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Let me de-mystify Miele's range of four "under-the-worktop" fridges, all of which are 'A' rated for energy efficiency:
K12022S: 60cm wide, with ice-box
K12020S: 60cm wide, larder fridge (i.e. no ice box)
K12012S: 55cm wide, with ice-box
K12010S: 55cm wide, larder fridge - the one I'm reviewing here.
At 85cm high these are all designed to fit directly under a standard-height kitchen worktop, making them ideal for the smaller kitchen. A larder fridge is probably best if you have a separate freezer, because no ice-box means quite a bit more fridge space.
We chose Miele because of their reputation for engineering excellence and longevity: part of the Miele philosophy is that they guarantee to supply spare parts for twenty years which means - with just a bit of luck - this £240 fridge could end up costing you as little as £12 a year in depreciation. Compare that to a slightly cheaper fridge with a four or five year design life, and the case for buying the Miele becomes very strong - economically and environmentally.
Let's start outside. Lean on the centre of the outer door skin of most fridges and they visibly bend and deflect a little, but not this one. Miele's wide-opening and sturdy door is hinged on the right (so the handle is on the left) but the straightforward user manual shows you how to swap the hinges over to the left if that suits your kitchen better. The squared-off handle is big and chunky, but rather inelegantly styled.
The inside of the door has three shelves: low down is a bottle shelf (good for milk cartons, wine bottles, and so on) and at the top is a handy lidded compartment that's perfect for butter and cheese. In between is a third shelf for smaller bottles and packets, or for the removable egg-holder that's supplied with the fridge. All of these shelves feel very strong compared to the fittings you get in most budget-priced fridges, and the centre one has two height settings.
Inside the fridge itself there is a large and bright interior light on the top right hand side. You get three full-depth glass shelves, each of which has two possible positions and this gives a good degree of versatility for the internal layout. At the bottom you'll find two vegetable/salad drawers which might arguably be a bit easier to manage that one large one, although they aren't big enough to take a whole cucumber or a large aubergine. On top of these drawers is a half-depth glass shelf.
In use the Miele 12010 is functional and generally sensibly designed. All of the interior fittings can be removed in one minute and the smoothly-styled surfaces wipe clean easily. That's not something that all fridges can boast, as many have annoying dirt-traps or roughly moulded linings that are hard to clean.
Miele seem to take real care to ensure that all their domestic appliances are quiet in use, and this fridge is no exception: it really is hard to tell when the compressor is running, because there are none of the clicking and humming noises that some other fridges suffer from.
Make no mistake, its styling is that of a boxy, timeless workhorse - a bit like a Mercedes Sprinter van, really. Fridges seem to be becoming fashion items nowadays, with coloured or stainless steel cases or other overt styling features, but if you'd rather forego these in favour of strong engineering and practical design, then the 12010 could be an intelligent choice: after all, it'll probably still be with you long after its prettier rivals have gone to landfill.
If only they'd rethink those salad drawers...
Exterior Color / Short name: Miele K12010S