SEAT Mii: car test

Posted on February 28th, 2013 by James Luckhurst

It’s great in town, but you’ll feel the bumps in the country.

SEAT Mii: car test

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What’s it like?
Small enough to exploit tight parking spaces, and it’s eager around town.

What are its stand-out safety features?
‘City Safety Assist’ is an option, using a laser to detect vehicles in front.

Who should buy it and how much does it cost?
It would suit a town dweller looking for a compact, economical car.

Our review: Good Motoring, Autumn 2012

By 2050, it is estimated that vehicle numbers will have increased from today’s one billion to an eye-watering 2.5 billion. As a result, the world is rapidly moving away from large, thirsty cars and progressing to smaller, more efficient models that use less fuel, space and resources. Some of these, such as Ford’s Ka, Fiat’s 500 and Smart’s fortwo, are appealing in design and are fun to drive. However, most are dull and uninspiring (consider Suzuki’s Wagon-R or Hyundai’s Move), appealing to folks who still find collecting matchboxes exciting.

We think there’s nothing dull or uninspiring at the VW Group right now, for it is here that a near identical model of a town car is being introduced under three guises: VW’s up! (which was reviewed in the summer edition of Good Motoring); Skoda’s ‘Citigo’ and – the third stable mate, reviewed here – SEAT’s Mii.

The Mii is the long-overdue successor to SEAT’s Arosa. Packaged to offer space for four adults and a generous boot, it’s small enough to exploit tight parking spaces and gaps in traffic. Access to the rear is easy enough, even in the three-door version. There’s also a 251-litre boot.

Powering the Mii is a completely new generation of engines driving the front wheels through either a five-speed manual or automatic gearbox. The 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol power plant is offered in two states of tune, with 60 or 75 horsepower giving top speeds of 99 mph and 106 mph respectively. With a generous 35-litre tank, you can expect to cover 500 miles between fill-ups.

There are four models to choose from. The SE, which we expect to be the best seller, has alloy wheels, leather steering wheel and air conditioning. The Ecomotive brings Stop/ Start technology. When you depress the clutch, the engine automatically
re-starts. We cannot fault the principle here, but after being stuck in a traffic jam for half an hour, we found the constant sound of the starter motor tiresome.

For only £200 extra, there is the option to have the excellent ‘City Safety Assist’ system which uses a laser to detect vehicles in front. At speeds under 20mph, the system will automatically stop the car if it detects a frontal collision is about to happen.

The little three cylinder engine, which is only 12” long, is remarkably smooth and quiet. The driving position is comfortable and all-round visibility is superb thanks to large windows and relatively narrow pillars. The pedals are light, as is the gearbox and steering, making this an easy car to navigate through city traffic. Impressive soundproofing means the warble of the engine doesn’t intrude much into the cabin. Around town, the Mii is an eager car with a good ride and a nippy demeanour. On motorways it can hold its own, but for us, its ‘town car’ origins make it frustrating for long journeys. Such a small wheelbase meant we felt bumps and thumps, but it was no worse than anything else in this class. The uncanny lack of any rattles from all models highlighted its build quality.

Price: from £7,845
Performance: 0-62mph in 14,4 seconds
Economy: 62.8mpg
Insurance: 1E
Tax: Band A (£0)
Verdict : 9/10