NO NATION has a love of food like the Italians.

NO NATION has a love of food like the Italians.

Observing them at work in a kitchen is a sight to behold.

Their language is expressive and colourful ... speaking as much with their hands as their mouth.

Ingredients for a dish are not meticulously measured but more about how the cook feels on the day. It's not a case of 5ml of this and a cup of that, but adding the measurements of what you feel will make the perfect dish. If it requires extra wine throw it in, a bit more chilli ... just chop and add.

The Alfa Romeo MiTo has been created in a similar vein. Its ingredients include a decent measure of practicality and a sprinkling of new technology combined with a large dollop of style to give it that sporty feel. Added together the recipe is one that will satisfy most motorists in the market for a hot-hatch.

The MiTo derives its name from the Italian towns of Milan (where the car was designed) and Turin (where it will be produced).

We had the vehicle on test for a week and it was very reluctantly that I handed the key back because it's just so much fun to drive. Somehow it blends the practicality of everyday commuting with the fun that motoring should be.

The MiTo is one of the eight finalists for the South African Guild of Motoring Journalists Car of the Year competition 2010. The finalists were announced this week. The MiTo deserves this nomination.

Its design seemed to draw the attention of many youngsters and because there are so few on the road it has an aura of exclusivity.

Having a twin exhaust on a car with a 1,4litre engine might sound a tad ambitious but with the MiTo it suits the look ... and the engine.

A new innovation by Alfa and introduced on the MiTo is a system labelled DNA.

At the flip of a switch it enables the driver to choose between three different driving styles depending on the conditions at hand.

You have town driving (normal), supersporting (dynamic) and a mode for tricky conditions such as wet roads (all weather). Depending on which you select it sends a message to the engine, stability control and power steering and will assist the driver accordingly.

The MiTo comes with a wide range of goodies for your enjoyment. The central console is where you will find the climate control buttons, radio/CD and the DNA system.

Paired with the impressive engine is a 6-speed gearbox.

Standard exterior features include colour-coded bumpers and mirrors, tinted windows and fog lamps.

The MiTo is definitely not the cheapest of the hot-hatch brigade. But it does offer a lot when it comes to extras that are included in the price and it definitely makes a statement on the road.

I guess it's a bit like choosing where you would like to dine tonight. Is it the standard fare at the local drive-through or paying a bit extra and enjoying a dining experience that only the Italians can provide?