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Click above to view a high-res gallery of the Alfa Romeo MiTo and 8C side-by-side

Whether by design or just poor timing, the latest reports have Alfa Romeo presenting its highly-anticipated upcoming MINI rival to local dealers on March 18, just after the Geneva Motor Show where it was expected to debut. Following the first orders that will be taken in Italy in June and initial deliveries in September, the new Alfa hatch will be officially launched at the Paris Motor Show in October.

I have already spoken about my admiration for classic Alfas, and an announcement for the upcoming new Alfa Romeo Junior, based in one of the coolest classics from the '60s, is surely good news: There's always room for a sport compact fuel-efficient vehicle in the market and this model is promised to have the small-yet-powerful turbocharged engines already found in the Grande Punto.

Alfa Romeo unveiled recently the Junior. That's a name associated with classic cars, because for 20 years the Junior was the synonym of a small sports car, yet fun to drive (I have had the honour of trying one and it's one of the best drives I've ever tested). Due to the old Italian taxation system, these cars could be equipped with a 1.3 l engine which, if the driver behaved and didn't push the accelerator too much, could get very good mileages.