SEAT Mii: First drive

The first model in a new SEAT product offensive for 2012, the Mii is the Spanish company's first city car since the much-loved Arosa died in 2004.

Points won't be scored for spotting the similarities to the recently launched Volkswagen up!, as the Mii is the sister car, alongside the forthcoming Skoda Citigo. So, should you go for the Mii over the new up! and established rivals such as the Fiat 500 and Hyundai i10? I headed to Barcelona to find out.
Styled alongside the up! and Citigo, under former design director Luc Donckerwolke, there are actually quite a few metalwork changes over the baby volkswagen.

At the front, SEAT's arrow-like family nose is well-executed, this means different front wings, bonnet, front airdam and headlights.

Move to the side of the Mii and there's a different rear quarter treatment, with the windowline being straight rather than upswept on the up!

At the back, the up!'s all-glass rear tailgate is replaced by a conventional one and there are different light clusters and a new rear bumper design.

Still, it remains faithful to the original up! concept, with its big wheels which are moved to the four corners of the car, the substantial wheelarches, the short overhangs and the lower than you'd expect roof height.

For me, if the up! is the neat, cutesy design of the three, then the Mii is more aggressive and masculine. I particularly liked the SEAT's front end design, but although there are significant metalwork changes, I still think it's not difficult to tell the Volkswagen and SEAT apart.

Move inside the Mii and with the Up! matching compact dimensions, the interior feels much more spacious than you might expect. Fit and finish feels unchanged from the Volkswagen (after all, along with the Skoda they're all built in the same Slovakian factory), but the Mii's interior doesn't feel perhaps as special as the up!.

Still, the instruments are easy to read, the dashboard design is attractive and the switchgear placement is also sound.

The spacious interior means even the tallest drivers will get comfortable in the Mii; the high-backed single piece front seats are also supportive. This was despite the lack of reach adjustment for the steering column. All round visibility is generally excellent too.

I sat in the back of the Mii and reckon there's enough room for a couple of adult passengers to travel in comfort. This is down to the 2,420mm wheelbase. There's also a reasonably practical 251 litre boot.

S, SE and Sport models will be available next May, with five-door, automatic and green 97g/km Ecomotive versions available later in the year. Prices are expected to start at £7,500, with standard equipment on all models including front and side airbags, ABS, CD radio with aux-in and daytime running lights.

SEAT MiiOptions, like the up!, will be made up of packs and features will include a SEAT Sport bodykit. One of these packs will also include the clever City Emergency Braking system, that will stop the car automatically at speeds of up to 18mph, when it senses you're unable to do it yourself.

Another key option is the "Maps & More" touch screen navigation, which is basically a portable Navigon sat-nav and MP3 player which fits to the top of the dashboard.

I got to drive the more powerful 75bhp version of the 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine (a 60bhp version of the same engine will also be available), which has 108g/km CO2 figures and a 60.1 combined fuel consumption figure. Long geared, it means acceleration is best described as lethargic. To get the best out it, you have to use the gears and rev it a lot.

Overall, the Mii's ride is refined and composed. Only bigger bumps seem to upset the little SEAT. The ride is comfortable and body roll is kept well in check and despite being perfectly weighted for town work, the Mii's steering is accurate and the brakes are strong.

Apart from the slow acceleration, the only other feature I wasn't keen on was the "Maps & More" touch screen navigation. The removable Navigon unit which is shared with the Volkswagen, didn't feel up to the quality of the rest of the cabin, was difficult to read and fiddly to use.

So, is the Mii better than its Volkswagen sister car? Yes, as the Mii's likely to be the better value package, the styling's likely to appeal to a wider audience and it's still great to drive.

Overall though, despite the silly name, SEAT seem to have created another fun and modern addition to the city car class. I look forward to a drive in the UK.

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SEAT Mii: First drive
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