Remember that old Top Gear movie from the time of the last financial crisis (ah, capitalism sure works well), when the trio went looking for cheap cars that also managed to somehow be merry ? The upshot, for those who haven’t, is that most cheap cars aren’t cheerful in any way, but the Fiat 500 is. Back to the studio.
During the film, however, James picks the Alfa Romeo Mito as a contender for a car that is both cheap and cheerful. Which basically says all it takes about Alfa Romeo’s fortunes in the early parts of the 21st century, but we’ll get past that.
Unlike the equally large and admittedly beautiful 500, the Mito used Fiat’s more expensive SCCS platform, as opposed to the Mini platform the 500 (and Panda) used. Ah, those Italians. Always so lyrical.
Either way, the SCCS platform makes generous use of high-strength steel. In the Mito, this means that, despite using similar torsion bar rear suspension, the rear could be (and indeed was) beefed up to allow for a sharper turn and a little old-school… well, we’d say’ rear-wheel steering’, considering that’s making a comeback, but the word that really applies here is ‘vandalism’.
Just a piece of advice for anyone expecting a sharp John-Oliver experience out of the box: like every Alfa of this generation – 8C, Giulietta – it takes quite a bit of fiddling and finesse to find the car has the potential to be. Think of the Mito as the Fiat Punto shares a platform with: nothing great out of the box, but capable of a lot more than you might think – if you’re willing to pursue it.
After all, the Punto – we repeat, the Punto – won the European Rally Championship in 2006. Enough said, right?