and conditions: Dynamic (sporting), Normal (suburban/town driving) and All weather (maximum safety, especially in low-grip conditions). A three-position switch, situated beside the gearlever, alters the throttle response and steering set-up for the different driving environments. In Dynamic mode, the throttle response is quicker, the steering is sharper and the handling is more direct. For icy and loose surface environments the All Weather mode provides a more gentle response.

Dynamic

VDC & ASRLess intrusive VDC and ASR – Electronic Q2 activation
Electric power steeringSportier tuning
DSTStandard braking control coordinated with ABS

Greater control of lateral acceleration

Oversteer correction: slight pressure through the steering wheel encourages driver to steer in the correct direction

EngineFaster response
SuspensionSynaptic Damping Control – sport suspension set-up (MiTo Cloverleaf only)

Normal

VDC & ASRStandard setting
Electric power steeringNormal tuning
DSTStandard braking control coordinated with ABS

Standard control of lateral acceleration

Oversteer correction: slight pressure through the steering wheel encourages driver to steer in the correct direction

EngineStandard response
SuspensionSynaptic Damping Control – normal suspension set-up (MiTo Cloverleaf only)

All weather

VDC & ASRMore intrusive VDC, less intrusive ASR
Electric power steeringNormal tuning
DSTStandard braking control coordinated with VDC

Standard control of lateral acceleration

Oversteer correction: slight pressure through the steering wheel encourages driver to steer in the correct direction

EngineNormal throttle response
SuspensionSynaptic Damping Control – normal suspension set-up (MiTo Cloverleaf only)

VDC (Vehicle Dynamic Control) is Alfa Romeo’s version of ESP (Electronic Stability Program), a system that activates under extreme conditions when vehicle stability is at risk, helping the driver to control the car. Permanently engaged, VDC allows the driver the full satisfaction of controlling the car as long as conditions are normal, but cuts in just before a situation becomes critical.

ASR (Anti Slip Regulation) is an integral part of the VDC and optimises traction at any speed with the aid of the brakes and throttle. The system computes the degree of slip on the basis of wheel revolutions calculated by the ABS sensors, and activates two different control systems to restore grip.

CBC (Cornering Brake Control) comes into play when the car takes a corner while under heavy braking. In this case, brake pressure is discharged on each wheel individually to maintain vehicle stability, minimising any understeer or oversteer behaviour.

DST (Dynamic Steering Torque) improves both driving safety and handling performance through continuous interaction between the electric power steering (which generates torque at the steering wheel) and electronic control of dynamics (VDC). In detail, DST automatically makes corrections, helps to maintain vehicle control and ensures that the VDC activates unobtrusively.

Electronic Q2 improves the transfer of drive torque to the wheels and, in particular, guarantees excellent cornering behaviour, thus making the car safer and more entertaining during a sporty drive or when grip is poor. When accelerating in a bend, the front braking system acts on the inner wheel to increase traction on the outer wheel (bearing the highest load), and therefore distributes torque between the front driven wheels in a continuous, dynamic manner according to driving and road surface conditions.

START&STOP

The MiTo’s Start&Stop technology makes its debut combined with MultiAir engines for the first time on an Alfa Romeo. The system turns off the engine whenever the vehicle is stationary and idling in neutral, then restarts it automatically when the clutch is depressed. Start&Stop can be deactivated at will by the driver but, when active, achieves notable reductions in fuel consumption, emissions and noise pollution.

GEAR SHIFT INDICATOR – GSI

The Gear Shift Indicator (GSI) linked to Start&Stop discreetly suggests to the driver when to change gear – leading to more efficient use of the engine in terms of fuel consumption. The indicator is located on the control panel and is active in Normal and All Weather DNA settings. This device promotes improved gear selection resulting in improved driving performance and engine efficiency.

NEW AUTOMATIC GEARBOX TECHNOLOGY – ALFA TCT

From spring 2010, the 135bhp engine of the MiTo Lusso and Veloce will be available with Alfa Twin Clutch Technology (ALFA TCT), a dual dry clutch gearbox that has no clutch pedal and uses sophisticated electronics and hydraulics to control the clutches. In operation it can be used like a conventional automatic or controlled manually via a shift lever or steering wheel paddles.

The clutches operate independently. One clutch controls the ‘odd’ gears (1st, 3rd, 5th and reverse) while the other controls the ‘even’ gears (2nd, 4th and 6th). This means that the gears can be changed without interrupting the power flow from the engine to the transmission, resulting in increased shift speeds with no loss of power, reduced driver fatigue in heavy traffic, and an improvement in economy because no power is wasted between shifts.

In addition, torque power is increased by over 10% with the ALFA TCT to 230Nm compared to 206Nm with the standard manual gearbox.

POWER AND PASSION – THE CLOVERLEAF RETURNS

The ‘Quadrifoglio Verde’ (Cloverleaf) is an iconic symbol dear to Alfa aficionados that evokes the history of a brand with a rich racing and motorsport heritage. Appropriately, it finds its new home with the fastest and most powerful MiTo, the 170bhp MultiAir Cloverleaf.

This is the MiTo MultiAir that most dramatically illustrates the power of innovative solutions to reconcile high performance and driving pleasure with economy and a low impact on the environment – 139g/km of CO2. It’s all the more remarkable when you consider that the MiTo MultiAir Cloverleaf is powered by an engine with one of the highest specific outputs in the segment and a chassis equipped with features hitherto unthinkable for a car in this class.

A new active suspension system controls the dampers to redefine the vehicle’s dynamic capabilities under all driving conditions and raises standards of safety, comfort and handling to new levels. The system, developed as a joint venture between Alfa Romeo and Magneti Marelli, draws on the extraordinary experience both companies have accrued in motorsport throughout the world.

The MiTo Cloverleaf’s visual cues are subtle, incorporating green carbonfibre-style cloverleaf badges and exclusive 17″ darkened alloy wheels reminiscent of those fitted to the Alfa 8C Competizione. Among the things you can’t see are the new adaptive dampers and a new six-speed gearbox.

NEW SIX-SPEED GEARBOX

The technological qualities of the Alfa MiTo Cloverleaf’s engine are fully exploited by the next-generation C635 six-speed gearbox. Developed by FPT and manufactured at the Verrone factory in Italy, this groundbreaking mechanical unit is the first result of a design philosophy aimed at improving drivability, consumption levels and production flexibility.

The new gearbox ensures clean and swift shifts with a very short action, even weightings, and superb noise and vibration suppression. In addition, modern design and construction techniques help to significantly reduce consumption levels thanks to less friction and optimum gear ratios. Its debut in the Alfa MiTo 170 bhp 1.4 MultiAir TB marks the debut of a modern family of gearboxes adapted for a broad range of models.

ACTIVE SUSPENSION

Motor sport has always been a testing ground for new technologies, which have found their way from the world’s most famous racetracks to standard road cars. One example of this transfer between two seemingly very different worlds is dynamic adaptive suspension. This system, which actively and continuously controls the electronic dampers, was developed by combining Alfa Romeo development testing at the historic Balocco test track and the Nürburgring, with the latest engineering techniques from Magneti Marelli.

The MiTo Cloverleaf is the first vehicle in this sector to have active suspension as standard. Using five independent accelerometer sensors located on the front two shock absorbers, rear centre and rear bulkheads, the adaptive damping system continuously monitors and controls the car’s dampers, helping to contain both lateral body roll and longitudinal movement.

Each shock absorber works independently of the others, stiffening when required by an electronic signal that moves oil into a chamber of the absorber or removes oil from the chamber for softened suspension (on/off system). The four electronically controlled dampers, five accelerometric sensors and an electronic control unit interface with the MiTo’s other on-board electronic systems to continuously monitor the road conditions and adjust the suspensions settings to give optimum performance and ride.

The suspension interacts with the three different control strategies of the Alfa DNA. system, enhancing ride comfort in ‘Normal’ mode, increasing safety and security in the ‘All weather’ setting by continuously interacting with the VDC system, steering and suspension, and sharpening responsiveness and agility with it switched to ‘Dynamic’.

To sum up, the Dynamic Suspension system effectively optimises comfort and handling by adapting suspension behaviour in accordance with the road surface and driver input. The system achieves this by altering the load distribution of the four dampers to enhance handling and grip. Moreover, the system manages longitudinal dynamic control by adjusting the movement of the chassis during acceleration, braking and gear changes, and by integrating with the VDC, steering and braking systems.

MITO MULTIAIR RANGE

Although the entry-level Turismo versions continue in the MiTo line-up, the MultiAir-engined versions come to the UK as the Lusso, Veloce and Cloverleaf. Building on the Turismo’s long and comprehensive specification list – which includes DNA, Electronic Q2, VDC and electric power-assisted steering – the Lusso, Veloce and Cloverleaf have distinctive identities of their own.

LUSSO

From the outside, Lusso versions can be distinguished from Turismo by their 16” sports alloy wheel, fog lights, lucid chrome finish headlight surrounds, chrome-effect window sills and chrome exhaust pipes. Stepping over the kick plates, the interior of Lusso models features a choice of three different interior colour combinations. Competizione Blue, Red or Black dashboards can be complemented by the inclusion of different leather and cloth seat colour combinations. All Lusso models come with lumbar adjustment on the driver’s side. A leather steering wheel and gear knob with steering wheel mounted audio controls complete the look.

VELOCE

Veloce versions of the Alfa MiTo are fitted with 17” exclusive design alloy wheels – similar to those that appear on the stunning Alfa 8C Competizione – along with satin effect headlight surrounds and wing mirror covers. The performance focus is further resolved with a rear spoiler and diffuser-style rear bumper. Veloce versions also sport red painted brake callipers. Inside the cabin, the Veloce features the same dashboard options as the Lusso version, but with an upgraded Veloce sports cloth, front armrest with storage compartment and sports dials with white illumination. All Veloce models come with the Blue&Me™ hands-free system with voice recognition, and media player with USB port.

CLOVERLEAF

The MiTo Cloverleaf’s 17″ Cloverleaf design alloy wheels are based on those of the Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione supercar. Other subtle signifiers for the fastest MiTo include an SDC active suspension system which works in conjunction with Alfa Romeo DNA, Cloverleaf badges, matching colours for the headlight frames and wing mirror covers in brushed titanium effect, while the dark finish of the headlight parabolas is achieved by a brand new metal sublimation technology. The interior also has a refined sporty feel thanks to the all-black surfaces that ensure no reflections or distractions while driving. The technological aspect of this car is further enhanced by the sporty fabric used to upholster the seats, the modern dashboard and the white lighting on the instrument panel.

OPTIONS & PERSONALISATION

A comprehensive list of options, including roof and side graphics, is also available; (see technical and specification table). And with 10 body colours and a variety of surrounds for the headlights & wing-mirror covers, every MiTo can be tailored to the driver’s individual tastes. The MiTo’s customisable headlight frames, for example, are available in Titanium Grey, Lucid Chrome, Satin Effect, Opaque Black or body colour.

DESIGN

Inspired by the Alfa 8C Competizione and designed to appeal to a young, image-conscious audience, the MiTo is available only as a 3-door hatchback, and is styled to match its description as the sportiest compact car on the market today.

From all angles, the MiTo manages to blend its sports credentials with quintessential Alfa Romeo style and sophistication to create a compact car that fully expresses the vitality and emotion of the brand.

In profile, the high waistline, flared wheel arches, disguised B-pillar and minimal rear overhang combine to communicate power, performance and agility. The hatchback rear of the vehicle features LED (light-emitting diode) lights which are brighter, faster responding and thus safer. These lights can be ordered with a choice of coloured surrounds.

INTERIORS

The MiTo’s interior has an imposing, hi-tech appearance and is equipped with a superbly designed instrument panel featuring an advanced graphics display. The high quality of the interior feels like that of a car from a class above, with its unique carbon fibre-look facia. The instrument display’s sporty analogue dials are hooded and the central console has a satin trim finish.

Careful soundproofing helps create a quiet and refined environment that optimises the inclusion of a Bose® sound system and integrated Blue&Me™ with satellite navigation on certain versions.

EQUIPMENT

The MiTo is equipped with Blue&Me™ technology as standard on Veloce and Cloverleaf trims (and is optional on the Lusso) enabling drivers to use a mobile phone and listen to music from an MP3 player or USB stick, without needing to take their hands off the steering wheel. And for optimum in-car sound quality, the MiTo boasts the option of the latest generation Bose® hi-fi sound system.

SAFETY TECHNOLOGY

Designed and developed to achieve the highest possible scores in passive and active crash safety tests, the Alfa MiTo is one of the safest cars on the road, providing driver and passengers with a high level of protection. In recognition of its safety credentials, the Alfa MiTo has already collected a 5-star Euro NCAP crash safety rating.

Driver and occupant safety is paramount, and the specification of seven airbags including front airbags, window bags, sidebags and driver’s kneebag work with Alfa Romeo’s Self Aligning Head Restraint – a system that moves the head restraints closer to the neck of the front seat occupants to lessen the effect of whiplash in the event of an impact – is evidence of Alfa Romeo’s commitment to the highest possible safety standards. This extends to small, often overlooked, details. With the MiTo’s SBR (Seat Belt Reminder) technology, four/five icons displayed on a small screen inform the driver whether the seat belts of all the passengers are securely fastened.

In addition, the body, bonnet, doors and dashboard crossmember, along with the seats and steering column, have been designed with a view to absorbing impact energy progressively and limiting their intrusion on the driver and passengers. And during emergency braking, the MiTo automatically operates its hazard lights to alert other road users.