Compact dimensions and low running costs alone aren’t enough for a city car; they also have to be simple to drive. That’s why the SEAT Mii has made such a big impact – and driving it just got easier, as SEAT has launched an automatic version in the three-door and new five-door.
The Mii auto has a five-speed automated box that’s loosely based on the five-speed manual. The clutch is simply replaced by some clever electronics.
This makes life in the smallest SEAT even more straightforward. True, the box hampers the response of the 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine slightly, but stay patient and it shifts through the ratios smoothly enough, then kicks down fairly smartly when asked to. And you can still change gear yourself by selecting manual mode and pushing the sequential lever.
The auto box is only available with the higher-powered 74bhp engine and in SE spec. That means you get 14-inch alloys, heated electric mirrors, ESP and air-con, plus a gloss white dash. Buy before the end of September, and the removable sat-nav and infotainment touchscreen –usually £275 – is free, too.
Plus, the new five-door adds a welcome dose of practicality – access to the spacious rear is much more straightforward than in the three-door. It’s just a shame passengers sitting there have to make do with pop-out rear windows.
The auto hampers performance slightly: this Mii does 0-62mph in 13.9 seconds, which is seven-tenths longer than the 74bhp manual car, sold only in Sport spec. But the trade-off is that the auto delivers the same 62.8mpg and 105g/km emissions as the manual 59bhp model.
Better still, the Mii’s fun, predictable driving experience remains. Light yet precise steering and tidy handling mean nipping around town is a breeze, and the soft suspension smooths out the worst bumps and potholes.
This simple life comes at a price, though. Our five-door auto is £10,740 – that’s £1,115 more than the 59bhp manual SE and £410 more than the 74bhp manual Sport. But city drivers who prefer autos will still find it easy to fall for this Mii.