Seat Mii S

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Price: From £7,845
Engine: 1.0-litre
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Power: 60 PS at 5,500rpm
Torque: 95Nm at 3,000rpm
Fuel consumption (combined cycle): 62.8mpg
CO2 emissions: 105g/km
Top speed: 99mph
Acceleration (0-62 mph): 14.4 seconds

If you've been within a million miles of a car magazine or a newspaper motoring supplement in the last six months, you'll know that the Volkswagen group is now selling a small car that is very good indeed. In fact, it's not just one car but three, although there are only small differences between them; Volkswagen's own baby is called the Up!, Skoda has the Citigo and Seat has the Mii. There are small but significant variations in pricing as well, reflecting the finely-tuned hierarchy of Volkswagen brands. The Skoda Citigo is the cheapest with a starting price of £7,630, while the Volkswagen is the most expensive, with the entry-level Up! coming in at £7,995. The Seat Mii is in the middle, with the S model that occupies the bottom rung of the ladder costing £7,845. Regardless of which you choose, though, this is a cheap car, taking the Volkswagen group's brands deep into market territory that has been dominated for several years by Hyundai and Kia.

I thought it would be interesting to try the most basic Mii in order to find out whether you really can can get a decent usable car for less than £8,000, or whether any buyer attracted by the low headline pricing will inevitably be drawn into the upgrade game in order to make the thing livable-with. The answer is that the S gives you pretty much all of the positives with very few drawbacks. This basic version largely shares its pretty looks with every other Mii – which I think is marginally more attractive to look at than its sisters – and its half-bare steel wheels don't jar too much. In fact, I think they look better than the plastic wheel covers fitted to other Miis that don't get alloys. The interior is a bit bare too, but there's no stinting on the very high levels of quality and finish that have already become the Up!/Citigo/Mii's trademark. You have to wind your own windows – in practice no inconvenience at all – but you don't get air conditioning.

On the road, £7,845 gives you all of the immense driving fun of the Up!/Citigo/Mii family. The S gets the less powerful 60 horsepower version of the smooth and characterful new 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine that is fitted to all of these small cars; although it gives a little away to the 75 horsepower variant fitted to more expensive Miis in open road driving, it still has a lively feel, and is more than adequate for town work.

Overall, the Mii S works pretty well, with only the lack of air conditioning likely to put some buyers off. If anything has buyers spending a bit more on their Mii, it won't be any real failings of the S but a pricing policy that puts worthwhile upgrades within easily affordable reach. You can get a slightly more expensive version of the S, the S A/C, which adds air con for an all-in price of £8,345, and it's probably also worth looking at the £9,180 Ecomotive, which uses technology such as stop/start to achieve even better fuel economy than the standard car. One particularly attractive option is the “Seat Portable System” which includes a bracket-mounted dash-top sat-nav without any trailing wires, incorporating a Bluetooth phone link, a Micro SD card slot and a trip computer; at £275, that costs scarcely any more than an after-market unit from Halfords. A mere £200 gets you the City Safety Assist system, automatic braking technology that stops the car in response to hazards not detected by the driver, and the sort of thing only previously seen on expensive Volvos - although if you want City Safety Assist on the most basic S, you have to fork out £200 for electronic stability control (standard on other Miis) as well.

The conclusion? A sub-£8,000 Seat Mii is a perfectly nice car but it's probably worth spending just a little bit more.

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