Seat might not have been the quickest firm to introduce crossovers and SUVs to its range, but now has a trio of high-riding models for buyers to choose from, and the most compact choice is the Arona.
Introduced in 2017, the Arona shares underpinnings with the brand’s Ibiza supermini, but adds further practicality into the mix thanks to its increased size, as well as a more rugged look – both important things in this class.
It aims to deliver what Seat is good at anyway, bringing additional sportiness and style to this market. But with a greater number of rivals than ever – including the Ford Puma and Vauxhall’s new Mokka – does the Arona still have what it takes to rival the best in this class?
Though you could previously buy the Arona with a diesel engine, it’s now just available with a choice of turbocharged petrol engines.
A 1.0-litre TSI unit kicks off the range, which is available with outputs of 94bhp or 108bhp available. The former comes with a five-speed manual gearbox, while the more powerful option gets a six-speed manual, though a seven-speed automatic is available too.
At the top of the range is a turbocharged 1.5-litre unit, mated to a seven-speed automatic as standard. It’s the latest addition to the Arona range, and comfortably the quickest too – taking eight seconds to get from 0-60mph and reaching a top speed of 130mph.
Regardless of the version you go for, though, you should expect relatively low running costs. But it’s the 108bhp version that’s the most efficient – returning a claimed 53.3mpg, with CO2 emissions as low as 120g/km.
Ride and handling
Seat has always prided itself on sitting at the slightly sportier end of the spectrum, and that’s true with the Arona. Though not as sharp as the Ibiza hatchback it’s based on, it handles well and is more entertaining than plenty of rivals, perhaps with the exception of the Ford Puma. FR versions fitted with a sportier suspension setup are the pick of the range in this respect.
That said, the Arona is also a good all-rounder, with a comfortable and supple ride – especially on cars fitted with the smaller 17-inch alloy wheels – along with strong refinement, even at higher speeds. There also isn’t a weak engine in the range, though the 94bhp model perhaps isn’t best if most of your driving is at higher speeds due to only having five gears.
Interior and equipment
Though Seat is readying an updated Arona with an improved interior for the end of 2021, the current model is still an excellent choice. With all versions featuring a touchscreen (which varied in size, depending on trim) and digital dials available on higher-spec versions, it doesn’t feel behind the times, even when compared to newer rivals. The cabin is also well-built and intuitive to use, though perhaps lacks the style you get with the exterior of the Arona.
Perhaps the only weakness with the Arona is its spaciousness. While offering more room than the Ibiza, it’s not practical enough to rival the class best – the Renault Captur and Volkswagen T-Cross. That said, the 400-litre boot is a decent size, though rear seat space isn’t very generous for adults.
When it comes to trim levels, five are available – SE, SE Technology, FR, FR Sport, Xcellence and Xcellence Lux.
Standard kit on SE cars includes 17-inch alloy wheels, a leather steering wheel, contrast roof, cruise control and a 6.5-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth and smartphone mirroring. Upgrading to the SE Technology brings a larger eight-inch media system with satellite navigation, along with wireless smartphone charging and rear parking sensors.
FR models bring sportier looks thanks to their revised alloy wheels, full LED headlights and sportier bodykit, whole automatic lights and wipers and dual-zone climate control are also included. FR Sport then brings larger 18-inch wheels, along with heated front seats and a digital cockpit system.
Xcellence models meanwhile bring features like ambient interior lighting, keyless entry and adaptive cruise control, while a top-spec ‘Lux’ model features a leather dashboard, reversing camera and park assist.
The Arona remains right on the money next to rivals, with the range available from £19,215, though we’d recommend making the jump to the SE Technology trim, which costs from £20,110.
Sticking to the lower end of the spectrum is recommended, as prices do get quite steep for the top-spec models.
The Arona remains a seriously likeable small crossover, which brings style, a decent driving experience and good value to this class.
Though it might not rival the best for spaciousness or technology, it’s certainly still one of the better options in this class, and bodes well for the imminent arrival of the facelifted version.Enquire on a new Seat Arona