Motoring Writer IAN LAMMING sparks a renewed interest in electric vehicles after driving Seat’s new Mii
THE paddle boarders drift by in perfect silence, their images mirrored in still waters, a picture of serenity.
The SEAT Mii keeps pace on the Lake District road that surrounds Esthwaite Water and strangely, for a car, does nothing to break the tranquillity. Not so much as a ripple, no combustive breach of the peace, no kerfuffling emissions from the exhaust – in fact no exhaust at all.
This Mii is the full electric and I can’t begin to tell you how hard I tried to avoid testing it – yep, to my shame, every excuse in the book was drawn from my chronicles of best excuses. But in the end I responded positively to the request to try one, dreading it every step of the way.
It’s like this you see; when you have a full electric in your care it is like going out for the day and forgetting to take your mobile phone. It leaves you with a sense of unease, anxiety, that you’ve forgotten your comfort blanket and won’t be able to cope.
Knowing you have no engine under the bonnet leaves you with a strange feeling, so accustomed as we are to, so dependent as we have become on the combustion engine. It is also a weird thought as I pass by that if this was my only form of transport then I would never have to visit that petrol station again, or any other. But what about all those two bars of chocolate for the price of one offers on the fuel station counters? Darn! Drive electric and I would be slimmer and healthier too.
Full electric requires a change of mindset, it really does. It needs a high degree of planning and distance checking and it puts an end to spontaneity. The level of charge in the car becomes an obsession, possessing the right charging card, or app, an issue of stress.
Until now I’ve only bothered with three EVs and with mixed emotions. To compound my doubting Thomas perceptions, this particular SEAT is the range’s tiny town car, the Mii, a veritable tin box on wheels.
But this is where I prepare to dine heartily on my own words and bigotry because the Mii is a little beauty and this is why.
In the past I’ve been used to charging the car to the max then watching anxiously as the distance to empty – or should that be flat – counts down alarmingly quickly.
But Mii has a ‘B’ setting. Stick it in that instead of ‘D’ for drive and every time you lift off the throttle the car recovers energy from somewhere and whops it straight into the battery. It is strangely compelling and at every opportunity – such as a downhill stretch or when I should be braking – I’m off the throttle and watching the distance to flat number rise instead of fall. It really is good.
I manage a trip from base in South Lakes to Seathwaite, to climb Great Gable, and I ‘m sure the readout is the same at journey’s end as when I start. It fluctuates a bit, dropping to 99 miles at one point, but by the time I’ve dropped down Dunmail Raise into Grasmere it’s back up to 134. You have no idea what a relief that is and it means you can relax and enjoy the view rather than obsess about the readout.
Mii is so quiet too, a tiny whine from the motor the only hint that you aren’t on a paddle board. The motor is also surprisingly powerful making the Mii very nippy indeed and gradients are tackled with aplomb and petrol powered brethren can be left in its accelerative wake.
Mii is boxy but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It maximises internal space cleverly, you simply don’t feel like you are in a city car, and its compact proportions make it a doddle to drive down narrow Cumbrian roads and park in tourist-filled car parks.
Having a wheel at each corner also makes it feel very safe and planted and quick responses leave you believing you are driving a go-kart.
So, for the first time ever, the Mii has allowed me the privilege of actually enjoying an electric vehicle. It is easy to live with and fun to drive and it’s also got me wondering about the pleasures of being on a paddle board. Still waters do run deep.
Engine: electric 61kWh
0-62mph: 12.3 secs
Top speed: 81mph
Combined MPG: N/A
CO2 g/km: zero