SEAT Mii review
The SEAT Mii brings some Spanish style to the city car segment
The Mii is the latest and unquestionably best city car to have worn the SEAT badge. Along with its Skoda Citigo and Volkswagen up! sister models, it’s fair to say the car has redefined standards in this hard-fought class.
All three stablemates have the same basic architecture and lively three-cylinder engine, but the SEAT Mii is a little cheaper than its Volkswagen counterpart, and gets a dose of Spanish style thrown into the deal.
That’s why it's one of the best city cars currently on sale – although we tend to like the Skoda Citigo better for its even greater value.
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 the brand’s latest effort in the sector, and it’s basically a lightly remodelled version of the Volkswagen up! city car. Designed to battle all-comers in a busy market segment featuring rivals such as the Hyundai i10, Citroen C1, Peugeot 108 and Toyota Aygo, it also takes aim at more expensive city cars such as the Fiat 500 and Renault Twingo.
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. Only one engine is available: a 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol unit that comes in a choice of two power outputs. There’s an automated manual gearbox option, too.
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The Mii is available in a broad range of trim levels, namely S (and S a/c), SE, I-Tech, Sport and Mii by Mango.
The entry-level S has 14-inch steel wheels, and a relatively basic spec that does include steering wheel adjustment, a CD player, power steering, stability control and tyre pressure monitoring. The S a/c adds air-con, predictably enough.
Next up is the SE, which has alloy wheels, body-colour door handles, electric body-colour mirrors, split-fold rear seat, electric front windows, a six-speaker stereo and central locking.
The I-Tech adds SEAT’s sat-nav and Bluetooth phone tech, while the Sport goes a little further with 15-inch alloy wheels, sports suspension, tinted windows and front fog lamps.
The range-topping Mii by Mango is inspired by the Mango fashion brand. It comes in Black or Nude paint and has simulated leather plus Alcantara upholstery, as well as various exterior styling details designed to give a more eye-catching, premium finish.
Engines, performance and drive
The Mii's happy exterior transfers over to the driving experience, which is great fun thanks to its nimble handling and direct steering.
Its 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 – and that’s quite unusual for a city car.
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 – something the Sport model’s slightly firmer suspension is designed to address.
SEAT's five-speed manual gearbox is slick and a joy to use. We don't recommend the five-speed sequential automatic, though, which is slow to react and expensive.
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 and Mii by Mango versions get units that produce 74bhp.
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The 74bhp Mii has a 0-62mph time of 13.2 seconds. This doesn't sound very fast, 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.
If you opt for the 74bh engine with the automated gears, you lose half more than half second on the sprint to 62mph, which now takes 13.9 seconds.
Performance from the 59bhp engine is even less impressive on paper, but in reality it still feels surprisingly lively on the road – and that’s in spite of a claimed 0-62mph time of 14.4 seconds.
MPG, CO2 and running costs
While the Mii is only available with petrol engines, its 1.0-litre, three cylinder unit is remarkable efficient.
The smallest 59bhp models offer a claimed average economy of 62.8mpg and emit just 105g/km of CO2, whilst the 74bhp version of the same 1.0-litre engine manages 60.1mpg, and kicks out 108g/km of CO2.
The Mii Ecomotive is a variation on the SE trim-level that uses the 59bhp engine, and 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 to make it the most efficient model in the range.
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However, the Ecomotive's increased efficiency over the regular Mii SE seems pretty marginal given the low mileages most city cars run to, so it’s not necessarily the best buy from a purely economic perspective.
Other running costs such as 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.
You can’t get cheaper insurance than group 1, which is the rating applied to the entry-level SEAT Mii. And you can’t get a higher rating in the Mii range than the group 4 applied to the Mango range-topper – which means premiums will be low whatever model you choose.
The Hyundai i10 falls into the same 1-4 group bracket, but many city cars are a little more expensive to insure.
Current predictions suggest the Mii Sport model will be the best at holding its value on the used market, but all the Mii models should do comparatively well.
The Sport could retain up to 52 per cent of its original purchase value after three years and 30,000 miles though, which would be a very creditable performance. Automatic versions are likely to be the worst performers, but even they should hold on to 45 per cent of their value.
Interior, design and technology
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. While the Mii doesn't get the Volkswagen up!'s glass tailgate finish, it does benefit from a set of neat zig-zag taillights.
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Given the entry level S model's low price of £8,060, its spec list is very basic. Better is the SE models, which add 14-inch alloys, electric front windows, tinted glass and air conditioning as standard – as well as a leather-trimmed steering wheel which helps lift the ambience a little.
Sport versions of the Mii get bigger wheels, a glossy grey finish across the dashboard and steering wheel, plus a lower suspension.
SEAT also offers a choice of styling packs as options which are designed to help customers personalise their Mii, inside and out.
Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment
The basic S-level Mii does have a CD player, but it comes with a fairly weedy two-speaker audio set-up. You need to upgrade to SE-level for a six-speaker system, but as the SE comes with many other desirable extras you’ll probably want to anyway.
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Mii I-Tech and Sport editions, and the range-topping Mango, come with the five-inch touchscreen SEAT Portable System as standard. As the name suggests, this feature is detachable but sits atop the dashboard when in use, and includes sat-nav, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming functions, as well as a Micro SD card slot for music storage.
You can add the sat-nav to the lesser models as an option, and DAB digital radio is available on some versions too.
Practicality, comfort and boot space
SEAT has made good use of space with the Mii and overall, it's a surprisingly practical little hatchback in either three- or five-door guise.
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 such as the Volkswagen Polo.
As a result, there’s plenty of room for drivers of all sizes, although the basic S-level doesn’t get seat height adjustment – you need SE grade or above for that.
All models in the Mii range get practical touches such as big storage bins in the doors for water bottles or other personal items, and the Mii’s evident build quality and refinement helps make it comfortable on long journeys too.
At 3,557mm long, 1,641mm wide and 1,478mm tall, the Mii shares its boxy profile with its sister cars from the VW Group stable. It’s a little shorter than the Hyundai i10 and Fiat Panda, which are 3,665mm long and 3,653mm respectively, but a shade longer than the 3,466mm Citroen C1.
Leg room, head room & passenger space
Four adults can easily sit in comfort in the Mii, where passengers and the driver alike get excellent visibility and headroom. That said, it is still a city car so legroom isn’t the greatest in the back seats, which are far more suited to children.
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The five-door model obviously 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.
ISOFIX child seat mounts with top tethers are standard on the rear seats.
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 Fiat 500's 185 and 550 litres.
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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.
Reliability and Safety
In spite of its compact dimensions, the Mii fared well in the EuroNCAP 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 fits driver, front passenger, side and curtain airbag as standard, plus ABS and ISOFIX child seat fixings. Even the entry level S trim comes with electronic stability control as standard, while 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 as a manufacturer, it has recently struggled in customer satisfaction surveys, although the Mii itself hasn’t yet made it into our Driver Power survey.
As recently as the 2013 Driver Power results, the SEAT brand 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. In 2015, the brand had bounced back to a mid-table 15th position overall, but with a reliability category ranking of 19th there’s still some work to do.
However, on a more positive note the Mii uses the same simple mechanicals as the Volkswagen up! and Skoda Citigo, and the trio are built on the same production line in Bratislava. The Citigo has appeared in the 2015 Driver Power rankings for Skoda, coming 31st out of 200 cars for overall satisfaction, with a reasonable 65th for reliability and a 74th for build quality. It's fair to assume that the SEAT Mii should perform as well.
Fixed price servicing means the Mii’s first service at one year/10,000 miles will cost £169, while the second year/20,000 mile service will be £199.
SEAT also offers a monthly payment plan to spread the cost of servicing – it costs £19.99 per month.