not just a pretty face

THE festive season is generally the quietest in the motor industry.

THE festive season is generally the quietest in the motor industry.

My December car was the Alfa Romeo MiTo. Being a nervous driver during the festive period owing to the high number of road accidents, I relied on the MiTo's safety and handling to get by.

Small vehicles are not my favourite, but I knew that the MiTo would be different. The styling is bold and in your face. The test car was the three-door model in red.

Looking at the MiTo from the front you can identify the Italian flair. From the side view, the MiTo gives you that classy element to it.

The rear is a combination of funk and cheek. All in all, the MiTo's appearance is not apologetic.

Stepping inside one is greeted by the beautiful layout. Every detail has been crafted in a youthful way from the seats to the steering wheel and the gear-lever.

The highly distinctive dashboard and seats ensure that the interior of the MiTo represents the expression of Italian style, welcoming yet sporty, with high material quality and scrupulous attention to detail.

But the gem of this Italian beauty is in the engine and gearbox.

Start the engine and the MiTo dashboard glows in red elements. The six-speed manual gearbox is one of the best I have ever engaged with.

Its beauty is also borne out by a high waistline - the ratio between the body and glass is typical of an Alfa Romeo and, above all, it has a long, aerodynamic profile.

When it comes to safety this Italian is not just a pretty face. It is equipped with some of the finest safety devices around.

The MiTo has Alfa Romeo's new system known as the D N A device. This system consists of three driving modes: supersporting (Dynamic), town driving (Normal), maximum safety even in difficult grip conditions (All weather).

MiTo is also fitted with the DST (Dynamic Steering Torque) system that complements the electronic power steering as part of the Vehicle Dynamic Control system.

MiTo's personal appeal is enhanced by the double exhaust, 17-inch alloys, front and rear foglights and rear LED taillights. Follow-me-home headlights also form part of the standard exterior package.

Sitting behind the wheel of the MiTo, life is made easy by so many convenient features such as a Hi-Fi stereo system with MP3 and steering controls, leather-covered steering wheel, electric windows and mirrors, climate control, sports seats and a full on-board computer, remote central locking, programmable autolock.

Under the bonnet lies a 1,4-litre turbo engine. Watch out, Mini Cooper.