City cars have gone from being cheap and unappealing tools bought for their low price alone to machines that customers buy for their cheeky styling, easy manoeuvrability and sheer value. Opting for one of the smallest cars on the road no longer means sacrificing comfort, refinement or equipment, with many of these lightweight models proving fun to drive too.

A raft of chic, affordable small cars has been launched over the past few years, including the Skoda Citigo, Seat Mii and Volkswagen Up (which share the same engines and technology underneath the skin), the Citroen C1, Peugeot 108 and Toyota Aygo (which again are virtually identical beneath the bodywork) and the Hyundai i10.

While the Skoda, Seat and VW threesome focus on providing a sturdy, big-car feel for a low price, the Citroen, Peugeot and Toyota trinity offer a more stylish alternative, with buyers able to personalise their car to a greater degree. Meanwhile, the i10 sits somewhere in between, offering a high-quality feel plus sleek styling.

What is it?

The Seat Mii is the middle child in the Citigo-Mii-Up family, sitting in between its Skoda and VW siblings in the price stakes. What this does mean, however, is that the Citigo is a more obvious choice as a budget option, while the Up suits those after a more upmarket small car. While most of Seat’s other cars have a sporting bent the Mii does without this, instead offering a competitive level of standard equipment.

Versions range from a basic entry-level model to economy-focused Ecomotive trim, more upmarket SE specification, high-tech I-TECH trim, racy Sport trim and stylish Mii by Mango form. Two 1.0-litre petrol engines are available – one with 59bhp and the other boasting 74bhp. Buyers can also choose between three and five-door variants.

We’ve driven the lower-powered five-door model in I-TECH specification, which weighs in at an affordable £10,345 and includes sat nav, Bluetooth and grey gloss dashboard trim.

What is it like to drive?

The 59bhp Mii that we drove may not have much power, but that doesn’t stop this small, lightweight car from feeling nippy and fun to drive on the road. What power the engine does have is easy to access, though for best progress you do have to work the engine, at which point you are met with an eager thrum from the three-cylinder motor under the bonnet. According to official figures, the Mii takes 14.4 seconds to make its way to 62mph, though it feels quicker than this in reality. Fuel economy is also strong thanks to a claimed figure of 62.8mpg, while car tax weighs in at a meagre £20 per year under current rules.

The steering is light enough for easy parking but heavy enough to give you a good level of confidence when negotiating corners. Similarly, the ride is firm enough to keep the car well controlled around bends while remaining comfortable. The gearchange is also satisfyingly slick, though getting into reverse on our test car took several attempts. Other models we have driven don’t have this issue, so we expect this was a quirk with the car we drove. We did find the gearstick mounted a little low for comfortable gear changes, however.

Though the Mii has all the attributes of the perfect city car, it performs well on faster roads too. Getting up to motorway speeds forces you to work the engine hard, though this isn’t a hardship. Refinement levels at speed are also good for such a small car.

What is it like inside?

The Mii may be a cheap car but it feels very solid and well designed inside, with stylish coloured trim on the dash and body colour metal on the inside of the doors brightening up the cabin. With all the key dashboard controls located high up with a large storage space below, all controls are within easy reach, while there is plenty of space for storing small items in front of the gearstick.

The chunky steering wheel is comfortable in the hand, while simple, clear dials continue the easy-to-use theme. Front and rear seats are also comfortable, meaning that taking longer journeys in this city car is no chore. Access is also easy as the seats are mounted relatively high.

Is it practical?

The Mii is a usefully spacious city car, offering lots of room for those in the front seats and a reasonable level of space for those in the rear. Access to the rear is easy enough thanks to the option of five doors, though there are only two seatbelts in the back, making this a strict four-seater.

The rear windows don’t wind down, however, popping out instead, which some rear passengers may not like. The boot, though, offers up plenty of volume for the size of car, though the opening is quite narrow, making it tricky to load heavier objects into the deep space.

Should I buy one?

The Mii is both a sensible and appealing affordable city car, with its interior, equipment level and driving characteristics all stacking up well. Its biggest challenge, however, comes from the practically identical Skoda Citigo, which typically undercuts it on price – a key factor in a good city car.

However, the I-TECH model we drove has all the equipment most city car buyers could want and is £15 less than the most similar Skoda Citigo. The biggest difference, though, comes as the Citigo returns around 6mpg better fuel economy and will save you £20 in annual car tax bills. Whichever model you choose, the Citigo-Mii-Up threesome should serve city car buyers very well.

The Hyundai i10 is also a sound option, while the striking styling of the Toyota Aygo may also appeal to some buyers. None of these are bad cars, so the best car for different buyers will all depend on taste. Those who choose a Mii, though, should be pretty happy with their choice.

Don’t want to buy new? You can browse for a used Seat Mii in our classifieds here.

The facts

Seat Mii 1.0 60 I-Tech

List price: £10,345
Engine: 1.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol
Power: 59bhp
Top speed: 99mph
0-62mph: 14.4 seconds
Fuel economy: 50.4mpg (urban), 72.4mpg (extra-urban) 62.8mpg (combined)
Emissions: 105g/km CO2
Euro NCAP rating: Five-star

Pictures: Seat