What is it? It's the last – but by no means the least – of the three models to be launched as part of the Volkswagen Group's city-car blitz: the Seat Mii.
Due on sale in January – with deliveries starting in late May – the Mii has the same mechanical bits as its stablemates, the Volkswagen Up and the Skoda Citigo. That means a choice of 1.0-litre three-cylinder engines, producing either 59bhp (tested here) or 74bhp.
There's a five-speed manual transmission, although an automated five-speed manual will appear later in 2012, along with a five-door variant.
The Mii's UK line-up will include S (black door handles and manual windows), SE (body-coloured trim, air-con and electric windows), and Ecomotive (engine stop-start system and sub-100g/km CO2 emissions).
Seat UK is also throwing a 'Sport' edition into its range; precise specs have yet to be finalised, but it'll get larger wheels (15-inch instead of 14-inch), premium dashboard inserts and lowered suspension.
Seat has also held off announcing prices, but it's pitching the car against the Citigo instead of slotting it in between that car and the Up. This means prices should start from just £7500.
What's it like to drive? A sweet thing indeed. Even the three-cylinder engine is extremely smooth, and it has just about enough torque at low revs to scoot around inner-city traffic with ease. Ask it to deliver all of its 13.9secs-to-62mph pace and you will hear it, but it never extends beyond an audible thrum to become thrashy.
The gearshift is slick, and once you've coaxed the 59bhp variant up to motorway speeds – not the work of a moment, admittedly – the powertrain fades nicely into the background. It's surprisingly refined at 70mph.
The steering is light but accurate – just what you'd want in a city car – and the chassis settings are firm but well damped.
What's it like inside? Closer to the Skoda than to the Volkswagen; extremely smart and functional, without feeling luxurious.
So, expect hard-finish plastics, but nicely textured ones that lift the car beyond the look of Hyundai's i10 and the latest Kia Picanto. Visibility is good and the seating position is fine, although we'd prefer to see a wheel that adjusts for reach as well as height (this goes for the Citigo and Up, too).
There will be an extensive options list, including grown-up items such as cruise control, parking sensors and an emergency braking system that intervenes to avoid low-speed collisions.
The removable sat-nav system should prove a popular choice, given that it's expected to cost not much more than £300, yet is integrated enough to offer nearby petrol stations when the car's fuel warning light comes on. The system's wiring will be standard on all models, though – so it can always be purchased later.
Seat UK is also likely to offer a choice of graphics and customisation packs that will include a different key fob.
Interestingly, though, the Mii does without the Citigo's novel – and useful – net pockets on the inner edges of the front seats. As you might expect, the luggage space is the same as the Citigo's and Up's, at 251 litres, rising to 951 when the rear seats are folded down.
Safety shouldn't be an issue either; the Mii, Citigo and Up have all been awarded a five-star Euro NCAP crash-test rating.
Should I buy one? Yes. Like the Skoda Citigo, the Mii is a better-value proposition than VW's Up, offering the same compelling mechanical set-up for a saving of around £500 per comparable trim.
However, splitting the Seat from the Skoda is a more difficult task altogether. The most probable scenario is that your choice between the Mii and Citigo will come down to (primarily) what finance deals and offers are in place at any given time and then which brand has a dealer closer to you.
When the options are as strong as these, that's a nice dilemma to have.
What Car? says…
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