"The SEAT Mii is spacious, fun to drive and very well made - and cheaper than the Volkswagen up!."
The SEAT Mii is one side of a triangle of city cars from the Volkswagen Group, also including the the Skoda Citigo and Volkswagen up!. The three share all their mechanical underpinnings, yet manage to still look and feel distinct from each other. The Mii is easily recognised by its narrower grille, unique front and rear bumpers, and larger headlights. The up!'s glass hatch is swapped for a metal version at the back of the car, with SEAT giving the Mii its own, sexier tail-lights. It comes in four main specifications – entry-level S, SE, Ecomotive and top-of-the-range Sport. Inside the car, the interior is much more spacious than you’d expect for a small car, with the five-door model upping the level of practicality even further. The 1.0-litre petrol engine from the up! is available in the Mii as either a 60bhp or 75bhp version, and both are capable of returning more than 60mpg in fuel economy. It's fun to drive and is well suited to city driving. Finally, the Mii is cheaper than the up! and looks like a bargain when you compare it to its rivals.
MPG, running costs & CO2 emissions
Both of the petrol engines fitted in the Mii are capable of returning more than 60mpg in fuel economy, with the Ecomotive model topping out the range with 68.9mpg, while emitting a tax-free 96g/km of CO2. While the overall numbers are not as impressive as some of the fuel economy in many of its rivals, you can still be sure that whichever Mii you choose your fuel costs will be low. Insurance premiums and road tax will also be pretty cheap, with the Ecomotive model coming fitted with a stop-start system to help it reach that top fuel economy number. Overall, the SEAT Mii is a very appealing purchase for younger first-time buyers and city dwellers working to a tight budget.
Interior & comfort
You’d be forgiven for thinking that the one thing a Mii wouldn’t be is comfortable. But when you do get inside, it's amazing just how much space there actually is inside such a compact car. Headroom is reasonable, and there's even just about enough legroom in the back for two six-foot adults to sit one behind the other. Disappointingly, however, the seats aren’t very supportive and there really isn’t much shoulder room, so the Mii is only really suited to driving short distances. Having said that, the Mii's interior is certainly well designed and really does maximise what it has to work with. The suspension is soft so you get a comfortable ride – as long as its tendency to lean into corners doesn’t make you at all queasy, that is.
Practicality & boot space
It may be small, but the Mii is also surprisingly practical. In fact, you can argue that the trio of the Mii, the up! and the Citigo are the most practical city cars on the market. Up front, the Mii has lots of storage, including cubby holes, deep door bins and a generously sized glove compartment. All the dashboard controls are logically laid out and easy to use. Getting in the back is also much easier than you’d normally expect for a compact three-door city car, thanks to its wide door openings and easy-sliding seats. Of course, if you get the five-door then it's even easier. The boot offers 251 litres of luggage space, which is split over two levels, plus a handy floating floor that creates room for several bags or a full weekly shop. With the boot floor in place, the rear seats can fold flat to expand the boot to 951 litres of space – which is very impressive for a small hatchback. The only real downsides are that the shoulder room is undeniably tight and the back windows are pop-out only. Otherwise, four adults can fit in comfortably enough, with decent headroom, while visibility is generally good for all passengers.
Reliability & safety
The Mii is still too new to feature prominently in any major customer satisfaction surveys, but SEAT as a manufacturer has had a bit of a tough time recently. For instance, in the 2013 Driver Power survey, it dropped a further three places down the manufacturers rankings to come 27th out of 32, with reliability being one of the key problem areas, along with practicality, technology and ride quality. SEAT is working hard to address these issues, and the Mii is likely to perform better than most because of the class it's in. It's also likely to be fairly reliable because it shares the same underpinnings and mechanicals as the Skoda Citigo and the Volkswagen up!, and the overall engineering is relatively simple so is less likely go wrong. The interior feels solid and well constructed, made out of high-quality materials. Impressively for a small car, the Mii secured the maximum five stars in the Euro NCAP crash safety tests, with all models coming equipped with ISOFIX child-seat anchor points as standard. However, electronic stability control is only fitted to SE models and above, while a safety assist system that brakes the Mii at low speeds if it detects an imminent collision can be added as an optional extra.
Engines, drive & performance
The Mii drives a lot better than most of its rivals, and even feels like a bigger car on occasion. Its controls are light but they’re always direct, while the engine even makes a pleasant sound considering it's pretty small, which gives the car some real character when it could so easily have whined like a hairdryer – though at low speeds it does tend to rattle a bit. It comes with only a 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine that's available in a 59bhp version for S, Ecomotive and SE models, or a 74bhp model for SE automatic and Sport models, but that's all you really need for a car of these small dimensions. And that size also makes it easy to squeeze through tight traffic and into small parking spaces. We’d recommend the excellent five-speed manual gearbox over the automatic, which is clunky and uneconomical. You do have to rev the Mii pretty hard to get any kind of real performance out of it, but you’d expect that from a city car. The soft, comfortable suspension absorbs most of the bumps and potholes you’ll encounter on the UK's uneven country roads, and it even pulls off the trick of being a quiet small car on the motorway. The only real downer is the amount of body roll when you drive the Mii through corners.
Price, value for money & options
The Mii is priced slap, bang right between its fellow Volkswagen Group brothers, the VW up! and the Citigo, which actually makes it excellent value. It easily banishes memories of SEAT's previous city car, the uninspiring Arosa, and is one of the most accomplished city cars on the market. The entry-level Mii is fairly basic, though, but the S spec does add air-conditioning. The Ecomotive model, meanwhile, comes fitted with electric windows and remote central locking as standard equipment. SE and Sport models also add a leather steering wheel, tinted rear windows and alloy wheels. You can also add SEAT's removable sat-nav system, which has Bluetooth connectivity, a reversing sensor and an on-board computer, plus a clip that attaches it to the centre of the dashboard – if you don’t mind shelling out quite a hefty pile of cash for it. The cheap overall price means for the Mii are what basically ensures that equipment levels aren’t great, but a selection of personalisation packs mean you can get the Mii that is best suited to your needs and tastes.