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16th July, 2010 (copyright image)

Alfa Romeo Mito Quadrifoglio

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The Alfa Romeo Mito Quadrifoglio has arrived in Australia with a new 125 kW engine that debuts Alfa Romeo’s cutting edge MultiAir technology to deliver more performance, lower emissions and cut fuel consumption.

The MultiAir technology means that not only is the new Alfa Romeo faster than other versions of the Mito, it is more economical across different tests and produces less carbon dioxide.

In short, the Alfa Romeo Mito Quadrifoglio combines hot hatch performance with economy car fuel consumption and emissions.

“If MultiAir was the only technical innovation in the new Mito, it would make it one of the most significant technical advances to arrive in Australia this year,” says Andrei Zaitzev, General Manager for Alfa Romeo in Australia. “But the Mito Quadrifoglio also debuts dynamic adaptive suspension, bringing technology normally associated with cars that measure their prices in fractions of a million dollars into a new market sector for affordable cars, and debuts the latest Stop&Start engine technology.”

Dynamic adaptive suspension enables all four shock absorbers to change their rate of damping to adapt to changing road and driving conditions and controlling both body roll and lateral movement of the body. Working with the DNA system already seen on the Mito, the driver can choose Dynamic, Normal or All-weather settings for the suspension and drivetrain, optimising safety, comfort and driver enjoyment in all conditions.

Like two existing versions of the Mito, the new Mito Quadrifoglio provides all the style, luxury and features of its larger brothers, but in a new compact size. As befits a car that carries the Alfa Romeo badge, the Mito has styling that is unique, carrying themes from the Alfa Romeo 8C and ensuring that the Mito, despite its size, will never be confused with a small economy car.

The Mito Quadrifoglio is powered by the latest version of Alfa Romeo’s family of ‘Fire’ 1.4 litre engines that have set new standards for performance, economy and emissions.

The aim for an engineering endeavour is to have your cake and eat it (so to speak) - 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, 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.

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.

The culmination of this technology is that the Mito Quadrifoglio delivers hot hatch performance , with a zero to 100 kmh time of 7.5 seconds and a 219 km/h top speed. Yet, at the same time, when 'cruising' on the open road it consumes just 4.8 litres per 100 km on average and offers a 'combined' fuel figure of just 6.0 litres per 100 km. Emmissions are a high creditable 139 g/km. Drivers car further adjust performance to driving conditions, with a choice of two torque peaks, 230 Nm in normal mode or, by selecting Sport mode, 250 Nm. All of this comes from a light, compact 1.4 litre engine which delivers the claimed driving experience of a 2.0 litre engine.

Motor sport has always been a testing ground for new technologies, which have found their way from the world's most famous race tracks to standard road cars. Therefore, with a brand that boast a motor sport heritage and for a car that carries Alfa Romeo historic Quadrifoglio Verde, or  green four leaf clover badge, the Mito Quadrifoglio has one of the latest technology transfers: 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 Alfa Romeo MiTo Quadrifoglio 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.

The Dynamic Suspension system works in harmony with Alfa Romeo’s innovative DNA system, itself another first for the class. A three-position switch, situated beside the gearlever, alters the throttle response and steering set-up for different driving environments – Dynamic, Normal and All Weather.

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. Alfa Romeo’s Electronic Q2 limited slip differential heads a list of dynamic driver aids, including a long list of safety systems. Together, these all help deliver impressive driving dynamics and handling, along with sure-footed road holding capabilities.

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The fact that the MiTo has been designed to be exclusively a three door car has provided the stylists at Alfa Romeo Centro Stile with the freedom to endow the MiTo with a new level of style, internally and externally, that has not been previously available in this market sector.

Most obviously is the way the MiTo tappers behind the ‘b’ pillar to provide not a just coupe style, but also 'shoulders' over the rear wheels akin to those on the Alfa 8C sports car, that lead the eye to rear lights, which include the first of several class-firsts, the safety of LED rear lights replacing conventional light bulbs.

At the front, the shield-shaped grille is imposingly sited at the end of a sculpted V-shaped bonnet, flanked by clear lens and teardrop headlamps. In profile, the high waistline, flared wheel arches, disguised B-pillar and minimal rear overhang combine to communicate power, performance and agility.

Inside the cabin, the high quality interior feels like a car from a class above, with additional touches in the MiTo Sport such as its unique carbon fibre-look dashboard. The sporty dials are hooded and the central console comes with a satin finish. Careful soundproofing helps provide a quiet and refined environment that optimises the inclusion of a quality sound system and integrated Blue & Me™ in the MiTo Sport.

In line with entertaining levels of performance and handling, the Alfa MiTo also boasts high levels of safety. Designed and developed to achieve the highest possible scores in passive and active safety tests, the Alfa MiTo provides driver and passengers with a high level of protection. In recognition of its safety credentials, the Alfa MiTo like many others has collected a 5-star Euro NCAP 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 safety standards.

During emergency braking, the Alfa Romeo MiTo automatically operates its hazard lights to alert other road users.

All versions of the MiTo are well equipped with trip computer, cruise control, aircon, remote locking and boot release, steering wheel audio controls, front armrest with locker, leather steering wheel, VDC with hill holder, front electric windows and a premium six speaker audio system headlining the standard equipment package.

The Alfa Romeo MiTo Quadrifoglio joins the Alfa Romeo range priced at $34,990 plus statutory charges and delivery fees.

“The Mito Quadrifoglio does not complete the MiTo range,” says Mr Zaitzev. “It is just the next step with more versions set to debut new technology and features and ensure the Mito is as technically advanced as it is chic and stylish – the ultimate combination of beauty and brains!”


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