Remember the? We've just spent a week testing its little brother, a cute supermini called the MiTo. How can a supermini be related to a supercar, you ask? According to Alfa, it's all about having the right DNA. We have no idea what that means. But is it fast enough to terrify passengers? Does it have tech befitting a £170,000 motor? Let's sort this out.
The 8C is a stunning car, so it's no surprise the MiTo borrows a few of its party tricks. Everything from the bulbous snout to the teardrop-shaped windows to the concentric LED lights at the rear, has been lifted, in some shape or form, from the 8C. The slightly squashed front end has a rather sad expression, as if it knows it's the runt of a pedigree litter, but overall, we think it looks gorgeous -- expect plenty of admiring glances from pedestrians and fellow drivers.
The MiTo offers three driving modes, selectable via a 'DNA' (dynamic, normal and all-weather) switch -- aha! -- by the gear stick. The all-weather mode gives you extra grip in icy or wet conditions, the default mode gives you super-light steering and a generally easy ride, while the third, dynamic mode, transforms the car completely. It revs more eagerly, pulls harder and, despite only having a 1.4-litre turbocharged engine, does 0-60mph in a brisk 8 seconds.
An overboost feature, available only in dynamic mode, gives you an extra kick of turbo power under heavy acceleration. This facilitates overtaking, and is accompanied by Gran Turismo-style graphics on the instrument panel showing you what level of boost you're using. Tres cool.
Handling is generally very good. The ride is harsher than we'd like, and the steering could provide a touch more feedback to warn us when the front wheels are about to lose grip during cornering, but these are quibbles we can live with.
Alfa Romeos have a reputation of breaking down, falling apart and generally doing things that aren't conducive to stress-free motoring. The only sign of trouble on our test car was the passenger airbag warning light refusing to turn off, but that didn't bother us -- we didn't plan on crashing, and even if we did, we'd be in the driving seat, where the airbag works just fine.
It is slightly worrying, however, that the first 18 pages of the MiTo's user manual are dedicated to things that might go wrong. Either Alfa Romeo is taking reliability very seriously, or it expects you to make use of those 18 pages on a regular basis.