By Robin Roberts (and Miles Better News Agency).
SEAT Mii is the designer baby in the brand, and it’s a little charmer.
It was introduced as the Spanish company’s challenger in the booming City Car class of cars formerly replacing the Arosa, but to enhance its attraction there are a few distinctly fashion-conscious versions with special paint, decals and eye-catching equipment such as the Beats sound system on our Mii FR Line, launched in 2016 and made in Slovakia.
The strikingly sport-oriented FR Line comes with 16-inch alloy wheels, front fog lights, dark tinted rear windows and a black dash panel, while sports suspension – dropped by 15 mm (just over half an inch) from standard – gives a more dynamic feel behind the wheel but it firms up the ride as well. Distinguishing it from other Miis on the outside, are two unique items, Atom Grey door mirrors and tasteful black exterior door graphics.
The SEAT Mii is available in 3 or 5-door bodystyles and a choice of Design, FR, Cosmopolitan or SE trim levels, powered by 60 or 75 hp petrol engines; all with five speed manual gearboxes and priced from under £9,800 to just over £11,800. A range of selected equipment packs boost specification and prices. Our test car came with a Beats audio pack, large glass sunroof and higher performance lights, rain sensing wipers and DAB radio which put up the on-road price to £12,960.
The little triple-pot engine is an instant starter and very free-revving so it sounds like a sewing machine when you get moving. With its light clutch and direct short-shift five-speed gearchange that is a delight around town it comes with responsive and light steering for easy parking, while the brakes give you good stopping power when some-one pulls out in front.
The compact dimensions (it’s just over 3.5 m or about 11.5 ft long), and low waistline with big windows make it very easy to park in small or tight spaces while the optional higher performance lights and good wipers are welcome when the weather or light is poor.
Everything comes to hand and foot without a moment’s thought and the straightforward instruments with warning lights do not distract you but clearly inform you about what’s going on. The integrated infotainment system links to mobile phones and there is a fascia-topped cradle to hold one almost on eye-line.
Heating and ventilation is simple and effective in the small cabin and our car had the desirable full-length glass sunroof. Getting in and out is ok for those in the front of the three-door bodystyle we had, but it was a wiggle to reach the back three seats, although room was good throughout. The boot had a low lip, was wide and deep but not very long unless you dropped the split back seats to maximise carrying capacity. Oddments room was modest throughout.
The sporting nature of the FR Line means it is probably not as comfortable as the standard model, but it’s not particularly uncomfortable either. You can hear how hard the suspension works but its ride quality is reasonably good, firm yet compliant.
There is some body roll when you are pressing on along winding roads but it’s minimal and the natural tendency for the Mii FR is to run wide on tight turns but to safely get back on track if you lift off.
Noise levels are generally confined to that busy little engine and it’s pleasant up to a point, but there is also a background rumble & bump thump from the suspension and tyres.
Its performance is modest, as you might expect with less than a litre to light up and you have to carefully anticipate and act for overtaking with a plan every time. On the other hand, the Mii will happily sit at the motorway limit for long periods and it will effortlessly return fuel consumption in the mid-40s per gallon.
I would urge anyone to consider the Convenience Pack fitted to our test car because you get useful cruise control, parking sensors and a trip computer, but you might think about whether you need the large glass sunroof or heated seats.
The SEAT Mii is attractively priced, easy on fuel bills, cheap to insure and carries low BIK and VED rates. What’s not to like about this designer baby?
For: Agile, economical, good handling and ride, smooth powertrain, light controls, excellent visibility.
Against: Five-door would give better rear access, small boot when rear seats used, slow acceleration, busy engine at high revs.
Mini Milestones and Wheels-Alive Tech. Spec. in Brief:
SEAT Mii FR Line 1.0 75 hp three door city car.
Engine/transmission: 75 hp three cylinder, 999cc petrol engine, five speed manual gearbox.
Performance: 106 mph, 0–62 mph 13.2 seconds.
Fuel consumption: Combined Cycle 64.2 mpg (43 mpg on test).
Emissions and taxation: CO2 102 g/km, VED £140.
Insurance Group: 4E.
Warranty: Three years/60,000 miles.
Dimensions/capacities: L 3.56 m (11.68 ft), W 1.65 m (5.41 ft), H 1.48 m (4.86 ft), bootspace 251- 951 litres (8.86–33.58 cu.ft), three doors/four seats.