The new Mii Electric is Seat's first step into electrification before its bespoke EV, the el-Born, arrives next year.
Of course, the Mii is a familiar car: the petrol-engined model went on sale in 2012 and has two very similar siblings, the Volkswagen Up and Skoda Citigo. But while Volkswagen launched an electric variant of the Up in 2013, Seat has waited until now for its zero-emissions city car.
It’s now the only Mii available, after the conventional versions went out of production in May. It’s a bold yet wise move by Seat: with increasingly stringent emissions regulations and profit pressures, there’s little life left in city cars unless they’re electric.
Of course, the longer-term health of the Mii Electric depends on broader strategic decisions by the Volkswagen Group. Signs are positive: Volkswagen has recently hinted there could be a future for an electric Up beyond 2023.
Not only is the Mii Electric, well, electric, but it has also had a mini makeover, receiving 16in alloy wheels and illuminated badging on the back and sides. Inside, it sports a redesigned dashboard, heated, 'performance-inspired' seats and a leather steering wheel, handbrake and gear selector.
As part of Seat’s bid to simplify its line-up, only one trim level is available; it includes metallic paint, lane-keeping assistance, fast-charging capability, heated seats and automatic windscreen wipers.
Most marked when you first get behind the wheel is the extra weight of the battery pack below the floor, which makes the electric model 306kg heavier than a standard Mii. It’s all the more noticeable in something so dinky as a city car, although not to the point where the heft is offensive to the modest driving dynamics of a small runaround. And, of course, there’s the added benefit of a low centre of gravity for handling.
Despite a humble 82bhp motor, 156lb ft of torque means there’s plenty of punch in the Mii Electric; it can accelerate from 0-31mph in 3.9sec. Even at motorway speeds, it feels adequate and planted, belying its top speed of 81mph. But this is not a car built for motorways: it's aimed squarely at “those who spend the majority of their time traversing metropolitan and suburban streets,” says Seat.
Unsurprising, then, that you’ll find the steering light and perfectly suited to urban escapades, although its vagueness is disappointing. It’s certainly not a trait unique to the Mii, but a bit more connection would be welcome.