Seat Arona

The Seat Arona is the latest release in the fast selling compact SUV sector, invented by the Nissan Juke, conquered by the Mazda CX-3 and popularised by the Renault Captur. Soon to be joined by the Volkswagen T-Roc, Hyundai Kona, Kia Stonic and new Ford Ecosport, not to mention the freshly released Citroen C3 Aircross and Vauxhall Crossland.

The Arona is based on the excellent Seat Ibiza, 15mm raised ride and 79mm longer, the taller cabin increases the interior space leading to more headroom and a better view for all and the 400 litre boot means the Arona has ample room for four adults and their luggage, something you would scarcely believe when you first clasp your eyes on the diminutive Seat. There is no getting away from the fact that this new bread of SUV are decidedly ‘compact’ certainly from the outside.

 

The Arona’s interior design closely follows that of the Ibiza, which is cleanly laid-out and high-quality, but lacking the flair you might hope for from a brand that aims to be more fun and stylish than other VW Group marques. Although technically the entry-level model, the SE is far from basic  17-inch alloy wheels and LED daytime running lights, while air-conditioning, all-round electric windows and leather touches grace the interior. Infotainment is taken care of by a five-inch colour touchscreen, which controls the DAB radio, aux-in and USB inputs, as well as Bluetooth connectivity. This screen is replaced by an eight-inch version on the SE Technology, supporting sat nav with 3D mapping, voice control and ‘SEAT Full Link’ (MirrorLink, Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto) This upgrade also brings you a wireless phone charger, SD memory card slots and rear parking sensors. Additional style is one incentive for Arona FR buyers – its ‘Dynamic’ alloy wheels, full LED headlamps, dark-tinted rear windows and twin exhaust pipes are reflected by a sporty flat-bottomed steering wheel, sculpted front seats and ambient interior lighting in a range of user-selectable colours. You can also play with SEAT’s ‘Drive Profile’, which enables you to adjust the car’s response through four modes (Normal, Sport, Eco and Individual), while the suspension is more firmly set up for greater cornering agility. FR Sport tops all this with 18-inch wheels, black Alcantara suede upholstery and dynamic chassis control, which goes a step further than drive profile by adjusting suspension firmness on demand. The Xcellence has a less sporty emphasis, but otherwise matches the FR specification and adds, keyless entry and go, as well as safety features such as blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. Xcellence Lux adds 18-inch alloy wheels, Alcantara upholstery, front parking sensors, a rear-view camera and parking assistance. It also features the the drive profile system.

 

Unlike some compact SUVs, the Arona doesn’t offer four-wheel drive, nor any kind of off-road traction-control system. If you’re looking for a family car that’ll take you off the beaten track, the Citroen C3 Aircross or Peugeot 2008 will suit you better thanks to their ‘Grip Control’ system, while a Jeep Renegade can have proper four-wheel drive and real off-road ability. Tarmac is the Arona’s home territory, and here it acquits itself well. The steering is light, which reduces effort but leads to a rather uninvolving feel, don’t expect the SEAT ‘drive profile’ system to convert the Arona into a snarling sports car – it only affects the extent of power-steering assistance and how quickly the throttle reacts.

The only engine avaialble presently (others will follow in 2018) is a three cylinder 1.0 litre petrol with either 94 or 113 brake horse power, the smaller output with a five speed manual gearbox and the larger as a six speed manual or DSG automatic.

The more powerful 1.0-litre engine in manual form is pleasingly responsive and has plenty of power to join fast-moving motorways in safety and overtake slower traffic with confidence. This version of the Arona does 0-62mph in just under 10 seconds and power is delivered seamlessly, with little of the lag you sometimes get with turbocharged engines, economy is an excellent 57.6 mpg as a manual for both outputs or 56.5 as an Auto.

Prices are excellent for a new launch car, starting at Nil advance payment and rising to £999 for the Xcellence lux auto.

 Autumn Best Buy – Seat Arona SE Tech 1.0 tsi (113bhp) petrol DSG Automatic or Manual– Nil Advance Payment (£59.41 wpms)

Full one hour review: