Seat Mii first drive

Seat Mii  The SEAT Mii city car with the option of three or five door body styles caught my attention recently because of its low purchase price and the potential low-cost way to ownership.

The Mii is SEAT’s version of the VW Up and Skoda Citigo and it sits in the middle of their versions as far as price goes. The Mii starts from just £8,060, the Skoda from £7,990 and the VW from £8,265. All three ranges have the choice of 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engines with the choice of 59 or 74bhp power outputs.

What first impressed me about the Mii was the low cost of actually buying one using their PCP personal credit purchase scheme. My test version, the 59bhp, three-door Toca specification is £79 a month for 36-months with a deposit of £2,719. A more usable five door Toca model would costs £85 a month.

Seat Mii Not to be outdone Skoda have just started advertising their Citigo 59bhp SE three-door with a £69 a month fee with 0% APR finance after a deposit of £2,427 and they are including three years free servicing. VW’s offering for their three door Up starts from £99 a month for 35 months with a deposit of £2,743 and includes free insurance for owners 21 years and over. All offers of course have various conditions to them so read the small print carefully.

So for £79 a month, equivalent of five pints a lager or five glasses of wine a week, I could get mobile with a new set of SEAT Mii wheels. Bear in mind industry figures show that between 80 and 90% of UK customers now buy/lease a new car using finance of one form or another. Despite the poor interest rates on savings it appears we still like the thought of hanging on to our cash for possible ‘rainy days’ in these uncertain financial times.

The SEAT Mii 1.0 60PS Toca three-door is priced at £9,995 and will officially return 62.8mpg in the Combined Cycle from its throaty sounding three-cylinder 59bhp petrol engine. On test, covering my usual motorway, country A/B roads with some in-town travel, the test drive figure was 55.4mpg. But going into the on-board computer data I found the long-term average was 45.6mpg so some previous users either drove it harder than me or spent more time on motorways. I find with these small engines at 70mph motorway cruising speeds suffer more than 1.4/1.6-litre petrol units as far as fuel economy goes because they have to work harder.

The little engine is no ball of fire on the open road either with a zero to 62mph acceleration time of 14.4 seconds and for the record the top speed is 99mph. Driving up hills takes its toll on performance as does carrying passengers and overtaking slower traffic on A/B country roads needs a little thought. On the plus side CO2 emissions are only 105g/km so VED road tax is £0 for the First Year rate and then only £20 for year two onward. Insurance is rated as a very low Group 1.

Seat Mii There is also an Ecomotive level of specification for this 60PS (59bhp) engine. The power is the same but the torque a little less at 68lbs ft instead of 70lb ft and the CO2 emissions are only 96g/km so currently road tax is free every year. Both versions have a five-speed manual gearbox as standard.

The 75PS (74bhp) version of 1.0-litre unit, available with manual or auto gearboxes, still only has 70lb ft of torque, the official average fuel consumption is 60.1mpg, CO2 emissions are 106g/km so VED tax cost is the same as the lower power model. Top speed goes up to 106mph and zero to 62mph takes 13.2 seconds. These figures are for the manual version.

Highlighting the appeal of the Mii’s low purchase price and fuel economy potential, the 1.0-litre 59bhp unit is the most popular in the UK with three door models accounting for 55% of total sales being £350 less in price than five door models. When it comes to specification choices buyers still want more than basic levels. Just 4% of UK customers go for the base S level, 10% for the S+AC (air con) version, 4% for Ecomotive, 28% for SE, 41% for Toca and 13% for Sport.

The Toca version looks the most sense in terms of specification as it includes such items as electric front windows, electrically operated/heated door mirrors, 14-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, central locking, electronic stability programme, split folding rear seats, leather steering wheel and gear knob, rear parking sensors, Bluetooth and best of all the touch-screen on-board computer information system including sat/nav. All the controls are well placed and simple to use. The visibility is also first class – ideal for a city car. The interior fascia and door trims use a combination of painted metal surfaces and rigid plastics for durability but there is an element of modern chic about them. The cloth covered seats add a little ‘warmth’ to the overall interior appearance. At the rear is a small deep boot of 251-litres with the only drawback being the high rear sill which means heavy bags have to be lifted over it. With the rear seats folded the load space goes up to 951-litres.

Seat Mii Seat Mii Otherwise the boxy shaped Mii is functional and fits its motoring role in life. It doesn’t impress with its exterior styling, it looks a bit anonymous but above all it is fit-for-purpose. The ride comfort is generally quite good for a small car given the limited suspension travel these cars generally have. Potholes or sunken trenches across poorly maintained roads will cause it to hop around a bit even at low speed. On the plus side parking is easy due to the excellent visibility and its compact 3,557mm body length. Just don’t expect rear seat passengers to enjoy their ‘Mii time’ because of the limited leg room and far from easy access afforded by the three door body, the five door version is more convenient.

To answer several questions I received during my ‘Mii time’. It’s pronounced ‘Me’ and SEAT says the word Mii has no meaning. But after a little research on-line views think ‘Mii’ (me) follows Nintendo’s use of ‘Wii’ (we). Another view has ‘Mii’ used in Spanish as ‘my’ – as in ‘my name is’, – seems logical for a Spanish brand. Whatever Mii means, it is a price-leader model range for SEAT whose UK sales have increased this year by a healthy 15.2% Figures just released show they have already sold more new cars so far this year than they did in the whole of 2012 which was an all time record year.

MILESTONES. SEAT Mii 1.0 60PS 3-Door. Price £9,995. Engine/transmission: 1.0-litre, 3-cylinder 12V petrol, 59bhp, 70lb ft of torque from 3,000rpm, 5-speed manual. Performance: 99mph, 0-62mph 14.4 seconds, 62.8mpg (55.4mpg on test), CO2 105g/km, VED road tax £0 First Year rate then £20 year two onwards. Insurance group: 1. Warranty 3yrs/60,000 miles. Dimensions/capacities: L 3,557mm, W 1,641mm, H 1,478mm, boot/load space 251 to 951-litres. For: Low cost finance purchase option, low cost road tax, low cost insurance, reasonable real-life fuel economy, nippy to drive in urban conditions, easy to park, cheaper than a VW Up. Against: Anonymous styling with no Spanish brand flair, very restricted rear seat legroom, poor rear seat access on 3-door models, high rear sill for the boot makes loading heavy items difficult, limited acceleration on open roads and worse when loaded or driving up hills.   Miles Better News Agency

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