Seat has only recently started its SUV offensive, with only the Ateca currently on sale. With a larger model to come next year, the Ateca’s first sibling is now getting its opportunity to show the world what it’s got.
The Arona, which was revealed earlier this year, is going to be the smallest Seat SUV, and with similar looks to its big brother, it is taking on the ever-expanding and competitive compact crossover segment.
Based on the Volkswagen Group’s MQB A0 platform – which also forms the base for the Audi Q2, Skoda’s Karoq and Volkswagen’s T-Roc – the Arona is looking to carry on the success of the Ateca.
Built for the younger market with its stylish looks, the Arona does offer a lot of good equipment for a reasonably cheap outlay and with Seat well known for offering cars that drive well, its latest model looks to continue that trend.
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Seat offers a good amount of power options based on three engine units – two petrol and one diesel. The base 1.0-litre petrol is available in either 94bhp or 114bhp and they are more than capable of getting the Arona up to speed. Sending the power to the front wheels, the 1.0-litre can be paired with a five-speed or six-speed manual, with the option of an automatic with the 114bhp unit.
The 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol is only available with the FR trim and produces 148bhp. It offers the best performance of the line-up and also has cylinder deactivation that allows fuel to be saved when cruising. The 1.6-litre diesel comes with 94bhp and 114bhp option – with only the lower-powered variant available with an automatic option.
Ride and Handling
Seat likes to make its cars fun to drive and after successfully doing so with the Ateca, the Arona follows on in the same vein. With well-weighted steering and a lot of grip, the Arona holds on well through the corners. On more interesting roads it was able to handle every corner well whilst limiting body roll and remaining perfectly nice to drive.
It actually feels more imposing on the road than it looks, as the stability and composure it has is much more becoming of a larger car. It works well on the motorway, too, and feels very smooth to drive.
Interior and Equipment
Although it appears to be quite compact from the outside, Seat has utilised the MQB A0 base superbly and made as much space available inside as itcould. Even with a driver over six feet in height, you could get someone of a similar height behind them. With ample head and legroom for passengers, the Arona is surprisingly capacious.
The boot also offers a lot of room, with the 400-litre space able to extend to 823 litres with the rear seats folded down. That holds up well in the increasingly competitive compact crossover segment.
Equipment-wise Seat offers six trim levels – all of which come with a good range of accessories. With the base SE spec, models come with 17-inch alloys, LED daytime running lights, air conditioning and a five-inch touchscreen with Seat’s Media System. SE Tech mainly adds an eight-inch touchscreen, satellite navigation and Seat Full Link – which connects to your phone so you access Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
With the FR and FR Sport trims the Arona looks much more dynamic thanks to a sporty bodykit, tuned suspension, sports front seats and Drive Profile. The FR Sport version also gets 18-inch ‘Performance’ alloys and dynamic chassis control.
At the top the range, Seat provides the Xcellence and Xcellence Lux specifications, which offer a stylish finish with chrome detailing on the grille and roof rails. They don’t maintain the sporty body pack, but instead come with a host of technological extras, such as keyless entry, blind spot detection and rear cross traffic alert. The Lux version also includes alcantara upholstery, park assist and rear parking camera.
All models also come with a good set of safety systems, such as front assist, multi-collision braking, hill hold control and tiredness recognition. Cruise control, all-around airbags and Isofix points are also found.
Considering the amount of features the Arona gets as standard, the £16,555 starting price is very reasonable indeed. That puts it in the mid-range of the compact crossover market, but considering what you get it could be a smart option. Prices stretch to £24,640 for the top-spec Xcellence Lux, but it is likely that FR and SE Tech models will attract the most attention.
With almost every manufacturer under the sun offering up a new compact crossover – including Volkswagen, Kia and Hyundai in the last couple of months – it is good to see that Seat is joining the party with a very competitive car. With good driving and practicality it will be right up there with the best of the affordable compact models, and with an excellent amount of equipment, too. Expect to see plenty of these on the roads, as compact crossovers become increasingly popular.