It’s Friday morning and a knock on the door signals the arrival of the SEAT Mii Toca. The delivery man seems to be in a remarkably good mood, having enjoyed his early morning run with the little Spaniard.
I’m already familiar with the Mii’s charms after spending a week with the stripy Vibora Negra a few months ago. This Toca is its cheaper, less flamboyant cousin, and the Night Blue metallic paintwork seems a little subdued for what is such a cheery car. Bright colours suit it better.
Mind you, there’s an assault on the senses on the inside. Not only has it got a large expanse of white plastic covering the full width of the dashboard, it’s also got bits of turquoise trim on the dash, seats, steering wheel and gear-stick. It’s fine if you like turquoise. If not, well … you don’t have a lot of choice in the matter.
If your Spanish is any good then you’ll know that Toca means ‘touch’, which gives a clue to the Toca’s main feature. Yes, the removable touch-screen has been promoted from the options list to standard specification. It combines trip computer, Bluetooth and Garmin sat-nav in one
Anyway, off to work and straight away the Mii reminds me why it’s such a fun car to drive quickly. With only 60PS to hustle it along you have to resort to the old-school methods of momentum conservation. The brake pedal becomes your enemy and forward planning is crucial, but the Mii is a willing partner.
There’s roll aplenty and the soft suspension adds a floaty element to the ride but you when you chuck the featherweight Mii into a corner it responds eagerly. The narrow, eco-spec tyres mean that grip is in short supply but it breaks away in a benign manner, and the balance is fairly neutral.
It’s a quiet day for the Mii. I’ve got decorating to do and that means the only journey I make is to the tip, and that’s in my own car. The Mii’s tiny boot is not up to the task of hauling chunks of old wardrobe around, even with the rear bench folded flat.
I can almost sense the Mii sulking when I get home. If it could have found its keys I’m sure it would have been sat there, SEAT fob hanging out of its mouth, wagging its tail-pipe expectantly.
More decorating means the Mii doesn’t go far today either but a quick trip to the village shop is enough to highlight one of the advantages of a small car. You can park in spots that other drivers wouldn’t dare consider. The Mii has good all-round visibility so it’s easy to squeeze it into the smallest of spaces without having to resort to nudging bumpers. Which is handy, as some people tend to frown upon that kind of behaviour.
Oh, and here’s a top tip for Mii ownership. Keep a stick or ruler handy. Why? Because you will be forever cursing the rear parcel shelf that doesn’t lower itself. It’s only when you get back in the car and can’t see through the rear window that you remember the damn thing. It’s too much of a stretch from the driver’s seat so a short stick allows you to poke it back down without having to get out and open the boot.
Back to the daily commute. The Mii’s compact dimensions mean it’s great for squeezing through busy traffic. A trip into Nottingham city centre proves the point, with gaps opening up in front of the Mii that wouldn’t exist to other cars. The light clutch, gear change and steering also make it a breeze to drive.
I think the Mii may have a drink problem. No, not like a big fuel-guzzling V8, it just seems to really hate unleaded. It barely sips the stuff, almost as if it’s leaving a nasty taste in its cylinders. Offically the 1.0-litre engine should return 62mpg but I’m regularly seeing mid to high 60s on the trip computer.
Which is nice as that means it costs peanuts to run. There’s an added bonus in that what seems like a tiny tank (35 litres) actually works out into a range of over 450 miles.
It’s time to head off for Goodwood and that means a journey of nearly 200 miles, most of which is on the motorway. Normally this would be something to dread in a city car, with mile after mile of high-revving engine fighting with whistling wind and rumbling tyres to see which can give you the biggest headache. Not so in the Mii.
Admittedly it’s not going to trouble the German saloons and their blazing DRLs in lane three, but once you’ve wound the Mii up to 70mph it seems happy to trundle along. It’s not excessively noisy, the 3-pot settling into a subdued burble, and tyre and wind noise are nicely suppressed.
After four and a half hours I climb out and, to my surprise, my back hasn’t seized and my knees still work. It’s left me in better physical condition than some so-called mile-munchers, my own Focus being one.
Time to make the return leg home. The first hour through the Sussex countryside is delightful, with some great roads and the sound of 3 cylinders singing in harmony.
Then I hit the M25. Or rather, I join the queue on the M25. Mile after mile of crawling along in 1st and 2nd gear is depressing but at least it gives me time to poke around the Toca’s cabin and play with the Garmin sat-nav.
The detachable unit is good. It’s easy to use, supports postcode entry (unlike some considerably more expensive systems) and gives clear directions. You can also take it out of the car and it remembers where you parked. Great for people who can’t remember which street they parked in,.
It is, however, absolutely hopeless at offering alternative routes to avoid congestion. It frequently warned of trouble miles ahead and then offered no alternatives, or it would pick another route that sent me miles out of my way. The traffic updates are annoying too, with warnings coming through at ridiculously short intervals, but you can switch them off.
For a city car that costs 4 figures the quality of materials in the cabin is better than you’d expect. If you want leather-lined luxury then you’ll need to look elsewhere but the plastics on show are pretty good for a little car.
There aren’t many toys to play with, other than the Garmin, but I’m thankful that it comes with air-con as standard. The cooling breeze keeps my temperature low as the sun beats down on the crawling traffic. Judging by the short tempers of some of my fellow travellers, their air conditioning isn’t working very well.
The Mii and I eventually make it home, some seven-and-a-bit hours after leaving Goodwood. It’s safe to say the Mii coped with the journey far better than me.
Now it’s time for the Mii go to home. A quick check on the trip computer tells me it’s covered 623 miles through the week at a rate of 62.1mpg.
It really is a great little car. Fun to drive, cheap to run, and even though it’s designed for nipping about city streets it’s still perfectly capable of long journeys on the motorway.
Yes, it’s small, but that’s the point. It’s a car for people who don’t need lots of space. No, it’s not quick, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy every ounce of performance that it’s got to offer.
It’s a small car with a big character. That counts for a lot in my book.
SEAT Mii Toca Rating
|Cheap and cheerful fun||Too much body roll, not enough grip and would benefit from a bit more power||7/10|
SEAT Mii Toca Specs
|Performance & Economy|
|Engine||999cc 3-cylinder petrol|
|Transmission||5-speed manual, front-engined, front-wheel drive|
|Power (PS / bhp)||60 / 59|
|Torque (Nm / lb.ft)||95 / 70|
|0 - 62 mph (seconds)||14.4|
|Top Speed (mph)||99|
|Kerb Weight (kg)||929|
|CO2 Emissions (g/km)||105|
|Combined Economy (mpg)||62.8|