SEAT Mii electric review
Tougher new fuel efficiency rules have made it extremely hard for manufacturers to make money from small city cars, so the new SEAT Mii electric represents nothing less than the Volkswagen Group’s attempt to rescue the segment altogether. There’s no petrol or diesel sibling anymore: it’s electric or nothing.
A 36.8kWh battery returns up to 161 miles of range from a single charge, while an 82bhp electric motor delivers 0-62mph in 12.3 seconds and a top speed of 81mph.
A full battery charge from a 7kW home wallbox will take just over five hours via the car’s Type 2 socket, and a 50kW DC fast charger will complete a 0-80% top-up in around an hour.
On an average household electricity tariff, charging the Mii electric should cost a little over £5, which roughly equates to three pence per mile. Charging at night when electricity is cheaper could reduce those costs even further, although using a public charger will probably inflate them.
Those are decent figures for a car that costs £19,300, albeit after the government’s plug-in car grant of £3,500 has been applied. Granted, the purchase cost puts the Mii electric on par with a well-specced petrol hatchback, but it’s also the cheapest electric car on sale (with the exception of the Uniti One) where you don’t have to lease the battery.
Those low running costs will make a persuasive case for the SEAT’s city-dwelling target market, as will the finance on offer: PCP (Personal Contract Purchase) buyers will enjoy monthly repayments of £199 per month following an initial deposit of £4,000. The deal is even sweeter for the first 300 customers too, as the firm has promised to throw in a free wallbox charger, a three-pin charging cable, three years of servicing and three years’ breakdown cover to boot.
Behind the wheel, it’s impossible to ignore the additional bulk that’s been piled on as a result of the new car’s all-electric diet. The powertrain and battery have caused the weight to rise to 1,235kg, a figure that’s reflected in the heavier steering and increased turning circle.
That said, the old car was one of the most composed vehicles in the segment, and the new one retains that polish: the chassis still handles well and the tauter suspension copes commendably over potholes and speed bumps without much in the way of body lean through corners.
The Mii electric still feels nifty around town too, with a 0-31mph figure of 3.9 seconds translating into a handy burst of speed from a standing start. However, that acceleration quickly tails off, with the SEAT needing another 8.4 seconds to hit 62mph.
On the motorway you won’t struggle to keep up with traffic, but you’ll almost certainly be aware that the electric motor is reaching its limits of performance. And with no engine noise to drown anything out, you’ll notice the wind noise from the mirrors a lot more the faster you go. If you do a lot of motorway miles, these are factors that might make you think twice.
Back in town though, the Mii electric is extremely convincing, with its small proportions making it easy to guide through narrow streets and park in tight spaces.
A handful of driving modes are offered, focusing on comfort, performance and efficiency. The Eco mode limits acceleration noticeably, although on our test run, the range estimate on the dash didn’t rise by enough to really justify the drop in performance.
Energy is recycled by the regenerative braking system (in order to boost range) with drivers able to choose the strength of the deceleration applied: the lowest setting allows you to coast when you lift off the throttle, as you would in a conventional car. Meanwhile, the highest mode can bring the car to a complete stop without needing the brake pedal: if you can anticipate the traffic flow ahead, full single-pedal driving is achievable.
The interior space in the Mii hasn’t really changed, with enough room for two adults in the front and two small children in the back as before. The boot measures in at a paltry 251 litres, so those wishing to transport larger items will need to drop the rear seats, which increases capacity to 923 litres.
The smart interior design features body-coloured panels in the doors and a patterned surface across the dash to prevent everything from looking drab. The switchgear feels well laid-out, and – crucially – built to last. One minor gripe is that five-inch colour infotainment screen doesn’t feature sat nav, Apple CarPlay or Android Auto: instead, SEAT has installed a smartphone holster that will enable you to use the in-phone navigation apps of your choice when needed.
To simplify matters, there is only one spec for the Mii electric, with 16-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, rain-sensing wipers, heated and electrically adjustable door mirrors, air con, cruise control and DAB radio included as standard.
A SEAT smartphone app will also allow you to heat or cool the car remotely; a useful feature if you need to warm the car up on a cold morning. This same app will give you control of charging when the Mii is plugged in, so you can see how full the battery is at the tap of a button.
All in all, the SEAT Mii electric is terrific value. Just make sure you can live with its shortcomings.