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The Top Gear car review:Seat Mii
For:A more sporting interpretation of the brilliant Volkswagen Up
Against:Is it the image or the price that's the key draw over the Up?
1.0 Ecomotive 3dr
What we say:
Seat spices up the city car market with another VW-derived car. It's as good as the Up and cheaper too
What is it?
Seat claims it is one of Europe’s most youthful car brands but, in recent years, it hasn’t sold anything particularly affordable to younger buyers. The Mii rectifies this; Seat’s take on the Volkswagen Up, its headline draw is being as brilliant as the Up for an entry price pitched determinedly below the VW. It hardly diverts from the template set by the Up – mild tweaks front and rear plus a different shape for the side glass are the main diff erences – but that’s no bad thing either. An effective replacement to the dim and distant Arosa, Seat has high hopes for its latest entry level car.
But so does Skoda and, given how the Czech brand does all the ‘cheaper than the Up’ stuff so well, it’s a tricky sell. Seat’s trump card is its previous presence in the market: people within the brand know how to sell small cars.
The mildly sporting characteristics of the Up suit the Mii rather well: Seat’s built its brand on driving fun and the Mii certainly delivers there. It is a willing machine that’s fun to steer, with a lithe sense of lightness that makes it nimble through bends. Yet somehow it also feels solid and heavy-duty, giving extra reassurance.
An oh-so willing 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine (either 60bhp or 75bhp) doesn’t have the power of Seat’s popular hot hatches, but you can rev the pants off it all day long and it’ll never grumble. The resultant wailing engine note is a treat to listen to. All this combines to make the baby Seat a surprisingly entertaining steer. It may not have the badges and bulges of the Cupra models, and certainly doesn’t have the power, but it’s just as much fun.
On the inside
Germanic quality, even when built down to a price, still feels a cut above other budget models. Some Seats can feel a bit flaky inside but not the Mii, even if it does lack the gloss-finish plastics that make the Up so premium-feel. That clever design means there’s an abundance of space relative to its exterior dimensions, while the more straightlaced cut of the rear window may make the three-door look less funky, but it also ensures visibility is better than in the Up.
On paper, the Seat is only marginally cheaper than the Volkswagen. The real reason you’ll go for this is its better equipment levels; you need to spend well over £10k to get air con as standard on an Up, yet it is fitted here on the £9,530 Ecomotive and above. The free road tax one is cheaper than VW’s equivalent too. The slightly sportier trims are a bit more youthful as well. There’s just one problem. The Skoda Citigo is equally Up-derived and is as well-priced as the Mii… Seat dealers, it’s over to you for the big sell.