Alfa Romeo MiTo Cloverleaf review: Hands-on

The Alfa Romeo MiTo Cloverleaf is a go-kart in an Italian styled disguise

What is a hands on review?
Image 1 of 4 Alfa Romeo MiTo Cloverleaf
Alfa Romeo MiTo Cloverleaf review
Image 2 of 4 Alfa Romeo MiTo Cloverleaf
Alfa Romeo MiTo Cloverleaf review
Image 3 of 4 Alfa Romeo MiTo Cloverleaf
Alfa Romeo MiTo Cloverleaf review
Image 4 of 4 Alfa Romeo MiTo Cloverleaf
Alfa Romeo MiTo Cloverleaf review

Alfa Romeo cars were once beautiful but ultimately flawed, keep one for long enough and it would rust or break. Luckily those days are long gone and the MiTo is the latest and clearest example of this new brand.

The Alfa Romeo MiTo Coverleaf or Quadrifoglio Verde is the brand’s retort to the Ford Fiesta ST and the Golf GTi and while it may not have the grunt on paper it certainly has the looks.

Already a good-looking car the MiTo is given a boost thanks to the Cloverleaf exclusive alloys and red paint scheme putting both Ford and Volkswagen’s efforts to shame.

This then is the hot hatch for someone that wants noticeable but without the requisite judgment that comes from driving a bright orange three door.

With a 1.4 170bhp turbocharged engine this will safely spirit you to 60mph in 7.5 secs. Ok so that’s a whole second slower than the VXR Corsa Nurburgring but what you lose in speed you make up for in both money (around £4k) and looks.

In case you’re wondering that 1.4 engine is more than enough for a car of this size, its been tuned beautifully and so what you end up with is something that as spritely as it is full of raw energy.

The exhaust is impressively guttural for an engine of this size and thanks to some hefty pedal-pushing in the low gears you’re treated to the feeling that while this may look like it was built for the catwalk, it’s actually a go-kart underneath.

Alfa Romeo MiTo Cloverleaf: Tech

The MiTo features the silly but very noticeable DNA mode which adjusts the steering and throttle responsiveness of the car, it comes in three settings, ‘Dynamic’, ‘Normal’ and ‘All Weather’.

Sadly this is nowhere near as exciting as it sounds. ‘Normal’ almost immediately takes away any of the responsiveness in the throttle whilst ‘All Weather’ is barely noticeable at all.

Thankfully though ‘D’ mode exists. Imagine it as though you’re taking the silencer off a gun and you’ll have some idea of the difference it makes.

We get the impression that this mode is somewhere near what Alfa’s engineers had originally intended for the MiTo Cloverleaf and so leave it on and you’re treated to an expensive but ultimately hugely enjoyable drive.

Of course we live in the real world and this is where its USP really begins to shine. Whereas Vauxhall, Ford and Volskwagen have all built cars with just one side to them the MiTo Cloverleaf has been built with two faces.

In ‘Normal’ mode you’ll actually get pretty decent fuel consumption, the steering is comfortable and the suspension won’t break your spine in two.

Sadly this is where the technical wizardry ends, while you’ll get one of the best small engines around for your £18k what you won’t get is a truly kitted out interior.

There’s a CD player, radio and cruise-control but that’s about it, no Sat-Nav here instead just swathes of carbon fibre.

That said the car has plenty of boot space, rather neatly demonstrated when we found we were able to fit two full sets of diving kit in the back with room to spare.

Alfa Romeo MiTo Cloverleaf: Verdict

The Cloverleaf is the hot hatchback for those that want a ‘drivers’ car but without the cost and maintenance of something larger and more expensive.

The DNA system really does work, and whilst it becomes a sad state of affairs everytime you shift it back into ‘Normal’ it makes it all the more enjoyable to hit a stretch of open countryside and pop it back into ‘Dynamic’.

Alfa Romeo MiTo Cloverleaf release date: Out now

Alfa Romeo MiTo Cloverleaf price: £18,755

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view.