SEAT Mii SE 1.0

SEAT is hoping that a dash of Spanish flair will set Mii apart

SEAT has always been big in the city car class. From the cheap and cheerful Marbella of the eighties to the popular Arosa of the nineties, the company has a strong tradition of affordable small cars.

Yet the new Mii promises to be the best yet. Like the Skoda, it’s a rebadged VW up!, so you get the same grown-up driving dynamics, roomy interior and excellent refinement. Factor in SEAT’s value pricing and it makes an even stronger case for itself.

Externally, the Mii owes more to the Citigo than the up!, as it doesn’t get the VW’s C-pillar kink or glass tailgate finish. However, the designers have grafted on SEAT’s trademark grille and swept-back headlamps, while the tail-lamps get a distinctive zig-zag pattern.

Entry-level S models do without body-coloured door mirrors or handles and only have plain steel wheels – even the most basic Citigo and up! get full wheel trims. Our SE test car benefited from 14-inch alloy wheels.

Climb aboard and the differences are even harder to spot. A SEAT steering wheel and a different font for the dials are the biggest changes, while SE models get a gloss-white dashboard finish, bright fabric seat covers and leather trim for the steering wheel.

As you’d expect, there’s nothing between the trio when it comes to space. The SEAT will easily fit four adults, while the cabin is littered with useful storage, including the large glovebox, a centre console cubby and decent door bins. The 251-litre boot is big for a car in this class, plus all models except the entry-level Mii S get a split-folding rear bench.

Despite these additions, the SEAT can’t match either of its rivals for standard kit. Air-conditioning, electric windows and central locking feature on most versions, but you’ll have to spend an extra £455 to get the portable sat-nav and heated seats, even on the range-topping Sport. Both of these features are standard on the High up! and Citigo Elegance.

Like the others, the Mii is available with 59bhp or 74bhp three-cylinder engines. If you want the higher-powered one, you have to fork out for the £9,980 Sport or the £10,390 SE with an auto box, while stop-start is available only on the £9,180, 59bhp Ecomotive model.

At the track, our 1.0 SE struggled against its more powerful rivals, needing 14.4 seconds to sprint from 0-60mph. Yet it’s impossible to detect a difference in day-to-day driving, as all of them produce 95Nm of torque. The Mii also shares the other cars’ nimble handling, direct steering and composed ride.

Light controls and great visibility make it a breeze to drive in town, while low road and wind noise mean it’s relaxed on motorways.

With prices starting at £7,845, the SEAT undercuts the entry-level VW by £150, and the top-spec Sport is £535 less than the High up!.

Yet it’s more expensive than the Skoda, while our 1.0 SE test car isn’t as efficient as the more powerful Citigo, with 49.2mpg economy and 105g/km emissions. So does this mean it loses out to its better-value Czech mate?

Details

Chart position: 3Why: The last of the trio to hit UK showrooms, the SEAT aims to deliver the same brilliant package and driving experience, but with a dash of Spanish style.

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