Introduction The MiTo in brief Styled as a sportier mini
Driving satisfaction, Alfa Romeo style Cutting-edge engines & gearboxes Safety at the peak of its segment
General in-car well-being Range & services (Italian market) MiTo & the language of the young
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Safety at the peak of its segment

The Alfa Romeo MiTo has been designed to obtain the maximum score in passive and active safety tests. A level of total protection that makes this car one of the safest cars anywhere in the world. Suffice it to say that the new model has passed the most severe crash tests and already complies with proposals for future European standards. Here are details of some of the devices and systems adopted on the new Alfa Romeo MiTo.

Active safety benefits from state-of-the-art technology

To ensure active safety, the new model offers some of the most sophisticated electronic devices to control the vehicle’s dynamic performance (from braking to traction) and push its dynamic limits still further. These devices are not intrusive for the driver but greatly benefit safety. The operation of these devices has been developed by means of simulations and meticulous track testing with the aim of ensuring maximum driving satisfaction.

Braking system

The power-assisted, hydraulic system on the Alfa Romeo MiTo comprises two cross-over independent circuits, and is particularly effective, guaranteeing prompt, smooth braking combined with minimal stopping distances. The system naturally differs according to the engine version (in terms of weight and power): vehicles equipped with the 78 bhp 1.4 engine are fitted with 257 mm self-ventilated discs on the front wheels and cast iron floating calliper with 54 mm piston; the rear brake discs are solid (251 mm diameter) while the calliper is aluminium with a 38 mm diameter piston.

The spirited 155 bhp Alfa Romeo MiTo 1.4 Turbopetrol is fitted with 305 mm ventilated discs with one-piece aluminium callipers with four pistons on the front wheels. The rear discs are solid (251 mm diameter) with a floating calliper. It should be emphasised that this version uses a one-piece aluminium calliper on the front brakes: this option increases calliper stiffness without increasing the weight and therefore makes for increased performance, particularly during a sporty drive.
Turbocharger power unit is fitted with 281 mm self-ventilated discs on the front wheels and cast iron floating calliper with 57 mm piston; the rear brake discs are solid (251 mm diameter) while the calliper is aluminium with a 38 mm diameter piston.

ABS with EBD

In addition to a high-performing brake system, the Alfa Romeo MiTo also comes with one of the most advanced ABS antilock brake systems on the market today. It features four active sensors and a hydraulic control unit with 12 solenoids. The ABS contains an electronic brakeforce distributor (EBD). This device apportions braking action over all four wheels to prevent locking and ensure full control of the car under all conditions. The system also adapts its operation to wheel grip conditions and brake pad efficiency to reduce pad overheating.

VDC (Vehicle Dynamic Control)

The VDC is Alfa Romeo’s version of the ESP (Electronic Stability Program), a system that cuts in under extreme conditions when car stability is at risk and also helps the driver to control the car. As befits a true Alfa, the VDC is a sporting device that allows outstanding road holding. It allows the driver the full satisfaction of controlling the car as long as conditions are normal but cuts in just before things become critical. The VDC is permanently engaged.

The MSR (Motor Schleppmoment Regelung) cuts in when the gear is shifted down abruptly under conditions of low grip. This device restores torque to the engine to prevent the wheel skidding as a result of lock. To achieve this result, the VDC continually monitors tyre grip in both longitudinal and lateral directions. If the car skids, it cuts in to restore directionality and ride stability. It uses sensors to detect rotation of the car body about its vertical axis (yaw speed), car lateral acceleration and the steering wheel angle set by the driver (which indicates the chosen direction). It then goes on to compare these data with parameters generated by a computer and establishes – via a complex mathematical model – whether the Alfa MiTo is cornering within its grip limits or if the front or rear is about to skid (understeer or oversteer).

To restore the correct trajectory, it then generates a yaw movement in the opposite direction to the movement that gave rise to the instability by braking the appropriate wheel (interior or exterior) individually and reducing engine power (via the throttle). This is the key attribute of the device designed by Alfa Romeo engineers. It acts in a modulated fashion on the brakes to ensure the action is as smooth as possible (and the drive is not therefore disturbed). The engine power reduction is contained to ensure outstanding performance and great driving satisfaction at all times.

ASR (Anti Slip Regulation)

The ASR (Anti Slip Regulation) system, an integral part of the VDC, optimises traction at any speed with the aid of the brakes and engine control. The device computes the degree of slip on the basis of wheel rpm calculated by the ABS sensors and activates two different control systems to restore grip. When an excessive power demand causes both drive wheels to slip (e.g. in the case of aquaplaning or when accelerating over an unsurfaced, snowy or icy road), it reduces engine torque by reducing the throttle opening angle and thus air flow. If only one wheel slips (e.g. the inside wheel following acceleration or dynamic load changes), this is automatically braked without the driver touching the brake pedal. The resulting effect is similar to that of a self-locking differential. This allows the Alfa Romeo MiTo to get out of difficulty easily on road surfaces with low grip.

CBC (Cornering Brake Control)

The CBC (Cornering Brake Control) system comes into play when the car takes a corner when fully braked. In this case, the brake pressure is discharged on each wheel individually to maintain vehicle stability, minimising any understeer or oversteer behaviour.

DST (Dynamic Steering Torque)

The VDC on the Alfa Romeo MiTo always cuts in unobtrusively because it is combined with DST (Dynamic Steering Torque), an active electronic steering system that makes corrections automatically and also controls oversteer over surfaces with low grip. The DST therefore improves both driving safety and handling performance. Under all driving conditions, the electronic steering system suggests the correct manoeuvres to be carried out to the driver to allow outstanding road holding performance while instilling a great sense of security. This is achieved through continuous interaction between the electric power steering (which generates torque at the steering wheel) and electronic control of dynamics (VDC). In detail, the DST automatically makes corrections, helps to maintain vehicle control and ensures that the VDC cuts in more unobtrusively.

The DST System is particularly useful in the case of oversteer because it facilitates the most appropriate manoeuvre to maintain control of the vehicle in every situation. The MCF function (Mu-Split control function) cuts in when driving over surfaces with different levels of grip (in winter, it is often the case that two wheels are on ice while the other two are on asphalt). In this particular case, the DST System allows automatic countersteering that makes it possible to control the vehicle (preventing it from spinning) and also to pull up within the shortest possible space (the braking distance is reduced by 10%). In the event of a sporty drive, if the system detects higher lateral acceleration (from 0.6 g) it cuts in to deliver an increase in resistant torque to the steering wheel. In this way it significantly improves the sensation of mastering the car on corners, particularly at high speed.

HBA and Hill-holder

The equipment array on the Alfa Romeo MiTo is completed by the HBA system, the hydraulic electronic hydraulic braking assistant which automatically increases the pressure in the braking circuit during emergency braking. And by the Hill-holder system, which maintains the braking pressure for a few moments after the driver removes his foot from the pedal, to simplify hill starts and prevent the car from slipping backwards.

Q2 Electronic

Another specific feature of the Alfa Romeo MiTo is its new Q2 Electronic system that improves the transfer of drive torque to the wheels and, in particular, guarantees excellent cornering behaviour thus making the car safer and more entertaining during a sporty drive or when grip is poor.


In detail, the Q2 Electronic System is based on the principle of making full use of the braking system that, when appropriately controlled by the VDC control unit, develops a form of behaviour very similar to that of a limited slip differential (in other words, the Q2 Electronic System electronically stimulates the presence of a self-locking differential). More specifically, when accelerating on a bend, the front braking system acts on the inner wheel to increase traction on the outer wheel (bearing the highest load) and thus distributing torque between the front drive wheels in a continuous, dynamic manner according to driving and road surface conditions.

Systems and devices for total protection

One hundred simulations on a HyGe slide, five hundred crash tests and two hundred tests on components and subsystems. These statistics demonstrate Alfa’s deep-rooted commitment to making the Alfa Romeo MiTo one of the safest cars in its segment and also in the field of motoring as a whole. The new model represents the state-of-the-art as far as passive safety is concerned. Total protection, in short, as evidenced by 7 airbags as standard (two of which are Multistage); three-point seatbelts with pretensioners and load limit limiters; S.A.H.R. (Self Aligning Head Restraint) system, an anti whiplash device built into the backrest on the front seats. Not to mention the contribution to occupant protection made by the body, the bonnet, the doors and the dashboard crossmember in addition to the seats and steering column, that have been designed with a view to their behaviour in the event of an accident.

Air-Bag Smart 2 system

Full protection, smart protection. In the event of a head-on impact, occupant protection is guaranteed by an innovative constraint system known as the ‘Air-Bag Smart 2’, because it is able automatically adapt the activation parameters according to the severity of the impact. Beginning with two front airbags for driver and front passenger that work in a different way to conventional airbags. Driver and passenger front air bags with dual stage activation; when the impact is of moderate force, the system opens only to the first of two stages; during more serious collisions, the control units control the activation of both stages. The airbags may, however, be activated in accordance with different sequences determined by the various impact types. In each case, braids inside the bags ensure that maximum bag dimension and final shape are as non-invasive as possible for passengers. The front passenger airbag may be deactivated manually (by means of the control panel menu) so that a baby can be carried in a seat with its back to the direction of motion (the pretensioner remains active).

The sensors on the ‘Air-Bag Smart 2’ system also control the activation of the seat belt pretensioners. The Alfa Romeo MiTo is equipped with front seatbelts complete with reel, pretensioner and load limiter. In case of impact, an electronically-controlled pyrotechnic pretensioner rewinds the belt within a few milliseconds so that it fits snugly to the body. The front reels contain load limiters that yield in a controlled manner to modulate the force exercised on the shoulders of the belt wearer.

Control unit and sensors

The Alfa Romeo MiTo is therefore equipped with all the most advanced passive safety devices currently available. They are governed by a sophisticated new ‘nerve system’ that is controlled by an electronic control unit located in the front tunnel. This control unit receives signals from the various sensors distributed throughout the car (and others inside) and decides how many devices should be activated and which ones.

This is why the system is said to be ‘smart’. It does not activate when the occupant is in no danger of striking the car walls regardless of whether an impact has taken place or not. It detects stresses that are not caused by an impact. It will even work if the electrical system stops working. All this is made possible by particularly sophisticated operating strategies and detection terminals. Such as the CSA (Crash Severity Algorithm) that is able to recognise the severity of impact and control the Multistage front airbags; or a sensor that detects the presence of a passenger and if necessary warns users to fasten seat belts by means of an audible and visual signal on the control panel. And more: two-way accelerometers that make it possible to enhance the function of the satellite sensors, installed on the central pillars, in order to ensure timely operation of the side airbags and window bags in the event of side impact.

Lastly, the Alfa Romeo MiTo is also fitted with a decentralised sensor for detecting frontal impact or ECS (Early Crash Sensor); this extra device is located on the front structure of the car and allows the control unit to activate the front airbags earlier. Unlike conventional systems, this device allows the bag to inflate fully before occupants even start to move in the direction of the steering wheel or dashboard.

Window-bags and sidebags

These airbags drop down along the windows to safeguard the passengers’ heads in the case of side impact. Compared to other solutions, the window-bags adopted on the Alfa Romeo MiTo are more protective (because they always take up the correct position), faster to inflate and less invasive for passengers. They open from top to bottom and do not involve a risk of secondary damage to occupants’ arms.

They also effectively safeguard the heads of front and rear passengers because they extend along the entire width of the window and ensure protection even during rollover. Two bags (one on the right and the other on the left) are located under the roof rails where they are folded into a closed compartment. At the appropriate moment, the covering bends open to allow the bags to expand and drop downward.
The Alfa Romeo MiTo comes with two side airbags located inside the seat backrest to protect the pelvis and chest of its passengers even when the car is struck from the side. This positioning affords better protection for passengers regardless of height, sitting position and seat adjustment.

Driver’s kneebag

The area beneath the steering column, typically the most dangerous for the knees, has been made safer by the use of a knee bag and also a new steering lock position that involved moving the ignition key from its conventional position.

Protective, wrap-around seats

Particular attention was paid to the seats, that play an all-important role in ensuring effective containment of the occupant and therefore achieving the required level of safety during head-on, rear and side impact. The performance required of the seats exceeds that imposed by European type-approval standards. The seats have been developed to exceed the toughest standards required by the market. Amongst other things, the front seats of the Alfa Romeo MiTo are equipped with a S.A.H.R. (Self Aligning Head Restraint) system that moves the head restraint closer to the neck of seat occupants to lessen the effect of whiplash in the event of impact.

Emergency stop indication

The Alfa Romeo MiTo introduces an important new product in the field of preventive safety: a system that indicates an emergency stop by operating the direction indicators. The function enters into operation when - at a speed greater than 50 km/h – a deceleration greater than 7 m/s² occurs, the brake pedal is pressed and the hazard warning lights are not active. Once these parameters are satisfied, the system automatically activates both front and rear direction indicators.

Alfa Romeo breathalysers for responsible driving

One titbit of information: Alfa Romeo MiTo customers will be able to order a kit with three Alfa Romeo branded alcohol testers to raise public awareness - and particularly the awareness of young people - of the strategic importance that safety, accident-prevention and road safety education must hold in any progressive society today. Our brand is therefore to the forefront of campaigns to achieve this ambitious social aim. For example, last July, Alfa Romeo launched a communication campaign about the risks of drinking alcohol before driving a car. In particular, the campaign used the image of a bottle opener standing in an anthropomorphic way, with a red stain nearby. This deliberately strong and direct visual was complemented by the pay-off: ‘The satisfaction of a nice drink. The satisfaction of driving. Alfa Romeo supports them both. But never at the same time’. Alfa Romeo’s appeal for responsible driving was circulated in Italy and in Europe through free press newspapers and the Promocard circuit. It went out during the summer, which is the time of the highest number of incidents related to alcohol consumption by young people.

Report & Photos: Fiat Group Automobiles