5.11.2020Seat Mii Electric review
Seat has made a huge change to its Mii line-up. It might look almost exactly the same as before but, as the saying goes, it’s what’s underneath that counts. And what’s underneath here is an electric powertrain. Seat has binned the petrol-powered Mii range, and replaced it with the Mii Electric. We test the pure-electric city car to see how it stacks up.
Review by Chris Lilly
The Mii Electric does what many a VW Group product does, and shares parts with other models. In this case, the Mii Electric is Seat’s version of the VW e-up!, with the Spanish brand waiting until a good time to bring EV power to its smallest car. Until a recent update, the VW e-up! was a great little city car, but the range was short and the price high for what buyers got. A price reduction for the VW in addition to a battery upgrade and significantly longer range brought the e-up! back into serious consideration for car buyers. With Seat - and other sister-brand Skoda’s CitiGo iV - buyers can now have a choice of three compact EVs with the same powertrain and space, just with different equipment levels and price points. As such, the Mii Electric uses an 83 kW motor powering the front wheels for a 0-62 mph time of 12.3 seconds. That’s a sluggish sprint, but the Mii Electric feels much faster in shorter sprints and at lower speeds. It’s a natural strength for electric cars with small motors, and the Mii Electric will behave brilliantly around town. In fact, it behaves better than the previous petrol-powered version. On the open road, it will easily travel at motorway speeds, though this isn’t a comfort point for it, and it deals well with rural routes.
The Mii Electric is well tailored for urban driving, featuring wheels pushed into each corner, minimising overhangs and improving agility. It’s short, compact, and fun to drive in a way that only properly small cars can. As mentioned above, the electric element only improves its ability in town, with instant response from the motor able to get the Seat out of junctions quickly. Handling-wise, with the battery placed in the car’s floor, the centre of gravity is nice and low, making the Mii Electric sharper to drive than its petrol-powered version It’s heavier, but that weight is in the right place - low down and between the wheels. It makes the Mii Electric even better at being piloted through tight streets or car parks, and be really enjoyable to drive about town. It’s not bad out of built up areas too, but those compact dimensions mean it’s not as good as larger cars on faster roads.
Seat’s Mii Electric is pretty normal, and that’s a good thing. It drive’s like a particularly responsive city car, and it looks like Seat’s little city car. That’s all to the good, as whilst some EV buyers want it to stand out as an electric model, others just want a car that happens to be electric. The Mii Electric belongs in the latter camp, and as such, most on-lookers will only notice a difference when you pull up to a charge point rather than a petrol pump. It’s a decently stylish looking thing, though there are sharper pieces of design on the road in its class. It certainly won’t put anyone off buying one, and the design makes for a practical interior considering the exterior dimensions. The sharply cut-off rear means that head room in the back remains as good as you are going to get in a car the Seat Mii Electric’s size, and the boot is usefully sized too. You can get a pushchair in on its side easily enough, or shopping bags, a couple of suitcases etc. It’s never going to deal with a family camping trip abroad, but day-to-day life will easily be accommodated by the Mii Electric.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
The cabin is also identical to before (plus the e-up! & CitiGo iV) but again, this isn’t an issue. Many would want a conventional touchscreen infotainment system, but instead the Mii Electric has a cradle for a smartphone. The app is well designed and includes all the features you would expect from a touchscreen system, plus it updates far more often because you’re using a smartphone. However, for longer trips, you want to plug the phone in, which involves having a wire trailing up the centre console. It’s a useful system, but not particularly tidy. Other controls are typical of the Seat Mii range, in that they are well designed if uninspired. Everything works well, but interest in the cabin is created by large flashes of colour from the plastic trim rather than the design of the instruments or controls. Comfort is easily good enough for a few hundred miles in a trip, so there should be no issues there, and space is good all things considered. It’s one of the better city cars for rear leg space, but tall adults still won’t appreciate the same long trip as those in the front.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
I mentioned above that Seat had waited until a good time to introduce the Mii Electric, benefiting from a battery upgrade. That pays dividends in this section, with Seat quoting an official range of up to 161 miles on a charge. It’s a good figure, and more than enough for the weekly needs of most buyers - certainly few will need to charge more than couple of times a week. In real world conditions, it’s remarkably easy to achieve too, as I averaged 4.6 miles/kWh over more than 430 miles with the Seat. That’s roughly 150 miles on a charge, but there were regularly trips that averaged 5.5 miles/kWh and more, giving a range of more than 200 miles on a charge. It’s an exceptionally easy EV to drive efficiently, and rarely did I try and hyper-mile. The Eco button was used only to see what effect it had on performance, but I quickly switched back to Normal, had more fun driving, and still achieved an excellent range for the Mii Electric’s battery size.
That battery is 36.8 kWh in capacity - though not all of that usable - and it can be charged at up to 7.2 kW on AC charge points or 40 kW on DC charge points using a CCS inlet. The Seat Mii Electric has selectable brake energy recuperation, with four levels available from practically coasting to almost one-pedal driving capability. It’s a good set-up and helps make the most of that range as demonstrated by the figures above. Stick it in D or B and you will still get a decent range, but use the regeneration levels - selected by knocking the gearstick left or right - and you can get maximum efficiency. There’s the previously mentioned Eco mode, and an Eco+ which severely limits performance. Ignore both unless you’re really going to struggle to get to a charge point. The app has lots of driving information built in, including charts, displays, and tips, plus the usual EV connectivity features to allow pre-conditioning, charge timing etc.
The Seat Mii Electric range is nice and simple - there’s only one trim available. Fitted as standard are 16-inch alloys, colour radio screen with Dab, USB, and Bluetooth connectivity, leather steering wheel and gear selector, air conditioning, cruise control, rear parking sensors, electric front windows, heated windscreen and rear window, automatic wipers, and lane keep assist. There’s also the Seat connect app, for EV management, parking position, and driving data.
For those regularly driving in built up areas, or anyone looking for a second car, the Seat Mii Electric is a great choice. Few would want to run one as the single car in the household should they even occasionally cover a few hundred miles in a go, but otherwise, the Mii Electric is keenly priced, decently practical, nice to drive, and extremely efficient.
Model tested: Seat Mii Electric
Body-style: City car
Engine / CO2: 83 kW electric motor / 0 g/km
Trim grades: Only one
On-road price: From £19,800.
Warranty: Three years / 60,000 miles
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 3.5 Stars