SEAT’s Mii may be one for you

SEAT's new Mii city car is a lot of car for not a lot of money, says Iain Dooley, PA senior motoring writer.

It might be only 3.5 metres long but SEAT has big hopes for its Mii in the city car market which is serious business.

SEAT offers competitively-priced, well-equipped cars and the Mii continues this trend. City cars used to be stripped-out, frill-free affairs but buyers are demanding more refinement, kit, performance, space.

A four-seater hatchback, the Mii will accommodate four adults. In three-door guise accessing the rear seats demands a level of flexibility for adults but a five-door variant coming soon will solve that.

The Mii delivers a refined and easy-to-drive experience in a sharp-looking wrapper for buyers seeking affordable urban transport. Priced from �7,845 for the entry-level model, a whisker over �9,000 will get you in a surprisingly well-equipped variant boasting all the mod cons of something bigger.

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Power comes from a 1.0-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine mated to a five-speed manual gearbox and in two states of tune – 60 and 75bhp – with combined mpg 62.7 and 60.1 plus CO2 of 105 and 108g/km respectively. An Ecomotive variant ducks under the magic 100g/km thanks to engine stop-start, brake energy recuperation technology and subtle aerodynamic tweaks. Topping the range is a Sport model with lowered suspension. An automated manual gearbox is a cost option.

On paper the overall concept appears to be a win-win scenario –cheeky yet familiar SEAT looks blended with a focus on saving weight, squeezing as much out of the car's small footprint as possible, a deceptively-advanced engine and a price point-busting cabin ambience.

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Open the door and you're met by an interior that wouldn't be out of place in a family hatch costing five figures. The simple fascia layout is in keeping with the car's character, yet all the important functions – ventilation, audio – are within easy reach. The large speedometer is hard to miss, while the manual gearshift is slick and accurate.

On the move the Mii continues to punch above its weight. In 60bhp guise it is no slouch in stop-start traffic and it's surprising how little effort is needed to maintain a brisk pace. Engine refinement is top notch, with this clean-sheet design only vocal when you really push on. Even then it's only a throaty, three-cylinder rasp that enters the cabin, which complements rather than spoils the overall experience.

Factor in a remarkably supple and polished ride and it's difficult not to be impressed by the Mii when in its natural habitat. For the few occasions the Mii will see a motorway 60bhp is more than fine and, again, the engine's refinement and willingness shines through.

Sticking to 60bhp is a good plan if you want to spend money elsewhere, be it some funky trim enhancements or more toys. Regarding the latter, SEAT's pulled a neat trick with a low-cost, built-in navigation unit – as a launch offer the �275 sat-nav unit is free on SE Ecomotive and Sport models delivered by September 30.

The portable sat-nav unit docks with a dash-mounted cradle. Personalised with a trip computer and Bluetooth phone connection, it's another 'big car' feature for not a lot of money. The same is true of another affordable option – an auto brake function that's active at low speeds and can detect an obstacle in front and brake automatically.

Standard equipment includes front and side airbags, audio unit with MP3 player input and Isofix mounting points, engine immobiliser and height adjustable steering wheel. Plus there's a 251-litre boot with a moveable floor and 951 litres with the rear seats folded.

For a small car, the Mii makes a big impression. Performance-wise it demonstrates a level of refinement and ability that's way above its price point, while you sacrifice nothing in terms of creature comforts. It's a lot of car for not a lot of money.

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