Seat’s Mii provides the most fun you can have with your clothes on
Already contemplating his options since driving the latest baby Seat, Iain P W Robertson believes that 60bhp and a surprisingly sporty stance are all that even the most enthusiastic of drivers needs these days to enjoy driving.
When I did my last deal to be the user of a new car, I settled on a Citigo, because I have been firmly drawn to Skoda for the best part of 18 years now. In exchange for £100 a month, I do not actually own the car but I get to drive a vehicle specified to my requirements, with no hassle attached.
Had I been slightly less up-market orientated (for which you can also read ‘anal’) and overly keen to make my Citigo look less like a city runabout and more like a mini Mafia staff car, I would have settled on the Seat Mii instead, especially in TOCA trim, complete with manual 5-speed gearbox (my Skoda has the model’s automated single-clutch alternative). Perhaps I should also highlight that my car has the 75bhp version of the 1.0-litre ‘triple’ that Seat also shares but is in 60bhp form here.
In truth, there is no need for any more brake-horsepower, as this version of the Mii’s 60bhp is more than adequate, even for a dyed-in-the-wool petrol-head like me. I felt that 75bhp might make life easier for me and my bulk but, as this Seat proves, 60bhp is well up to the task and it is a hoot to drive too.
Please allow me to put all of this into perspective. The Seat Mii TOCA costs from £9,995, plus £450 for the Night Blue paint finish. It is classified as being capable of 62.8mpg, although I managed not to attain more than 58mpg (still a great figure). Its exhaust emits 105g/km of CO2 (Band B), which means that its VED is free in the first year but £20 per annum thereafter, which is really miserly. It is said to accelerate from 0-60mph in 14.0 seconds, before topping out at 99mph. The reality is that the Mii is seldom left behind and an indicated 110mph is on the cards.
However, bald figures do not do this car any justice at all. Scanning its specification reveals that it contains nothing outstanding but includes front fogs, a rear wash-wipe, a height but not reach adjustable steering column, a set of attractive alloys, the Barcelona Blue seat trim (complete with turquoise piping), a white dash panel (great for the kids to draw on), heated electric mirrors, rear parking sensors, electric windows, partial leather trim (steering wheel rim and so on) and the excellent, removable, Seat Portable System that incorporates a fail-safe sat-nav, on-board car computer and multimedia interface. A comprehensive specification is all you need to live an eminently satisfied motoring life.
For a two metres tall individual (c’est moi), there is an abundance of space in the front seats, although those in the rear would suffer from a lack of knee room. There is plenty of headroom up-front and enough width that two fat blokes can sit side-by-side without brushing shoulders embarrassingly. The driver is confronted by a simple and legible large speedometer, a smaller rev-counter and a matching fuel gauge. All other controls are on the removable PDA in the centre of the dash-top, with the heating and ventilation controls sitting above the stereo head unit located just below. It is very elegant and accessible.
The turquoise (bath toy) colour inserts to match the blue-piped seat upholstery are on the steering wheel spokes, around the rotary-flap air vents and the HVAC and stereo head-unit, as well as the gear knob. Although I hated it initially, I soon became accustomed to its cheeriness. There are no extraneous switches, or buttons, and life inside the Mii is singularly uncomplicated, a quality that most button-pushers will have forgotten about. In case you wondered, access to the surprisingly spacious boot (enough depth for a ten-bag weekend shopping trip, or a couple of sets of golf clubs (just!) is via the hatchback and the back seats will fold to increase the space substantially. It is worth highlighting that the three-door models (five-doors are available) offer excellent front seat access, although getting into the rear is hindered by the non-memory front seats, which is a bit of cost corner-cutting that could be deemed unnecessary.
Externally, it is the VW up! version of the Up-Mii-Citigo (if you’ll pardon the expression) that stands out, due to its quite different front and rear bumper treatments, as well as the more raked rear side windows. If that justifies a £500+ price premium, I guess badge-snobs can live with it. Apart from the front and rear lamp units and grille designs, there is little to split the Mii from Citigo, either of which I would own in a trice (oh, I do!).
On the road, the differences are so small as to be negligible. I shall make no bones about it, were any of the three brands sharing this Bratislava, Slovakian-made body to offer a turbocharged, 100bhp alternative power unit, I would have one instantly (I know that it exists). While a lot of joy can be obtained from driving a low-powered car at close to 100% of its capabilities, more so than a high-powered alternative at 60% of its potential, the extra grunt would enable a more relaxing experience, at times. It is a possibility but all brands are being very coy about it.
Yet, when I took the Mii on a round-trip from Lincoln to County Durham, departing at 9.30am and returning, 276 miles later, at 2.30pm, including stops for both the business I needed to carry out and lunch, I felt none the worse for the fairly hard drive and the very few occasions that the speedo needle dropped below an indicated 80mph. The Mii returned 55.4mpg, its gem of an engine neither missing a beat, nor feeling in any way strained. I could have continued driving with ease and that is this small car’s amazing forte; it might be tiny but it delivers way above expectations in great waves of driver satisfaction. At no time does it feel under-powered and its gearing is absolutely right. As a measure of its competence, only one car overtook during the entire trip, most of which was on the A1. In fact, it performs so closely to the 75bhp alternative that I wonder why I bothered investing in it at all. It might have been a false economy.
Conclusion: I like the fact that Seat is coming good as a brand and that one of its deals is the car tested here for just £75 per month, all at 0% finance. It is a pocket-money deal that makes you realise that motoring need not cost an arm and a leg, while remaining both a massively enjoyable exercise and pastime. Plus, I now have extra money for other exploits. The little Seat is a right royal beauty.