2013 SEAT Mii Hatchback Review

It's a Volkswagen up! with a SEAT badge - the Mii

SEAT's Mii is the third member of the Volkswagen Group's small car trilogy that has spawned the near identical Volkswagen up! and Skoda Citigo models.

Review

Good points: solidly built, fun to drive, low running costs

Not so good: Volkswagen and Skoda badges hold more kudos, spec not as generous as it should be

Test car details:

Model tested: SEAT Mii Sport
Pricing: €12,250
Engine: 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine
Transmission: five-speed manual, front-wheel-drive
Body style: five-door hatchback
Rivals: Fiat 500, Kia Picanto, Volkswagen up!
CO2 emissions: 108g/km (Band A3, €190 per annum)
Combined economy: 60mpg (4.7 litres/100km)
Top speed: 171km/h
0-100km/h: 13.2 seconds
Power: 75hp at 6,200rpm
Torque: 95Nm at 3,000- to 4,300rpm

Our view:

SEAT's Mii is the third member of the Volkswagen Group's small car trilogy that has spawned the near identical Volkswagen up! and Skoda Citigo models. Conceivably it is even more important for its brand than its siblings are for theirs as it was the first SEAT to emerge under a new 'German engineering, Spanish design' ethos and followed a €20 million investment in the brand from Volkswagen Ireland to carve a SEAT-shaped niche in the mindset of buyers - who thus far have migrated towards the Volkswagen or Skoda brands.

The upMiiGo could be called badge engineering at its worst, with few obvious changes between each car. The respective designers and marketeers have worked their hardest to separate the models: with the up! the more upmarket and cool and the Citigo taking a more conservative route. So where does that leave the Mii? As the sporty alternative of course...

While in the UK and elsewhere you can have you Mii with either a 64-or 75hp three-cylinder engine, SEAT Ireland has elected to only offer the higher powered version, immediately giving the Mii a leg up on its Citigo rival. And while, in my opinion, it cannot hold a candle to the up! in the looks department (with a lot of that down to the prominent Volkswagen badge and the loss of the rear glass hatch), it still does cut a swathe for itself. This is particularly true of our five-door Sport specification model that gained 15-inch alloy wheels, cornering front fog lights, sport suspension and rear tinted windows.

While this new Sport model is a little bit stiffer than the standard car on the road, it is not uncultured. This is as much owing to the fact that the Mii's chassis possesses a soft edge as default to allow it to deal with lumps and bumps in the city as well as anything else. We have always enjoyed the ride of the various upMiiGos we have driven and this car is no exception. If the MINI is a go-kart then the Mii is one of those big-wheel trikes that children throw around corners with abandon. For such a narrow and relatively high-sided vehicle there is barely any body roll to speak of and while the steering can be a touch light at speed this does come into its own around town, where it allows for easy manoeuvres in tight spaces.

In town, the three-cylinder engine works perfectly with enough get-up-and-go to scoot in and out of traffic, but when you come to the open road it can be found wanting. Overtakes require a lot of forward planning and even as you select another ratio from the five-speed transmission and plant your right foot there is still the inclination to close your eyes and hope for the best.

When you open your eyes again you are faced with an interior much like that of a 'big' SEAT model. This is both a good and a bad thing, as while the layout is logical and well thought out, it is here that you can see where the price difference between the Mii and the up! comes from. While the Volkswagen's interior is classy the SEAT's is a touch cheap. Even the leather steering wheel of our Sport model could not mask this. And while the preparation for the dash-mounted satellite navigation/media system is standard, the unit itself is optional. Considering the Sport is the range topper you would imagine this and the likes of air conditioning would be included, especially when you realise that the Kia Picanto gets the latter as standard.

That said the SEAT Mii still makes a lot of financial sense; available from as little as €10,105 for a three-door variant in basic 'Mii' specification the little Spanish city car emits just 108g/km of CO2 meaning road tax of €190 a year, while the fuel consumption figure of 4.7 litres/100km (60.1mpg) means you should not need to visit the petrol station too often.

Real alternatives:

Fiat 500: aging now and more expensive to buy than the Mii. No five-door version either, but the TwinAir engine can match the Mii's three-pot for character and efficiency.

Kia Picanto: the city car that ruled the roost until the arrival of upMiiGo still has a lot going for it.

Volkswagen up!: the class leader in this segment and offers just that little bit more than the Mii for the money.