When: November 2011
Where: Barcelona, Spain
What: 2012 SEAT Mii
Occasion: International first drive
Overall rating: 4/5
Latest addition to the VW Group city car line up, the Mii is set to appeal to loyal SEAT customers and a younger crowd than its cousins. Continuing on where the cheeky Arosa left off, it injects a real sense of quality and flair into the sector and offers a frugal but fun ownership experience.
Pricing: €10,200 (estimated starting price)
Engine: 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol
Transmission: five-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Body style: three-door hatchback
Rivals: VW up!, Skoda Citigo, Kia Picanto
CO2 emissions: 105g/km (Band A, €160 per annum)
Combined consumption: 4.5 litres/100km (62.8mpg)
Top speed: 160km/h
0-100km/h: 14.4 seconds
Power: 60hp at 5,000rpm
Torque: 95Nm at 3,000rpm
In the Metal:
SEAT has always scored well for its styling, so you'd expect the Mii to be the sharpest looking of the VAG trio, but it's actually a disappointment. It loses the glass tailgate and cheeky front-end of the up!, and as result it already looks slightly dated in comparison, despite the neat proportions and stance.
Still, the cabin fares much better, sharing the layout and quality switchgear with its VW and Skoda cousins. There's plenty of room as well - four can sit comfortably and the 251-litre boot is almost twice as large as the old Arosa's. A worthwhile option is the SEAT Portable System, which controls the audio, phone and navigation systems in the car.
Let's get this straight, the Mii isn't designed for crossing continents - it's best within the confines of a busy town. The light steering, eager three-cylinder engine, large glazing and compact dimensions make it ideal for taking advantage of any gaps that appear in the traffic. Venture onto the motorway and you'll need to plan ahead if you want to make any real progress though.
Still, it's a pleasure to make use of the light gear-shift and eager throttle response in a bid to get the most from the 60hp triple. Explore the rev range, and once past 3,000rpm the engine's characterful warble encourages you to make the most of the rev-happy power delivery. Only an occasionally jerky getaway when moving off (thanks to the sharp throttle response at the top of the pedal's travel) lets it down.
There's little to complain about with the handling though; the wheel at each corner stance means the Mii remains flat through all but the tightest of bends. It can't disguise its short wheelbase though, occasionally becoming unsettled over larger bumps. Still, in general it's pretty comfortable, refined and offers a composed driving experience.
What you get for your Money:
SEAT Ireland will sell the Mii in Reference, Chic and Sport guises. All cars gain ESC (electronic stability control), auxiliary input socket and remote central locking. Chic adds 14-inch alloy wheels, leather covering for the steering wheel, handbrake and gear knob, electric windows, a better stereo, better seats and heated and electrically adjusted door mirrors. The top Sport version adds 15-inch alloys, front fog lights, tinted windows and sports suspension.
There are some big car options available for the Mii, including the SEAT City Safety Emergency Braking, which uses a laser beam to detect obstacles in front of the vehicle. At low speeds the system will even brake itself, in a bid to avoid a rear-end accident with stationary vehicles.
The Portable System offers drivers control of the car's navigation, audio and phone systems and will even display extra gauges such as the temperature of vital fluids. It'll cost about €400. The starting price is expected to be about €10,200 when it arrives in June.
SEAT is known to have more frugal, and at the same time powerful, ECOmotive versions of the Mii in development, with CO2 as low as 97g/km, but until the Irish tax system incentivises emissions lower than 100g/km it is unlikely that SEAT Ireland will offer buyers this car. However, a five-door variant could hit our shores by October.
Just who's going to buy the new SEAT Mii is a little unclear - especially as its price is so close to its VW brother. Regardless, it's a talented addition to the line-up that is sure to draw plenty of SEAT fans, especially if the firm sweetens the deal with attractive ownership packages for younger customers.