What is it?
You know those competitions where they black out the outline of a car and ask you to guess what it is by its silhouette? Well the VW Group is in the midst of delivering a joker in the pack, as separating its near-identical VW Up, Skoda Citigo and Seat Mii is going to be impossible.
All three have the same dimensions, same engine line-ups (at least initially) and same mechanical set-ups. The distinguishing features only become apparent under detailed examination, as all have their own front-end designs, chiefly taking in the grille and headlamps. Oh, and the prices and on-sale dates will be slightly different, in the order of VW, Seat and Skoda on both counts.
The Mii, which will go on sale next spring and cost from an estimated £7800, takes Seat back to the happy hunting ground of city cars, which it previously fared well in with the Arosa. Seat UK sold 19,500 Arosas between 1997 and 2005, and reckons its latest value offering will fare equally well.
There will be three trim levels and two equipment packages, although the specifics of each have yet to be set. All that is certain is that Chic will add a chrome pack, while Sport will come with a hardened chassis set-up and tinted windows. Although the latter hints tantilisingly at a more sport Mii down the line, insiders say they’ve yet to be convinced of the business case for it.
The Mii will be offered with two petrol 1.0-litre engines at launch, with either 59bhp or 75bhp. Both produce 70lb ft of torque and are linked to a five-speed manual; an automated sequential gearbox will be sold later.
What’s it like?
We drove the more powerful version on a standard suspension set-up, and if there were any doubts about the VW Group offering essentially the same set-up across its three brands, there were quickly cast aside; whatever the badge on the front, this is a car that oozes first-rate qualities.
The 999cc 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 0-62mph in 12.7sec won’t wow anyone, it’ll cruise up to three-figure speeds given enough space. The gearbox is direct and light to use.
Steering is light and agile, if not massively feelsome. Again, that works best to the car’s city car credentials, as it makes nipping in and out of traffic, manouvering and parking simple. The ride is mostly excellent, although the most broken roads hinted at a slight firmness that may be exposed in the UK.
All this is delivered in a cabin that is notable for being functional, fuss-free and, in places, characterful. No doubt the high-spec model we tested helped, but the flashes of polished plastics and interior colour lifted the interior above the level of most rivals, if not up to the standard of the Fiat 500.
Although there’s no defying 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 might just take a weekly shop, and opens up by another 700 litres with the rear seats down.
Should I buy one?
If you’re heart is set on one of the three versions of this car, then its more likely that personal brand preference and the proximity of a dealer is going to sway you than the predicted small price differential. The Mii certainly makes its case just as strongly as its rivals.