IAIN ROBERTSON

Seat Mii EV

Seat Mii EV

Although potential buyers will not see their cars until the end of March 2020, reports Iain Robertson, based on the same technology as the VW up! and Skoda eCitigo, this landmark sub-compact is moving Seat finally into a fully charged future.

Earlier this year, I was fortunate to gain an insight to the all-electric Mii (you will find the details in our archive). It is a car with which I have felt a high degree of solidarity, having owned a non-electric Skoda Citigo variant, as a personal runabout. I would never have forked out my own cash on it, had I not believed wholeheartedly in its place in the new car scene and the integrity of the vehicle technology, which has been shared across the VW Group companies (although, strangely, not with Audi).

Seat Mii EV

Seat Mii EV

My logic for acquiring an example in the first place actually lay with BMW. Around the same time as I leased my Citigo, BMW had been laying out its plans for the i3 hybrid model, which the German carmaker had determined would never be bought outright by its customers. Desiring to reduce any potential ‘losses’ arising from a fixed price, fixed term lease, I figured that the BMW financial model could be replicated readily by Skoda. Had I known then, what I know now, I might not have proceeded with the package, as I ‘lost’ the residual value carried over from my previous Skoda Fabia S2000, even though lease payments for the Citigo were a mere £99 per month for three years.

The ‘problem’ arose when attempting to replace the Citigo, as payments shot-up suddenly to £219 per month and not for a like model-for-model replacement! To be frank, I lost faith in Skoda, which led me into the welcoming arms of Suzuki, first with a Baleno and now with a Vitara. As it happened, BMW dropped its ‘lease only’ intentions and buyers are now welcomed by the brand. I should highlight that I have zero issues with lease programmes and zero issues with the Seat Mii, which shares much of the Skoda’s character and style.

Seat Mii EV

Seat Mii EV

Key to Mii Electric’s success is relatively affordable pricing (from £19,300, including the government’s £3,500 grant). It is still a hefty price tag, when you consider that a lithium-ion battery pack has a notional market value of around £6,000. Naturally, the wiring and other EV elements add to the price but we are still talking in excess of a £10k premium over a top-spec petrol Mii. If that represents true value-for-money, then I should love to know what ‘profiteering’ means. More important to some potential owners is the tempting PCP offer from around £199 per month. However, you need to be quick off the mark to secure the opening deal that includes a free fitted wall-box for domestic charging, a 3-pin charging cable, free metallic paint, free three years’ servicing and free roadside assistance. The package is open to only the first 300 UK customers. While not wishing to act as a salesman for another brand, it makes the MG ZS Electric deal look like a conspicuous bargain.

The Mii electric marks the start of a comprehensive programme to electrify Seat’s range, with more electrified models arriving next year including: el-Born, plug-in hybrid versions of Tarraco, an all-new Leon and high-performance plug-in hybrid models from Cupra, including the Formentor, all of which we have previewed before. Needless to say, each of them will carry the profits-enhancing electrification premium that, to be frank, ought to be underwritten slightly by the carmaker, especially as it hopes that we shall all ‘convert’ in the not too distant future!

Seat Mii EV

Seat Mii EV

Mii electric’s motor is linked to a single-speed transmission, for its 61kW (80bhp) of power and 156lbs ft of instant torque, which means that the five-door hatch can reach 31mph from a standstill in only 3.9s, it should clock the 0-60mph dash in around 10.5s, with a restricted top speed of 81mph. Its 36.8kWh lithium-ion battery pack provides up to 161 miles of range from a single charge, based on the WLTP test cycle. Rapid charging (DC at 40kW) to 80% takes an hour, while using an AC 7.2kW home charger takes four hours to reach 80% charge.

It is well-equipped, featuring 16.0-inch diameter alloy wheels, heated electric door mirrors, privacy glazing and heated front and rear screens. The interior benefits from sports seats, some leather wrapped details and metallised dash trim. Its dashboard includes a 5.0-inch colour touchscreen, sat-nav and six-speaker stereo system. A huge number of key functions can also be operated remotely using the Seat Mii app.

Seat Mii EV

Seat Mii EV

Neat proportions (3.55m long, 1.64m wide and 1.47m tall) combine with agile handling to make the Mii a real boon in the urban jungle but it is very tolerant of higher speeds and main road cruising too. Located beneath the rear seat, the battery pack does rob a small amount of carrying space and the already pokey little boot (251-litres) can be expanded to a still exceptional 923-litres, when the rear seats are 60:40 folded flat. It is a truly excellent package.

The driver has unrivalled access to a surprisingly roomy cabin, with enough driver’s seat and steering column adjustability to allow a two metres tall occupant to obtain a comfortable and safe seating position. Amazingly, there is also enough space in the rear bench for two large adults, although seat belts are provided for three of a slighter build.

To be honest, I am glad that Seat (and VW and Skoda) has not compromised the first-class design of the original car, in going electric with it. Its timeless design is as fresh as a daisy and the only recognition points are the ‘electric’ script on tailgate and front wings. The Mii electric joins a growing range of EV city cars that are probably more welcome than their larger alternatives. However, away from the ‘freebies’ designed to grab potential early-bird buyers’ attention, Seat is not alone in needing to address true value for its newcomer.

Conclusion:       Boasting both driveability and practicality standards that are markedly above most of Mii’s potential rivals, the all-electric baby Seat, built in Bratislava, is a sure-fire success story for the brand, with some pertinent caveats needing to be addressed.