Converting the cheap and cheerful Seat Mii city car range into one that only runs on electricity might seem a curious decision initially – but with a P11D value of £22,745, 0% BIK for 2020/21 and a claimed 161-mile driving range, it certainly has the potential to raise eyebrows among company car users.
To be clear, once the Mii Electric reaches UK dealers in early 2020, there will be no more petrol-powered versions. It will be the same for the closely-related Škoda Citigo – which becomes the Citigo-E – though Mii’s other platform-mate, the Volkswagen Up, will continue with both petrol and electric power options.
Unsurprisingly, the electric versions all use the same combination of 83PS electric motor and 36.8kWh lithium-ion battery pack, which is an evolution of the drivetrain already deployed by the existing VW e-Up – the main difference being an increase in battery capacity, dramatically extending the distance you can drive between plug sockets.
Charging time is 13-16 hours on a regular three-pin supply, or a more reasonable four hours on a typical 7kW home charger or wallbox.
A 40kW rapid charger on the public charging network will give you an 80% top-up in 40 minutes. Still not as practical as filling the tank at a petrol station, but potentially manageable – though perhaps still only really suitable for drivers who are able to plug in the Mii Electric overnight or during the day at work.
What’s particularly appealing about Seat’s take on this electrification process, however, is just how normal it’s made the whole thing seem. The Mii has a few subtle electric badges on the outside, but otherwise looks like a regular city car – and a smartly specified one at that, given the standard 16-inch alloy wheels. There are no funny grilles or other outlandish details here.
This normality transfers successfully to the driving experience, too. While some rivals have gone for a futuristic feel inside the cabin, the Mii is comfortingly conventional, with a trio of clear and easy to understand analogue dials and the kind of carefully metered and attractive build quality that makes the driver feel appreciated without being profligate.
The motor’s 212Nm of torque delivers effortless progress – in fact, around town it’s really very nippy, as the accelerator response is instant.
It’s less startlingly quick at motorway speeds, yet copes with short slip roads better than any petrol Mii ever has and delivers its performance in the near silence that blesses all electric cars. Only a little wind noise disturbs the calm.
Ride comfort is great for something so small, while the steering is swift and direct, ideal for threading your way through urban traffic.
There’s no big central touchscreen, Seat relying on a smartphone interface and a pair of apps to deliver a broader multimedia experience in the Mii Electric. But safety kit is boosted with new lane-keeping assist and traffic sign recognition, and the single trim level comes generously equipped.
Looking for a small electric car that makes the transition from petrol or diesel as painless as possible? The Mii Electric is an excellent contender.
By CJ Hubbard