SEAT Mii review
The SEAT Mii brings some Spanish style to the city car segment
SEAT has a long history of making cheap and cheerful city cars. From the Fiat Panda-based Marbella of the eighties to the popular Arosa of the nineties, its small cars have mixed basic affordability with a pinch of Latin charm. The Mii is unquestionably the best city car to wear the SEAT badge, though, as along with its Skoda Citigo and VW up! sister models, it has redefined standards in this class.
All three cars get the same platform and lively three cylinder engine as the up!, but the SEAT Mii is cheaper than its Volkswagen counterpart, and gets a dose of SEAT's Spanish style thrown into the deal. It's one of the best city cars currently on sale.
Taking its design cues from SEAT's larger Polo-based Ibiza and Golf-based Leon models, the Mii gets a striking front end characterised by SEAT's trademark grille, plus swept-back headlamps, while the rear gets a distinctive set of zig-zag tail lights.
SEAT offers the Mii in three and five-door bodystyles, but both measure just 3.5-meters in length and all trim levels are powered by the only engine option, a 1.0-litre three-cylinder unit. The Mii's five trim levels are the S, SE, Ecomotive, Sport, and limited-edition Toca.
Our choice: Mii 1.0-litre 59bhp SE 5dr
Given that the SEAT Mii shares it's chassis with the Volkswagen up! and Skoda Citigo, you'd expect all three cars to look very similar in profile and they do. The little SEAT, however, has a character that sets it apart from its siblings.
Design cues from SEAT's Ibiza and Leon are clearly visible at the front of the Mii, where a much narrower 'arrowhead' grille is flanked by a pair of oversized headlights and whilst the Mii doesn't get the Volkswagen up!'s glass tailgate finish, it does benefit from a set of neat zig-zag taillights.
Given the entry level S model's low price of £8,060 its spec list is very basic, but SEAT fits SE models with 14-inch alloys, electric front windows, tinted glass and air conditioning as standard.
Sport versions of the Mii get bigger wheels, a glossy grey finish across the dashboard and steering wheel, plus a lower suspension.
Mii Toca editions come with rear parking sensors and a five-inch touchscreen SEAT Portable System as standard. This feature sits atop the dashboard, and includes sat-nav, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming functions, as well as a Micro SD card slot for music storage.
SEAT also offers a choice of styling packs as options which are designed to help customers personalise their Mii, inside and out.
The Mii's happy exterior transfers over to the driving experience, and it's great fun to drive thanks to its nimble handling and direct steering.
It's excellent visibility and light controls make the Mii a breeze to drive around town, while the low levels of road and wind noise mean it's equally as good on motorways.
The Mii's ride is also very comfortable, but the soft suspension means the little SEAT has a tendency to lean quite heavily into turns.
SEAT only offers the Mii with a 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine that varies in power from 59bhp to 74bhp depending on which trim level you choose. S, Ecomotive and SE spec cars come with 59bhp, whereas the higher-end SE auto, Sport, Toca and Copa models get units which produce 74bhp.
The 74bhp Mii has a 0-62mph time of 13.2 seconds which may sound underpowered, but given the Mii's minuscule dimensions, it feels much quicker around town and rarely seems underpowered. It does, however, need to be revved hard to get the best out of it, but either way, we like this particular engine's lively, off-beat warble as the revs increase - another aspect of the Mii that gives it a real sense of character.
SEAT's five-speed manual gearbox is slick, and a joy to use, but the the five-speed sequential automatic is slow to react and expensive.
In spite of its compact dimensions, the Mii fared well in the NCAP crash tests and was awarded five-stars. The littlest SEAT also received 89 per cent for adult occupant protection and a score of 86 per cent in the safety assist category.
SEAT also fits driver, front passenger, side and curtain airbag as standard, plus ABS and Isofix child seat fixings. The entry level S trim does not come with electronic stability control as standard but buyers of any model can select the Safety Assist System, which automatically applies the brakes at low speeds if it thinks a collision is imminent.
Unfortunately for SEAT, it has recently struggled in customer satisfaction surveys. In the 2013 Driver Power results, it finished a lowly 27th out of 30, meaning it had tumbled 10 places in just 12 months and found itself behind the likes of Citroen, Renault, and Alfa Romeo in the rankings.
Fortunately for the Mii, the main areas of complaint for SEAT buyers were high running costs and as the Mii uses the same simple mechanicals as the Volkswagen up! and Skoda Citigo there should be little to go wrong.
SEAT has made good use of space with the Mii and overall, it's a surprisingly practical little hatchback.
Although it measures just three-and-a-half meters long, the Mii is far more practical than similarly sized rivals such as the Fiat 500, and at times, feels as big as cars in the class above like the Volkswagen Polo.
Four adults can easily sit in comfort in the Mii, and passengers and the driver alike get excellent visibility and headroom.
The five-door model makes getting into the back easier than the three-door variant, but it's a shame that rear passengers have to make do with pop-out windows.
The Mii's boot space is also a big plus, and the 251-litre boot can be expanded to create a cave-like 951-litre load area, which is considerably more than the 500's 185 and 550 litres.
All versions of the Mii gets a clever double-layered floor, which means you can choose between extra capacity or a flat loading bay. Only models from the SE upwards get 60:40 split rear seats, while entry level S cars have to make do with a folding bench.
The Mii's also gets big storage bins in the doors for water bottles, and other personal items.
Whilst the Mii is only available with petrol engines, its 1.0-litre, three cylinder unit is remarkable efficient.
The smallest 59bhp models offers a combined economy of 62.8mpg and emits just 105g/km of CO2, whilst the 75bhp of the same 1.0-litre engine manages 60.1mpg, and kicks out 108g/km of CO2.
The Mii Ecomotive is the only model to squeeze under the 100g/km of C02 threshold, thanks to its fuel-saving stop-start system and tiny weight-saving steel wheels. As a result, the Ecomotive returns a combined economy of 68.9mpg and CO2 emissions of 96g/km.
Other running costs like insurance, parts and servicing should be minimal, which make the Mii is a perfect car for first time buyers.
SEAT also offers a range of deals on the Mii, such as a free servicing and competitive finance rates, but it's a shame that entry-level cars are so poorly equipped.