As seen in Issue 281 of bmag, Chris Nixon tests the latest Alfa Romeo MiTo and discusses Mercedes’ latest offering…

“Old” is new again at Holden

Holden will offer four models from the General Motors German brand Opel in the first half of 2015 as it winds down local manufacturing. It will launch a three-door Astra sports hatch in two versions, a pretty four-seat cabriolet called Cascade and the Insignia executive sedan. Many drivers remember past German-built Holden Astras fondly and should welcome the four new cars’ return behind Holden badges.

Mercedes owners fly high

Mercedes-Benz owners tight on time when doing business in Melbourne can use an exclusive new helicopter shuttle service between the CBD and the company’s Airport Express dealership at Tullamarine.

A flight from the Yarra bank landing to the dealership’s own helipad takes just four minutes and costs $274 – barely the cost of a banker’s lunch!

Carnival to stay on high note

Dull, forgettable styling hasn’t prevented the Kia Grand Carnival being Australia’s most popular people-mover for more than 10 years, so a sexy, all-new model due late this year or early 2015 should boost it even further. The Carnival, revealed recently at New York motor show, was designed by German Peter Schreyer, whose credits include the landmark, retro-style Audi TT.

Eight seats, high-grade safety features, petrol and diesel engines will be offered in the Carnival, but prices are expected to remain similar, from less than $40,000.

TESTING: ALFA ROMEO MITO 1.4

Alfa Romeo put itself back into play when it chopped big chunks off prices for its MiTo sports hatchback, in particular by offering an engaging twin cylinder, 875 c.c. version from just $22,500.

It’s arguable whether our top-of-the-range 1.4 Distinction test example is worth $5500 more than the TwinAir. It’s faster, but the jerky, low-speed behavior of its twin-clutch automatic gearbox blunts the experience.

Driven on the open road as an Italian sports machine should be, the changes are quick and crisp, especially when the “instant thrills” DNA setting is selected. The MiTo has received minor outside upgrades and a new interior, including dash and fabrics, plus a slick infotainment system.

  • From $28,000 plus on-roads
  • 3-Door hatch
  • 1.4 litre 4-cyl petrol engine
  • 99kW, 206Nm

FOR: Cheaper prices, good engine, gorgeous looks.
AGAINST: Try reversing from a downhill parking spot with this gearbox.
VERDICT: Not a car, it’s an Alfa Romeo.