Geneva 09' Preview: Alfa Romeo MiTo GTA Unveiled with 240 HP

Alfa Romeo has officially unveiled the MiTo GTA just before its official unveiling at the Geneva Motor Show in a little over a week.

The MiTo GTA is powered by a 240 horsepower turbocharged 1.8L engine. Engineers lowered the weight of the car by using carbon fiber for the roof, tailgate spoiler and mirror housings in addition to employing aluminum in the suspension. The ride height has also been lowered by 20 millimeters.

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Alfa Romeo MiTo GTA, world preview

Gran Turismo Alleggerito: a historical and famous “signature” throughout the world which, interpreted in a modern and effective manner, has guided the entire development of the MiTo GTA Concept, which has the priority objectives of reducing weight and achieving an excellent power-to-weight ratio. Hence the decision to use components of ultra-light carbon fiber – as for example the tailgate spoiler, the roof and the mirror fairings – as well as the use of aluminum for the braking system, suspension and some parts of the chassis. And the body has been completely revised, maintaining the very high level of torsional rigidity (a necessary element for the maximum efficacy of the suspension) and optimizing many structural and reinforcing components; a necessary “diet”, not only to reduce weight but also to lower the center of gravity, enhancing agility and driving precision. To the same end, a special onboard set-up has been specified, preserving the equipment and systems most directly associated with the sporting use of the car. Finally, to obtain the best power-to-weight ratio in its category, an innovative engine, endowed with character and technology, has been specially developed.

So, the MiTo GTA Concept car boasts an extraordinary power-to-weight ratio which contributes to making it the standard-bearer of Alfa Romeo sporting cars. The design is sensual, modern, but never overstated, and from first sight it communicates a technological “DNA” which forms the inspiration for the development of future high performance versions.

1.75 Liter 240 HP Turbo Gasoline Engine: the sporting heart of the MiTo GTA Concept

Everyone recognizes the ability of the Italian motoring industry to produce engines full of “determination” and temperament, real “jewels” born out of experience and the passion of engineers allied with technical skills consolidated over the years. So there is no question that the engine should be designed and developed by the engineers of FPT – Fiat Powertrain Technologies, exploiting the experience which created the mythical Twin Spark and V6 engines as well as the racing engines which Alfa Romeo brought to racing tracks throughout the world.

And anyone whose character has been molded on the race track knows that he must always look to the challenges of the future. The Mito GTA Concept engine was developed in accordance with this principle, using advanced technical solutions in the field of spark ignition engines, including direct gasoline injection, dual VVT, the turbocharger and a revolutionary management system. Hence the exciting performances comparable with those of an engine of 3000 cc, while consumption is maintained at moderate levels typical of a 4-cylinder engine of average capacity, benefiting the environment and operating costs.
In addition, the engine has been designed to interact with the Alfa D.N.A. system which allows the driver to select the most suitable driving mode and thereby modify the operating parameters of the various vehicle systems, enhancing driving pleasure and safety under all conditions.

Style and aerodynamics: “clear” sportiness and advanced technology

To marry the harmonious lines of a hatchback for daily use to the requirements arising from track competition: this was the ambitious objective of the MiTo GTA Concept development team. Aerodynamic research had a decisive influence on the technical choices and on the style of the car. In particular, the model succeeds in combining an improvement in the CX drag coefficient (to increase maximum speed and reduce consumption), a substantial increase in downforce (to ensure maximum stability and safety even at high speeds) and efficient management of airflow at the front end (to cool the engine compartment).
In detail, the front end is characterized by the wide air intakes necessary to allow the lively engine to “breathe”, the new styling of the classic Alfa Romeo grille, the badge positioned on the bonnet and the new bumper. Also on the bonnet is the windscreen wiper deflector which further contributes to improving the aerodynamic performance of the car. Our view of the front end concludes with the new headlight surround which is darkened to ensure the absence of reflections: this is achieved by a new coating on the parabolic mirror of the bi-xenon headlights. So, the overall effect of these solutions is to give the front end a “determined” appearance, in which the sportiness is emphasized by the technical solutions adopted and the special chromatic effects, while the classic Alfa Romeo “family feeling” is interpreted in a novel way.

From the side, the eye is caught by the new engine cooling air vents – a clear reminder of the 8C Competizione – in which the direction indicators are embedded, while the many wind tunnel tests have “molded” the aerodynamic miniskirts to optimize the airflow along the sides and on the underside of the car.
To “earth” all the power of the engine, MiTo GTA Concept uses sports mixture tires, fitted to ultralight forged aluminum rims with “reverse” fluid-molded channel and 19″ keying diameter, designed to allow adequate cooling of the brakes to ensure maximum efficiency in the sportiest of uses.
Finally, the rear end has been redesigned to achieve maximum aerodynamic performance. In particular, the bumper has an air extractor to increase aerodynamic downforce, at the center of which emerges the large diameter twin exhaust pipe, the ultimate expression of the power of this exclusive prototype. Even the tailgate has been completely redesigned, using carbon fiber technology and incorporating an integral spoiler with a wing which is wider in the upper and side sections.

As with the racing car, in which the most refined components are often “under the skin”, so for the Mito GTA Concept the work of refining the under body was particularly important. To obtain the necessary “downforce” a flat rear floor was used, together with an exhaust system incorporating a transversal silencer efficiently connected to the rear extractor. Great care was used in specifying the accessories and components fitted under the floor, while special aerodynamic covers conduct the airflow to achieve an aerodynamic load at high speeds.

To finish, the choice of color: the special “Tritecno” white which emphasizes the lines of the car and contrasts the texture of the parts made of quality materials.

Advanced chassis for record agility

The MiTo GTA Concept chassis was designed to ensure maximum control of the car under all conditions: from the race track to use on low-grip roads. To enhance the already excellent dynamic qualities of the Alfa Romeo MiTo, the designers created numerous ad hoc chassis systems.

As well as creating a very stiff chassis, they completely revised the operating parameters of the suspension, lowering it by about 20 mm. The new geometry of the front suspension uses innovative aluminum front arms, while the rear end has undergone a special development involving the elastic components of the suspension.

The steering is now more direct, precise and sensitive, allowing the driver to obtain maximum “road feel”. The steering can be personalized by selecting different positions using the Alfa D.N.A. system, ensuring an immediate response from the vehicle under all conditions.

But to achieve the “state of the art” in dynamic behavior, Alfa Romeo has developed a new “active suspension system”. The result of collaboration between Alfa Romeo and Magneti Marelli, the system exploits the exceptional experience of both companies in sporting activities throughout the world.

By means of shock absorber control, the system reduces oscillations of the car body under all driving conditions, thereby guaranteeing the highest levels of safety, comfort and drivability. In particular, by exploiting the many parameters managed by the new system, it is possible, for example, to counteract the transfer of load under acceleration, stiffening the rear end and guaranteeing lightning quick acceleration with maximum traction. Using the same principle, it is possible to make the suspension interact with the braking system and steering to obtain the most efficient control of vehicle dynamics.

In addition, the system is able to identify the driving situation and road surface conditions to choose the most appropriate control program, and to exploit the responsiveness resulting from its high degree of computing power and the technology used in the shock absorber solenoid valves; the result is an instantaneous response, with controls applied in real time, to complement the sensitivity and technique of the driver.

As well as being an important technological partner for the more sporting driver, the new active suspension system also ensures an excellent level of comfort under the conditions of daily use. In fact, using the “Sky-Hook” function, the system isolates the passenger compartment and makes it notionally motionless with respect to external disturbances. So, using this new system, the chassis can vary its performance according to the conditions of use or at the request of the driver.

The interface between the car and the driver can only be provided by the “Alfa D.N.A.” system with which, in addition to the normal functions, it is possible to adjust the geometry of the car according to the driving mode selected. The “Alfa D.N.A.” system has three operating modes, each selectable by the driver: Dynamic (mode for sports driving), Normal (mode for driving under normal conditions) and All Weather (mode for driving under conditions of low grip, such as rain or snow).

In detail, with the introduction of “active suspension”, the system operates on all the dynamic control components of the car: engine management computer, instrument panel, VDC (Vehicle Dynamic Control – stability control system), steering and suspension (the latter two functions, in Dynamic mode for example, become stiffer, optimizing handling of the car). To ensure maximum safety under all conditions, the braking system has been duly “beefed up”, with components worthy of a supercar.

First of all, the wheel set features impressive one-piece anodized calipers with four opposing pistons, produced by Brembo in co-design with the Alfa Romeo Style Center and on which the logos of the Bergamo concern, still a winner in competition, and GTA represent a signature guaranteeing maximum performance. Using the style features specified by the Alfa Romeo Style Center, Brembo has designed and produced a new brake caliper concept in keeping with the sporting character of the car, which is complemented by the dual-cast discs employing two materials, cast iron and aluminum, to provide, with the caliper, a significant weight reduction (between 15 and 20% compared with a traditional brake disc) in accordance with the philosophy imposed by the historic abbreviation GTA – Gran Turismo Alleggerito – light grand tourer. In addition, the dual-cast disc ensures greater driving comfort, reduces corrosion and consumption, optimizes performance of the braking system and pools the advantages arising from the temperature behavior of the cast iron and the lightness of the aluminum. The innovation consists in the way in which the two materials are combined in a single component, and in the behavior of the disc itself: it is a solid disc at low temperatures, and behaves as if “fluidized” at high temperatures, when maximum performance is demanded and the disc tends to warp.
Finally, to “glue” the car to the road, Alfa Romeo MiTo GTA Concept offers new high-performance tires specially developed by Pirelli.

“Technical” interiors with personality

MiTo GTA Concept has an interior with strong personality in which the two anatomical front seats stand out; these provide maximum lateral support in sports driving and a marked reduction in weight. The same impression of sportiness is found in the dark tones of the passenger compartment and in the materials which have been chosen to guarantee maximum efficiency in high speed driving: for example, to minimize reflections, matt black predominates on the coatings of the components which “fall” within the visual field of the driver (such as the dashboard), while the other materials have an extremely “technical” appearance. In addition, the 4-point seatbelts are attached to the rear roll bar, which also supports the retention net provided to restrain baggage items.
The rear part of the passenger compartment enhances the “sporty” nature of the design: there are special compartments for racing helmets and fire extinguisher and there are spaces to contain items used in competition.

The floor covering is new, featuring a carpet which leaves the driver’s mats uncovered, with an aluminum scuff plate bearing the GTA name. In addition, on the floor there are rubber inserts replicating the tread of the exclusive Pirelli tire fitted to the car.
The floor covering – like the roof lining and front, central and rear pillars – is in costly black Alcantara texture and a red stitching runs all the way round the car elegantly surrounding the internal environment. And there’s more: new air vents, specially designed for the MiTo GTA Concept and embellished with aluminum inserts, combine functionality with technical and sporting design.
Particular attention has been lavished on the steering wheel, the result of an ergonomic study to maximize grip for the driver, the instruments with new graphics (the speedometer has an end of scale of 300 Km/h) and the gear lever knob, featuring a characteristic design which even in this mechanical component displays the technical values of the Alfa Romeo brand.

Finally, the “supersporting” GTA pedals in brushed aluminum, recalling those in the 8C Competizione, have rubber inserts to increase grip.

RadioNav with sporting cockpit

In order to permanently manage the operating parameters of the car, MiTo GTA Concept has adopted an innovative system integrated into the Radionav and developed in collaboration with Magneti Marelli.

Besides displaying the “views” relating to navigation, from the large color display it is possible to select different screens to obtain information on the various operating parameters controlling the mechanical and dynamic performance of the vehicle. For example, for each position of the Alfa D.N.A. selector, the system displays a summary of the configurations associated with the mode chosen by the driver. In addition, in an ergonomic and intuitive way, it shows various indicators such as the engine oil temperature, turbocharger pressure and the throttle valve opening percentage. Finally, to emphasize the agility of the MiTo GTA Concept, it is possible to monitor the acceleration trend in real time: in this way one’s personal driving style and the behavior of the car under braking can be analyzed in depth, in rapid changes of trajectory or the most violent of pick-ups.

In this way, MiTo GTA Concept maximizes driving pleasure by virtue of this innovative dashboard display, which gives the driver the sensation of being in control of a genuine competition car.