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Four sporty small cars in the test: Mito, DS3, CR-Z and Swift

Hans-Dieter Seufert
Four sporty small cars put to the test
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Whether in Munich-Schwabing or in the west of Stuttgart, minis park close together everywhere. Black or white roof? Red or yellow paint? The differences are marginal, the individuality is quickly lost. So why not try something new? It drives up: the Alfa Romeo Mito, design piece and eye-catcher for 19,050 euros. This is accompanied by a cheeky Citroën D S3 with an unusual sideline and upbeat interior for a price of 20,500 euros and a completely frills-free Suzuki Swift Sport for a competitive price of 18,490 euros. Fourth in the league, 23,390 euros expensive and practically the ecologically extravagant alternative: a Honda CR-Z with little space, but a 1.5-liter gasoline engine with a ten kW electric motor under the flat hood.

The Citroën DS3 small car is more than a fashionable handbag

The most conspicuous candidate in the small car quartet is the Citroën DS3 THP 155. With its cute design, two-tone body, roof stickers and plenty of chrome trim, the Citroën is clearly based on the sales strategy of the successful Mini. In addition, the SportChic variant tested here is almost completely equipped. Rear spoiler, 17-inch wheels, automatic air conditioning, cruise control, subwoofer - everything is there. For a small car, the cockpit is extremely elegant and clean. Piano lacquer and aluminum adorn the center console, gear lever and the steering wheel, which is flattened at the bottom. There are optional decorative inserts for a slim € 100 that add flavor to the cockpit. Sports seats, wrapped in a mixture of fabric and Alcantara, are standard. Only the perfume dispenser on the right-hand side of the dashboard shouldn't be to everyone's taste.

Shortly after it is started, it proves that the Citroën DS3 is more than a fashionable handbag. Almost rebelliously muffled, the turbo gasoline engine hums from the chrome tailpipes. So now and then. And how.240 Newton meters of torque and 156 hp ensure the best performance in this test. Seven seconds for zero hundred? 210 km /h top? Relaxed. It is up to the driver whether he strolls leisurely in sixth gear or calls up all the horses. Power is always there, and the six-speed box makes you want to shift. Those who let it run at a leisurely pace will be rewarded with consumption of between seven and eight liters per 100 kilometers.

The well-mixed chassis of the Citroën DS3 also plays a role. The DS3 is just as ready for sporty cornering as it is for long journeys on the motorway. Only transverse joints and a steering that becomes less precise when driving fast dampen the pleasure. Another weak point: the mediocre brakes. The Citroën DS3, on the other hand, collects plus points in classic everyday use. The front seats can easily be returned to their set position via Easy Entry; With a volume of 285 liters, the trunk swallows most of the luggage, and the rear seat can be folded down in parts for larger transport activities (at no extra charge).

Sporty, minimalist small car Suzuki Swift Sport

Against this the white painted Suzuki Swift Sport a little pale. Its cute little trunk holds just 211 liters, and the backrests can only be folded down completely. The 136 hp Japanese is just a minimalist and fully committed to brisk driving. Colorful gimmicks in the cockpit? Not here. Black plastic dominates. Clear instruments, a leather steering wheel with red stitching and sports seats must be enough. Three curves later, it is clear: the lateral support of the seats is urgently needed. Thanks to precise steering and sports suspension, the Suzuki Swift Sport hisses impressively quickly and lightly around every corner.

Sure, the chassis is not as comfortable as in the Citroën DS3. On the other hand, it doesn't annoy with annoying bumps; it remains consistently tight, but still handles transverse joints better and is therefore more reliable. No one can follow the Suzuki Swift Sport on winding streets - provided the driver lets the small 1.6-liter vacuum cleaner turn and turn. And turn. Because with a meager torque of 160 Nm (from 4,400 tours), the elasticity in the higher gears goes into the basement. Despite this weakness, however, the teat's thirst is limited. 8.1 L /100 km was sufficient in the fast test operation (DS3: 8.9 L /100 km).

Does that mean the Suzuki Swift Sport is out of the race? Certainly not. Because for only 18,490 euros it is downright seductively cheap. Yes but? But nothing. Even metallic paint, seat heating, automatic air conditioning, cruise control and bi-xenon headlights are already on board. For such extras, Mito customers would have to add over 2,500 euros - in addition to the basic price of 19,050 euros. The small car from Italy cannot offer much more shine than a little chrome on the outer skin, air conditioning, CD radio and power windows.After all: the classic, easy-to-read round instruments are reminiscent of sporty Alfa times, and the equipment list offers plenty of extras (mirror caps, stickers, headlamp frames) for the Alfa Romeo Mito 1.4 to be further spiced up.

Alfa Romeo Mito is the only one to crack the 9.0-liter brand

As standard, the Alfa Romeo Mito 1.4 TB 16V Super, on the other hand, is the powerful Multiair turbo gasoline engine with 135 PS. Still a bit rough when standing, it moves the Mito forward smoothly. Especially if the dynamic mode was activated beforehand via the DNA button. The gas pedal characteristic is then set to full power, which helps the 1.2-ton two-door model to achieve 206 Nm and acceleration values ​​for the Suzuki Swift Sport. It's just a shame that the responsive engine is coupled to an imprecise five-speed gearbox. This means that not only is the switching fun almost zero, the briefly translated fifth gear also ensures that the four-cylinder makes a lot of noise from 150 km /h. Although the trunk holds 270 liters (15 liters less than in the Citroën DS3) and you can sit comfortably in the rear, long shopping trips are no fun. And they get expensive. Despite the start-stop system, the Alfa Romeo Mito is the only one to break the nine-liter mark. The elaborately designed four-cylinder injected a minimum of 6.1 L /100 km - half a liter more than the significantly more powerful turbo in the Citroën DS3.

The Alfa Romeo Mito is also not very enjoyable on the brisk lap across the country . The hoped-for sportiness is quickly gone. The diffuse steering, which is also not immune to drive influences, thwarted precise cornering maneuvers as well as the jerky chassis. A cockpit that is constantly and annoyingly crackling on a bumpy track also raises doubts about the processing quality.

Honda CR-Z lets sporty small car competition pull

The Honda driver has to worry about such concerns CR-Z do not torture. Its driver-oriented cockpit is screwed together solidly, and the stiff chassis, in combination with the precise, shock-free steering, enables a high level of agility. There is also no lack of driving comfort. The driver himself sits deeply, feels accordingly sporty and still has to let all the competitors go. Why? The Honda CR-Z is an individual guy with green ulterior motives, a sports hybrid. HisThe 114 PS four-cylinder is supported by a ten kW electric motor, which can provide a small boost factor when the battery is fully charged. The maximum possible 174 Nm is still not enough to keep up with the front. After all: the green ulterior motive works. With 6.9 (test consumption) and 4.8 L /100 km on the auto motor und sport consumption lap, the weak Honda CR-Z is pleasingly economical.

The biggest drawback of the Honda CR-Z, It is therefore easy to see the body concept. Four people will never travel in a CR-Z. The two very narrowly designed rear seats are more like a jacket shelf than a seat. Also, the flat trunk does not allow for larger pieces of luggage, and given the massive C-pillars, there is also a massive lack of all-round visibility.

This leaves the expensive Honda CR-Z only a small triumph in the environmental rating. The jewel from Italy fought for third place with its powerful engine and good braking values. The small cars Suzuki Swift Sport and Citroën DS3 juggle for the top spots. Two almost iconic racing rolls that couldn't be more different. One the successful mini reinterpretation, the other the die-hard minimalist. Both convey driving fun in any case.


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