|Alfa Romeo Mito With MultiAir
Adds Oomph, Economy
Pretty Little Hot Hatch Provides The Expected Italian Flair
But Wait Until April 21, If You’re Thinking Of Buying
*** out of 5
GLASGOW, Scotland There were all kinds of weird, wonderful, expensive and impractical attempts at ingratiating the green movement at the recent Geneva Car Show, but Fiat’s MultiAir technology stands out as being practical, cheap and effective.
It won’t change the world as we know it, like battery power or fuel cells, but it will improve your fuel consumption in the here and now, and sharpen up performance too. You won’t notice much of a price difference either.
Fiat is now launching MultiAir in the little Alfa Romeo MiTo, after first unveiling the project at Geneva in 2009.
MultiAir isn’t a radical idea, more a combination of improvements in conventional petrol engine technology. MultiAir improves a gasoline engine’s efficiency, raising the power by about 12.5 per cent and can increase fuel efficiency by between 10 and 25 per cent. The technology improves the flow of air in the engine’s combustion process. MultiAir handles the electro-hydraulic system of engine valves for dynamic and direct control of air and combustion, cylinder-by-cylinder and stroke by stroke.
Fiat has an impressive track record in engine innovation. It developed “common rail” diesel engines, which use high-pressure fuel delivery to dramatically raise the power of small diesels.
The less powerful car performed well enough, but the combination of more power in the more expensive small and lightweight machine produced a very lively drive on the test route on the country roads and highways to the south west of Scotland’s capital city. The car looks very attractive. Steering was tight and responsive, the ride on the harsh side. There’s not much room in the back, but this is a small, if pricey car. Quality seemed pretty good inside, with attractive dials and switches
Automatic gearboxes will be available for the 135 bhp version with a twin-clutch jobby. The cheapest MiTo, The Turismo, won’t be available with MultiAir, but the Lusso, Veloce and Cloverleaf will. Lussos have 16 inch sports alloy wheels, fog lights, chrome highlights and a leather steering wheel and gear knob. Veloces have bigger wheels, red painted brake callipers, niftier upholstery, among other things. There’s also a hands-free phone system, media player and USB port. Cloverleafs have active suspension, DNA, and design cues inside.
April 21 looms
If you’re close to buying this or any Alfa Romeo, you might be well advised to wait until April 21. On this date, the big cheeses at Fiat, which owns Alfa and Lancia, not to mention Ferrari and Maserati, meet in Turin to announce Fiat’s long-term plan. This will spell out in detail what cars Fiat and Chrysler will make together, and what to do about Alfa Romeo. Alfa has a rich history and excites a niche group of people who still cling to the glories of the past while ignoring some of the modern failings. Alfa has lost huge amounts of money recently and its survival is not a foregone conclusion. Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne will axe the brand if he can’t see long-term success which must include a return to the U.S. market. If he doesn’t think Alfa can hack it in America, he’ll spike it. My guess is that Alfa will be given another “last” chance to prove its viability.
(Alfa paid for a flight and hotel)
Neil Winton March 25, 2010
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