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WHAT CAR? Awards 2020

Added: 12 February 2020

SMALL ELECTRIC

It’s out with the petrol-powered Seat Mii city car, in with the Seat Mii Electric. If you think that the new Mii Electric looks the same as the outgoing Mii, apart from the ‘Electric’ badging, you are quite correct. And, if you think this car also looks like the Skoda Citigo and Volkswagen Up, well, you’re right there too.

The Up, Citigo and Mii were all released in quick succession back in 2012 – three virtually identical, very impressive city cars that were created as a joint effort by the mighty Volkswagen Group. These days, though, it’s difficult to make money at this end of the market, so, with city car sales dwindling and interest in electric cars rising, all three of these cars are getting electric makeovers.

We’ve already seen an electric Volkswagen Up; dubbed e-Up, it proved rather underwhelming. With a limited real-world range and sky-high list price, it really wasn’t recommendable. By contrast, though, this Mii Electric looks to have the crucial elements to be a success. Chiefly, a claimed electric range of 161 miles and one of the lowest price tags for an electric car.

But is it the most impressive small electric car on sale? Are there any drawbacks to it? And what’s it like in key areas compared with other electric rivals such as the Renault Zoe?

Read on to find out. And to get a great deal on any new car make sure you check out our New Car Buying pages.

Let’s start with the Mii Electric’s range. Its 36.8kWh lithium ion battery will provide enough juice for the Mii Electric to cover 161 miles on a full charge, according to the WLTP test cycle. We are yet to put it through our Real Range test, but the WLTP figures suggest that it is able to travel farther than a Volkswagen e-Golf (144 miles), although many other electric cars will go farther still.

Still, among the smaller electric cars, 161-mile range isn’t too disappointing and, significantly, the Mii Electric is much cheaper than its closest rivals – something we’ll cover in more detail later on.

But for now, what about its performance? Well the electric motor delivers 82bhp and 156lb ft of torque, and, while that might not sound particularly mighty, you can still be pretty sure of embarrassing most cars off the line at the traffic lights. Beyond city speed limits, though, the Renault Zoe has a definite speed advantage.

The Mii will manage motorway journeys (although its top speed is limited to 81mph), but its acceleration at those higher speeds isn’t as flexible as it is when driving slower. While it only takes a gentle squeeze of the right foot to nip into a different lane of traffic around town, it’s harder to get an equivalent burst of speed when overtaking on the motorway.

There are three driving modes: Normal, Eco and Eco+. Normal offers maximum power while the others limit it in order to eke out range (Eco+ even switches the air conditioning off). The levels of regenerative braking (a system that harnesses energy that would be wasted when braking and uses it to top the battery up) can also be controlled via the gear selector. In its highest setting, the braking force delivered when you lift your foot off the accelerator is strong enough to bring the car to a near standstill, but doesn’t quite allow for one-pedal driving like the Nissan Leaf’s system can. The brake pedal feels natural and consistent in its responsiveness, though – not something you can always say of an electric cars.

Around town, the Mii Electric is relaxing to drive. Its steering is light and accurate and the car’s small, boxy dimensions make it easy to thread through narrow side roads. A tight turning circle also helps. The ride quality is a particular highlight; it handles larger road imperfections, such as speed bumps and potholes, with impressive composure, and it feels settled at all speeds. It’s quiet, too – you’ll notice some blustery wind noise whipped up around the door mirrors at motorway speeds, but little else to disturb the peace.

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