SEAT is planning a big €20m marketing campaign in Ireland in an effort to carve a definite niche for itself in the Volkswagen band of companies. At the moment, it is hard to see why SEAT exists, when Volkswagen itself and its value for money brand Skoda serve the market so well. SEAT was to be VW's sporty and very stylish 'Alfa Romeo', so to speak, but has failed to project this image. Newer product based on Audi and VW platforms is pretty good, but not truly desirable. The SEAT Mii will set the tone for how well the marketers can regenerate interest in the Spanish-based arm of VW.
Mii is basically a slightly different version of the brilliant VW up! and as such is also very similar to the Skoda Citigo. Mii is available in three and five-door variants. We got behind the wheel of the first five-door Mii into the country, which came fitted with the optional sports suspension pack. First up the access to the four-seat car is excellent, thanks to the functional, squared-off design. Not once did I need to contort my generous frame to hop in and out of the three-cylinder, petrol-powered machine.
The exterior is not as attractive as up!, due to the tailgate lacking the larger glazed area. Of course, up!'s big VW badging front and rear is very cool, but otherwise the large 'S' badge is prominent front and rear on Mii. SEAT is throwing a good deal of cool stuff at the Mii to help its sporty aspirations and the engine choice of the higher output 75bhp engine plus good trim levels reflect this. The entry point is Mii; then comes 'Chic' (the stylish version) and finally 'Sport'. Mii Sport is the most interesting from a driver's point of view as it comes with some nice toys as standard like 15-inch alloys, sports suspension, sports seats, front fog lights and a leather steering wheel.
On the road, Mii Sport is good fun and very composed for a small car. Motorway driving is not a problem and the cabin is refined, too. Town driving is good fun due to the nimble nature of the chassis and small turning circle. The sports suspension and shock absorbers deliver a smarter, more direct driving experience that is not harsh or overly firm.
Mii is a strong car in a collision, despite its small size. Sadly, where Mii loses out to the VW up! is on standard safety aids which simply make the VW up! the best little car you can buy. That said, ESC + Hill hold are standard - plus you can still specify 'Crash Safety Assist' for the nominal sum of €216. Mii pricing is very competitive, starting at €9,895 for the three-door, entry-level car. €11,350 gets the Chic version, while €200 more buys the Sport. All use the same tax band 'A' engine that is extremely economical and refined for a three-cylinder.
'Enjoyneering' is the phrase SEAT uses to describe its philosophy and with the sports suspension pack the little Mii is great fun.