It's the Seat Mii that's more exclusive than a Ferrari, writes Matt Kimberley, but is it worth the range-topping price tag?
You’d better move fast if you want one of these. The Mii by Mango Limited Edition is exactly that: its exclusive Oryx pearl white paint, special plum-finished 15-inch alloy wheels, plum upholstery and matching trim accents inside and out are only being brought Ireland in small numbers.
It’s based on the excellent standard car, with the marginally pokier 74bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine. It still uses low-friction tyres like the standard car, and it’s no heavier.The Mango is all about adding style rather than mechanical upgrades.
The standard Mii by Mango falls a bit flat in the style stakes, but the ‘Velvet’ purple-on-white of the L.E. works a treat. It’s much more noticeable, different and, with so few in the country, much more exclusive.
You wouldn’t want to pull up at the traffic lights next to another one, now would you?
Seat holds its hands up and openly admits the Mango is aimed at women; young women with at least one and a half eyes on the fashion industry. But in fairness there’s nothing about the design, colours, shape or driving experience that would put men off, except maybe the Mango badges, but then again, there’s such a thing as a Mango Man department these days.
It’s always amazing how much room the Mii platform, along with its Citigo and Up triplets, gives to both passengers and luggage. Two people can pack a week’s luggage into the boot if they’ve got a good record on Tetris, and four adults can sit back in comfort in the five-door cabin. It’s a little Tardis, this car, especially as a five-door.
A dinky 35-litre fuel tank isn’t going to get you very far, in theory, but the reality kicks that fear square in the baby-maker. It’s easy to top 60mpg in the real world, and on one trip in the test car, we even saw just over 70mpg. Treat it right and you’ll reach 400 miles per tank.
Having driven three of these supposedly mechanically identical cars lately, some seem sweeter than others. The tester here is a gem, responding quickly and pulling strongly (for a one-litre), with no rattles, squeaks or knocks from the suspension.
The thrummy three-cylinder engine does sterling work and zings its way up to 70mph much more speedily than its figures would suggest. The five-speed gearbox does mean the car is calmest below 50mph and gets a bit rowdy at 70mph, but at least this one has (optional) cruise control.
It turns with a little more dynamism than the standard Mii thanks to the larger wheels and lower-profile tyres that, nonetheless, don’t compromise the ride quality. If there’s a perfect chassis configuration for this car, the Mango L.E. has it. As for the seats, they are all perfectly comfy for journeys up to 50 or 60 miles, but are a bit too soft for real long-distance work.
If you can even get hold of one, given that they’re so few in number, the base price of a shade under €14,000 means value depends on what you compare it to.
It’s cheaper than a pre-options Fiat 500 Lounge equipped with the forgettable 1.2-litre 68bhp four-cylinder engine, and cheaper than the same 500 with the characterful 84bhp TwinAir motor. On that comparison, the Mango L.E. looks like superb value.
Women are the main target, and with only 100 or so of these yet to be sold, the only customers will be the quick ones.
Young drivers will love its combination of zesty joie de vivre and stylish add-ons, but that’s not to say it wouldn’t make a superb second car for a family.
It’s efficient, quirky and very likeable. Frankly it’s one of the best Mii/Citigo/Up variants yet built.
This car summed up in a single word: Catwalk-ready
If this car was a...: model it would have emerged unexpectedly from nowhere to get everyone’s heads turning
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved