First drive: The Seat Mii Electric proves EVs don’t have to cost a fortune

Ted Welford, PA Motoring Reporter

What is it?

Seat Mii Electric
The Mii feels zippy and responsive on the move


Like it or not, EVs are on the way. With binding UK legislation dictating that no new petrol or diesel car can be sold from 2030, electric’s time is coming, and quickly at that.

But among the main reservations from many about electric cars is the fact they’re too expensive and can’t travel far on a single charge. But what if there was an EV that solved both of those problems? Well, step forward the Seat Mii Electric, a car that aims to prove battery-powered cars don’t have to be accompanied by a steep price, while its 160-mile range should prove to be plenty for many drivers. But does it stack up?

What’s new?

Seat Mii Electric
The Mii Electric is one of the most compact EVs on sale today


If you’re thinking this EV looks familiar, that’s ultimately because it is, as the Seat Mii (along with its better-selling Volkswagen Up! and Skoda Citigo siblings) has been around since 2012. That was until 2019 when Seat discontinued the petrol-powered city car, before reviving it a year later as the brand’s first EV – the does-what-it-says-on-the-tin Mii Electric.

But there are few things to tell it apart from the old petrol Mii on looks alone, so instead, it’s the underpinnings that are the new part, which we’ll explore shortly.

What’s under the bonnet?

Seat Mii Electric
The Mii Electric should return up to 160 miles between charges


It’s a seriously impressive feat of packaging to cram all the electrical gubbins into the Mii, with Seat utilising a 36kWh battery as well as an 82bhp electric motor.

It’s a car that feels way quicker than the performance figures suggest – namely thanks to its 212Nm of torque – with the claimed 12.1-second 0-60mph doing little to showcase just how zippy this Seat is.

In terms of range, Seat claims it can travel for 160 miles on a single charge. While our testing saw a more real-world figure of 110 miles, it’s worth noting this was at the heart of February’s cold snap, so expect closer to 160 miles in real-world conditions. It can also charge at up to 40kW – meaning an 80 per cent rapid charge would take an hour, while plugged in at home with a 7kW wallbox, the battery can be replenished in just four hours.

What’s it like to drive?

Seat Mii Electric
The styling for the Electric remains largely unchanged over the regular Mii


A little bundle of joy is the easiest way of describing how the Mii Electric performs behind the wheel.

It’s around town where this EV is at its best, feeling exceptionally nippy and nimble, while visibility is superb, too. It handles well too, and is generally a very pleasant thing that does the job in hand without any real gimmicks – aside from being able to tweak the severity of the regenerative braking and three driving settings that maximise range or performance, depending on what your priority is.

While the ride quality and refinement aren’t all that impressive away from town, this is a car predominantly aimed at town and city use, and it excels in those environments.

How does it look?

Seat Mii Electric
The Mii Electric can charge at speeds of up to 40kW


A good design is one of those that still looks the part some time after it was made, and we reckon that applies to the Mii Electric, which still manages to look young and youthful, even nine years after the old petrol option first arrived in showrooms.

Granted, it’s not as cutting-edge in terms of design as more modern rivals, but with neat proportions, matte grey 16-inch alloy wheels and a cool Chester Blue colour on our test car, it certainly still looks the part. One slight gripe, perhaps, is that Seat didn’t do enough to separate it from the old petrol car, but many might prefer the subdued look.

What’s it like inside?

Seat Mii Electric
The cabin is largely function-led


It’s the Mii Electric’s cabin which is the only real area that shows its age, as it gets none of the large screens and digitalisation that you find with new EVs like the Honda e, for example. There isn’t even a touchscreen, but rather a little traditional radio screen and a clip to plug your smartphone, too. That said it’s still impressively effective and doesn’t feel any worse off for lacking all the latest tech – what you get all works effectively and is refreshingly simple to use.

The Electric model also gets a colourful dashboard and sports seats, which help to lift it further. And impressively it’s no less roomy than the old petrol model, though don’t go thinking it’s spacious. The rear seats are really best for children, and the 251-litre boot is quite dinky, though a useful boot floor separator keeps the charging cables out of the way.

What’s the spec like?

Seat Mii Electric
A small smartphone cradle sits atop the car’s dash


Things couldn’t be much simpler here in terms of spec as there’s just the one trim level as such, and the only actual options you can spend your money on are a £170 three-pin charging cable and £70 practicality package that brings a height-adjustable driver’s seat and double boot floor.

The standard equipment is generous, though, with features such as heated seats, a heated windscreen, cruise control and rear parking sensors all included for the price.

And that price is a really rather good one – £20,300, once the government grant has been knocked off. That makes it one of the most affordable EVs on the market, being priced similar to the new electric Fiat 500 that has a much lower range and also undercutting its matching Volkswagen e-Up! sibling by £750.

Verdict

The Seat Mii Electric is one of those cars that proves you can have your cake and eat it; you can have that decent electric range, that affordable price and it doesn’t have to bring any real sacrifice.

Add in the fact this electric Seat is a lot of fun to drive, well-equipped and still looks good without being over-the-top, and it’s a brilliant little EV.

  • Model as tested: Seat Mii Electric

  • Price as tested: £20,300

  • Engine: Electric motor with 36kWh battery

  • Power: 82bhp

  • Torque: 212Nm

  • Max speed: 81mph

  • 0-60mph: 12.1 seconds

  • MPG: N/A

  • Emissions: 0g/km CO2

  • Range: 160 miles