When all is said and done, these three small cars are very similar. They’re all the same base model so it’s a question of which manufacturer added the best personal touches and made the car their own.
Based on these similarities your first question is probably why does it matter?
Well, the electric revolution is well and truly underway and for many of us it’s no longer a question of ‘will we buy electric’ more ‘when will we buy our first one’. Besides, each of these small cars is unique in its own right and it’s not a case of ‘buy one and buy them all.’
With that in mind, we’ve compared the different specs available, safety features, cost, the interior and, most importantly, how each of these small cars drives to give you the full picture. We’ll then give our honest opinion. Read to the end to find the best option for you.
So, let’s do this.
What do all these small cars have in common?
Volkswagen owns both Seat and Skoda, which explains why the Citygo-e and Mii Electric are sister cars to the e-UP!. They all share a 36.8 kWh motor which produces a healthy 82 bhp and a top speed of 81 mph. This is limited to increase range, but it will become clear later on why you don’t need any more.
They’re all designed for urban driving and a range of 161 miles (not necessarily a real-world figure), reflects this. This gives them a healthy advantage over their inner-city competitors and, with a 4 – 5 and half hour charging time using a 7 kW home charger, their practicality isn’t bad. Just remember that the Tesla Model 3 has a range of 250 miles in case you need to make regular long journeys.
Speaking of battery charge, each of these small cars should retain 70% of battery capacity for 8 years or 100,000 miles as part of their warranty. As all three are from reliable car brands, we don’t reckon you’ll need to use that warranty (but it’s still nice to have, right?)
That’s about all the similarities so, where to begin our showdown? How about the sensible option: how much do you have to pay?
Small Cars Showdown Round One: Cost
All are eligible for the Government’s plug-in grant, so up to £3,500 of the price is paid for you. Not sure what this handy little benefit is? Click here for a handy guide to help you.
They’re also all exempt from the dreaded congestion charge, which benefits the e-UP! the most because it’s the most expensive of the three. You could end up paying almost £4,000 more for the e-UP! compared to the cheapest Citigo-e, with the Mii Electric nicely in the middle.
Now, prices haven’t yet been confirmed but the Citigo-e’s SE model is likely to start at £16,995, the Mii Electric £19,300 and the e-UP! around £20,000.
The petrol Citigo has always been cheap but packed with quality, and there’s nothing to suggest the electric version is any different. Just bear in mind that the standard SE model doesn’t come with 7 KW charging as standard. A three-pin plug will take between 13 and 16 hours to charge the battery from 0% to 80% instead.
Round One goes to the Citigo-E.
Small Cars Showdown Round Two: Equipment
Fortunately, you do get more for your money from the e-Up!. It boasts a whole host of goodies including climate control, rear parking sensors and cruise control as standard. The Mii Electric also comes with cruise control but a solitary trim level doesn’t offer much wriggle room. You get air conditioning and heated seats but not a whole lot more.
Don’t go looking for optional extras either. The charging plug doesn’t even come as standard!
However, it’s still not as spartan as the Citigo-e SE.
Skoda doesn’t even paint the door handles.
Climate control is all well and good but it is very basic in the budget model. Upgrade to the SE L and you get the benefit of heated seats, ambient lighting and alloy wheels. Do you need them? No. Do you want them? Maybe. Is it enough to win this vote? Absolutely not.
Round Two goes to the e-Up!. Which you’d hope, considering how much more you have to pay for it all.
Small Cars Showdown Round Three: Safety
Structurally, these three cars are the same. They’ve all got 3 stars out of 5 from NCAP in their safety tests (which isn’t brilliant), as well as similar safety features.
Except for the e-Up!.
Once again, Volkswagen pulls ahead thanks to their automatic emergency braking system.
This handy piece of tech can sense if you’re about to have a crash and step on the brakes faster than you can react. It’s essential for safety and outdoes the Citigo-e which only has a lane assistance system.
The Mii Electric can go one better. It boasts traction control, a safety assist system and tyre pressure monitoring sensors as well as the lane assistance system, all as standard.
It’s the sheer range of safety trumps the e-Up’s! automatic emergency braking and brings the Mii Electric back into the contest.
Round three goes to the Mii Electric.
Small Cars Showdown Round Four: Interiors
You shouldn’t expect acres of space inside these small cars but they’re not pokey either. You can fit four passengers into all the cars fairly comfortably – but that doesn’t mean you always want to.
The Citigo-e is not designed to be driven at full capacity very often. There’s limited leg room in the back and doesn’t have the same pulling power with too many passengers. We think this one is best driven on your own.
While it does boast a snazzy interior design and great visibility from the driving position, it’s also showing its age by now. The interior is solid and comfortable but a lack of infotainment system sees it fall short of its rivals.
We were most disappointed with the interior of the Mii Electric. Yes, it’s comfortable and much more spacious than the Citigo-e, but does it look like an electric car? Not one bit.
It’s tired and uninspiring. At least Skoda added some funky trim on the dashboard.
No such problems in the e-UP!. Volkswagen has kept the same interior they use in the petrol version, just modernised it to look suave and electric friendly. It looks cool, modern but, most importantly, still like an Up!.
Round Four goes to the e-UP!. There was never any doubt.
Small Cars Showdown Round Five: Performance and How They Drive
This is the big one. Which of these small cars drives best and which should you be most excited to get behind the wheel of?
Well, it’s certainly not a three-way duel.
The Mii Electric is an overwhelming disappointment. It doesn’t handle city roads very well which isn’t a great start for an urban car. The extra weight from the batteries bogs it down, with heavier, more vague steering a byproduct. It just doesn’t feel nice to drive, especially on roads with speed bumps or potholes.
And then there were two.
Both the e-Up! and the Citigo-e deal with the extra battery weight much better. The e-Up! is beautifully balanced and handles like a dream. This creates a zip that makes it a fun small car to drive. The ride quality is spot on and it drives smoothly and predictably thanks to its energy recovery system.
You barely need to step on the brakes.
By using the most aggressive energy recovery system, you’ll extend your range considerably and only need to touch the brake pedal when coming to a complete stop.
The Citigo-e drives beautifully as well. It’s quick and nimble around town, the torque from the electric motor kicking in at just the right time to provide the boost you need away from the lights. The steering is light and the Citigo-E could turn on a sixpence – handy for navigating a narrow inner-city sprawl.
You might notice a few more bumps in the Citigo-e than the e-Up! but its regenerative braking still feels natural and is more effective than other models on the market.
You just can’t beat the feel of the e-Up! though. The fun factor sells it to us the most.
Round five goes to the e-Up!.
A Note of Caution
We’re going to make a really quick point before we wrap this up. All these small cars could work on the motorway – but it isn’t their natural territory.
You lose a lot of the zip when trying to overtake on the motorway and it considerably damages the range. You won’t get anywhere near 161 miles if you drive fast for any extended period of time.
So, they can all cope with 40-50 mph well enough but you might be better choosing a different option if you need to go faster than that on a regular basis. Maybe one of 2019’s most popular cars or an electric car with longer range such as the Porsche Taycan would suit your motorway cruising better?
Our Final Verdict
We compared these three small cars on five different areas and there was a clear winner. The e-Up! won three categories compared to one apiece for the Citigo-E and the Mii Electric.
On paper then, that’s the one you should buy.
But we’re not so sure.
First things first, the Seat disappointed us. It’s bland, uninspiring and can’t lay a finger on the other two. Considering the other options available, we wouldn’t recommend it.
Volkswagen’s quality shines through in every aspect of the e-Up! – but it should, considering they put all the best parts in their own cars.
The ride quality, spacious interior and high-spec equipment are only overshadowed by the price tag. If you’ve got a little extra budget to spend, then you certainly won’t be disappointed, but you can get more or less the same car by buying the Citigo-e and save £4,000 at the same time.
It’s a tough call, especially as we’ve considered more than just the price, but we recommend the Skoda Citigo-e. If you’re looking for a city runaround for just you and maybe one other person, it fits your needs perfectly. Yes, there are more practical rivals out there, but the Citigo has always been a solid urban choice.
We’ve always been fans of the Skoda Citigo and the electric revolution has created yet another brilliant model. If you’re looking to buy an electric small car this year, then this is the one for you.
If you do decide to buy either the Volkswagen, the Seat or another model we haven’t featured here, let us know why in the comments below!