Affordable Electric Car? SEAT Mii Electric review.
For – cute, drives well, regenerative braking, loves motorways.
Against – too expensive, not enough range, hates motorways.
“The car seems made for the outside lane. Unfortunately it is the nature of electric cars that at these kinds of speeds, unless it is a Tesla, battery capacity falls off at an alarming rate”
“carmakers need to be less ambitious and give us a better golf-cart”
My search for the affordable electric car is moving into a higher gear as the coronavirus lockdown ends and more models come on to the market.
The SEAT Mii Electric is my first candidate, and it certainly looks as though it might be a winner. After all, a car that small can’t cost that much right? Wrong. This cute little city car costs a cool £22,745, after tax and before the government subsidy, which currently stands at £3,500.
It is clearly based on the Volkswagen Up, (VW owns SEAT) which has also spawned the Skoda Citigo, so it is an occasional 5-seater city car. In electric guise, it performs very well. Instant acceleration of course from the electric motor, but it drives sharply and zooms around bends like a go-cart. It is most at home in town though. The performance data – 0-60 mph in just over 12 seconds and top speed of 81 mph – suggest a plodding performance, but nothing could be further from the truth. All the way up to its maximum, the car responds well to requests for more because of the instant electric torque, and it feels well within its powers at normal motorway cruising speeds. The car seems made for the outside lane. Unfortunately it is the nature of smaller electric cars that at these kinds of speeds, unless it is a Tesla, battery capacity falls off at an alarming rate.
On one trip of 86 miles, the outward journey of 43 miles included about 25 motorway miles, and actually removed 61 miles from the available miles indicator. The return journey, although also 43 miles, only included rolling country roads, and using the maximum regenerative braking settings, used up just 25 miles from the availability tally, for a total of er 86 miles. Another shorter journey of 34 miles, the first of which is a fairly steady uphill pull, used up 44 miles outward bound but only 15 on the return journey. This trip indicated at the start a “full” battery of 171 miles, suggesting that the top end of battery indications is pretty flaky.
The dashboard is a disappointment, with a clunky looking radio and media setup. The key numbers about the electric performance need to be much more in your face. And I wasted about half a day of my life trying to find the UBS port, which couldn’t be found in all the usual hiding places, but finally emerged on the top of the dashboard, behind a little cradle for displaying a SatNav device, which wasn’t there. The car requires a screen centred display for all the crucial data you demand.
One justification for the high price is the high level of equipment, including 16-inch alloys, metallic paint, sports seats, tinted windows, Lane Assist, Traffic Sign Recognition, rear parking sensors and fast DC charging capabilities as standard. And it doesn’t sound quite so pricey if you take up an initial offer of a £199 a month lease, after a £4,399 deposit.
The Mii includes SEAT CONNECT, which gives remote access and management of the vehicle. You can review driving data, parking position, vehicle status including doors and lights, and control air-conditioning remotely, from a smartphone app.
What to buy?
The SEAT Mii electric, and its siblings the VW e Up and Skoda Citigo e, all suffer from poor range compared with the competition like the new Renault Zoe (240 miles) and the Peugeot 208 e/Vauxhall Corsa (220 miles). And my idea of an affordable electric car means prices about half of these vehicles. The lease price for a SEAT Mii, of £199 a month sounds affordable, but you need to plunk down a £4,000-plus deposit. I think the big carmakers are misguided in their pursuit of an electric car which is simply a regular car with a battery. There is no immediate prospect that battery costs can come down to the point that buyers can be offered entry level vehicles that cost less than £10,000. Electric cars need to serve a different market. They need to be cheap, rugged, with a limited range of abilities – shopping, commuting, and the school run. In a way carmakers need to be less ambitious and give us the better golf-cart. Citroen is showing the way with its Ami 1, although it’s a bit too unambitious with its 30 mph top speed and 45 mile range. The SEAT Mii, and its Up and Citigo equivalents look like short-term trail-blazers for VW’s electric car onslaught, which will be led by the ID.3 in September.
My favourite in this more affordable segment is still the Kia Niro e.
|SEAT Mii Electric|
|Acceleration:||0-62-100 km/h 12.3 seconds|
|Top Speed:||81 mph|
|Charging Time:||claimed AC 7.2kW 80% 4 hours.
DC 40 kW 80% 1 hour
|Battery:||lithium ion 36.8 kWh 307 volts|
|Claimed range:||161 miles (wintonsworld test max 171 miles, only obtainable if you keep off motorways)|
|CO2:||zero at tailpipe|
|Emissions class:||Euro 3|
|Suspension:||McPherson struts/semi rigid coil springs|
|Boot capacity:||251/923 litres|
|Competition:||Hyundai Kona, Kia-e-Niro, Nissan Leaf, Renault Zoe, VW ID.3, Mini e, Fiat 500e, Peugeot e208, Opel/Vauxhall Corsa e, Tesla Model 3, Hyundai Ioniq, Citroen eC4, BMW i3|
|Would I buy one?||No|
|Price:||£22,975 before government subsidy|
|For:||cute, drives well, love the regenerative braking|
|Against:||too expensive, not enough range, keep off motorways|