City chic? Try Mii for size
The recently unveiled Seat Mii looks like it will be the city car to be seen in later this year, writes Martin BrennanTAKE A SEAT: The Seat Mii replaces the Spanish-based carmaker's Arosa model
IT may be a lean year ahead for the industry but motorists will be spoilt for choice with a dazzling array of new models coming our way. Many of these will be financially out of reach but the most exciting news is the arrival of very affordable city cars from the VW Group. Sibling rivalry will be in the air when the Spanish-built Seat Mii arrives in June, and later in September Skoda joins the fray with the CitiGo.
In one shape or another these could be the coolest cars to drive this year. All are very affordable, economical to run, easy to park, and surprisingly good looking when it comes to budget motoring. Each brand name has a strong following but in terms of good looks the Seat gets the vote. Spanish flair comes to the surface to give the Mii a personality of its own with its angular design -- a prominent arrowhead grille, large headlights, special bumpers and spoiler, a 50/50 glass-metal boot lid and stand-up rear lights.
Designers at the launch could be accused of going over the top in their admiration. "The smile on its face will put a smile on yours," they claimed -- and in fact it does look well in bright colours, especially when alloy wheels are added on the mid- and top-grade specification.
The Mii is shorter than the Arosa it replaces in the Seat family. In common with the siblings it is 3.5m long, 1.6m wide and 1.5m high and sits on a 2.4m-long wheelbase. Short overhands front and rear keep the compactness, while the long wheelbase and a small engine pushed as far forward as possible allows four adults to travel in comfort.
Although it about the same size as a Fiat 500, the extra space is also reflected in the boot capacity -- 251L jumping to 951 with rear seats folded for Mii and 185/550L for the Fiat. To get a spirited drive from the one-litre, three-cylinder engine it is best to choose the 75bhp version over the 60bhp offering.
This works best with the slick five-speed manual transmission.
The three-cylinder engine noise is not too intrusive unless you try to sprint from 0-100km in 13 seconds or go for the top speed of 130kmh. C02 emissions for the 76bhp unit are just 108g/km, which means the lowest Band A road tax rating with fuel consumption figures running at 4.58L/100km (60mpg) on average and 48mpg around town, according to Seat.
If you want extra economy the 60bhp unit will return 4.5L/100km, with C02 down to 105g/km.
Behind the wheel the electrically powered steering makes parking a fingertip operation and it is surprising the small spaces you can shoehorn the Mii into. The suspension is lively and there are no nasty surprises on corners and it handles bumpy roads with ease.
The driver gets a good driving position with an easy-to-use dash and there is plenty of glass to give good visibility.
The Mii comes in three-door configuration initially but a five-door version will arrive in October.
The entry price for the three-door Reference grade is €10,200 which makes it an attractive proposition as VW Bank is offering attractive loan terms to customers.
It comes with ESC stability control, four airbags and remote central locking.
The next level , Chic, gets 14-inch alloy wheels, Seat Pack -- easy entry seats with seat memory, heated and electrically adjustable door mirrors, electric windows and a six-speaker radio/CD.
The top Sport grade gets 15-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, sports suspension, and tinted windows.