Road test: Seat Arona
The Arona is one of the very best small crossovers; the ride is engaging and there’s plenty of space inside.
What is it?
The Seat Arona is a baby brother to the well received and popular Ateca. Size-wise, it’s a rival for the likes of the Mazda CX-3, Nissan Juke and Peugeot 2008.
How green is it?
There’s no hybrid version, but the high-tech 1.5-litre petrol can shut off two out of four cylinders to save fuel. The most efficient diesel achieves 70.6mpg on the combined cycle.
Who should buy one?
The Arona will suit young families, or anyone who appreciates sporty looks, a lively drive and good value for money. It’s one of the best cars of its kind.
Road test by David Motton, February 2018
DRIVING AND PERFORMANCE
Seat is positioned as the sportiest mainstream brand in the VW Group. That can be a double-edged sword, with ride comfort suffering in the quest for entertaining handling. With the Arona, though, Seat has the balance spot on. Clout a pothole at speed and you’ll certainly know all about it, but the standard suspension set-up is yielding enough to handle a typical British road without making the driver grimace. The steering is light but direct, and body lean isn’t excessive. It’s up with the Mazda CX-3 as a crossover for keen drivers, and is far more engaging than a Nissan Juke or Peugeot 2008.
Engine-wise, the 1.0 TSI 115PS (113bhp) is expected to be the best seller. You couldn’t call this model quick (Seat claims a 0-62mph time of 9.8 seconds), but the engine’s effervescent character goes a long way to making up for its modest punch.
For regular long journeys, though, it’s worth considering the excellent 1.5 TSI 150PS (148bhp). It’s only a little thirstier than the 1.0-litre, partly because it can run on two cylinders when the engine is under light loads. But it pulls more strongly when overtaking, and has more in reserve at motorway speeds.
We also tried the less powerful of the two 1.6-litre diesel models. With just 95PS (94bhp) you might expect it pedestrian performance, but there’s plenty of mid-range pulling power. It sounds a bit grumbly compared with the smooth petrols.Whichever engine is chosen, though, there’s quite a bit of road noise at speed.
Most versions have a manual gearbox, but an automatic is available with the 1.0 TSI 115PS and will be an option with the 95PS diesel later in the year.
SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
Although it’s not a lot longer than a supermini, the Arona packs in plenty of space inside. There’s lots of room up front, and the driving position boasts a good range of adjustment. However, it’s a shame the dashboard plastics are hard and unappealing.
In the back, there’s more space than you’ll find in many rivals with enough head and legroom for a tall adult to travel behind another without feeling cramped. However, we’d like to see air vents between the seats or in the door pillars.
With the back seats upright the boot has a 400-litre capacity. That beats the Nissan Juke but not the Renault Captur. A height-adjustable floor is standard on all versions. Set to its higher level it sits flush with the boot opening.
The Arona has picked up a five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP, with an excellent score of 95 percent for adult occupant protection. Child occupant protection receives a rating of 80 percent, while the pedestrian protection score is 77 percent. All models have autonomous emergency braking and tyre pressure monitoring, along with driver, passenger, side, and curtain airbags. Xcellence and Xcellence Lux cars have blind spot detection and rear cross traffic alert.
The SE comes with 17-inch alloys, metallic paint, air-con and a five-inch colour touchscreen. SE Technology features an uprated eight-inch touchscreen with satnav, smartphone linking and parking sensors. FR and FR Sport have sportier looks and a smattering of extra kit, including different modes for the chassis if you opt for FR Sport. Xcellence and Xcellence Lux add more technology and driver assistance features.
The range starts from £16,555 – not bad price when you consider equipment and predicted strong resale values. Economy is good in petrol and diesel models. However, it’s a shame the excellent 1.5 petrol is only available in costly FR and FR Sport spec.
WE SAY The Arona is one of the very best small crossovers; the ride is engaging and there’s plenty of space inside.
AT A GLANCE:
Performance: 0-62 in 9.8 secs
Economy: 57.6 mpg
Our verdict: 4
Figures for the 1.0 TSI 115PS FR