If you think you’ve seen the Seat Mii somewhere before, don’t be too alarmed.
And if you haven’t, the sight of this compact three-door city car, or one or two suspiciously similar-looking vehicles, is becoming an increasingly common one.
The Mii, if you haven’t heard, is Seat’s version of the Volkswagen Up, which is also available as the Skoda Citigo. And separating the three at a glance isn’t exactly easy. All three have the same dimensions, the same engine options and the same mechanical configurations.
The distinguishing features only become apparent under detailed examination, as all have their own front-end designs, chiefly taking in the grille and headlamps, while the Up also has a neatly distinctive upswept rear window line.
The Mii takes Seat back to the happy hunting ground of city cars in which it previously fared well with the Arosa. Seat UK sold 19,500 of that car between 1997 and 2005, and reckons its latest value offering will fare equally well.
Seat offers five trim levels and two equipment packages. SE models add a chrome pack as well as air conditioning, electric front windows and a height-adjustable driver’s seat.
One option we’d definitely consider is the City Safety Assist function, which automatically brakes the car if it senses an impending collision. The Convenience pack is also worth noting, as it makes longer journeys more comfortable by adding cruise control, a trip computer and rear parking sensors.
The Sport variant, meanwhile, comes with a hardened chassis set-up and tinted windows. Although the latter hints tantalisingly at a more sporty Mii down the line, factory insiders say they’ve yet to be convinced of the business case for it.
Seat's Mii is offered with two 1.0-litre petrol engines, with either 59bhp or 75bhp. Both produce 70lb ft of torque and are linked to a five-speed manual gearbox. An automatic option is also available on SE trim levels in both three and five-door guises.
The 999cc three-cylinder engine is amazingly capable, both in its natural town habitat and on the motorway. At low revs it is remarkably refined, and at worst it only rises to an appealing three-pot thrum that seems to somehow enhance the experience rather than intrude.
While the high-power model's 0-62mph in 12.7sec won’t wow anyone, it’ll cruise up to three-figure speeds given enough space. The low-power version is around a second slower to 62mph, but you'll barely notice. We found the base version to be largely impressive in just about every situation, even if the ride seemed to become especially choppy on UK roads.
The Mii’s steering is light and responsive, if not massively feelsome. Again, that works best to the Mii’s city car credentials, and it makes simple work of parking, maneuvering and nipping in and out of traffic. The ride is mostly excellent, too, and the manual gearbox we’ve tested is easy and light to use – again speaking to the city habitat of the Mii.
All this is delivered in a cabin that is notable for being functional, fuss-free and, in places, even characterful. The flashes of polished plastics and interior colour lift the interior above the level of most rivals, if not up to the standard of the Fiat 500.
The portable Navigon sat-nav and media system is a worthy addition, acting as both a trip computer and map-reading guide.
Despite the Mii’s basic, small dimensions, there’s also room for four, provided the back seat passengers are small or not going far. Boot space is 251 litres, which should take a weekly shop, and opens up by another 700 litres with the rear seats down to give a 951-litre load space.
If your heart is set on one of the three branded versions of this car, then it’s more likely that personal badge preference and the proximity of a dealer is going to sway you than the small price differential. That said, the VW Up has better predicted residual prices.
The Mii, meanwhile, certainly makes its case just as strongly as its rivals, although for a more engaging companion we’d still recommend looking at the Fiat Panda.