Seat was quite late to the SUV party with its Ateca in 2016, but it quickly established this Spanish brand as a force to be reckoned with – something Seat continued a year later with the introduction of its smaller Arona.
Bringing a slightly sportier driving experience than many in this class, the Arona also offered smart styling and good value for money. It was just starting to show its age in some places, though, so Seat has given it a mid-life update to keep it fresh.
Revised at the same time as the Ibiza supermini, which the Arona is based on, it gets small styling changes – including repositioned fog lights, new silver detailing to give it a more rugged look and additional colour and wheel options. There’s also a new touchscreen system that aims to offer more technology and slicker operation, but are these factors good enough to make the Arona rival the best in this class?
Seat hasn’t made any change to the line-up of engines on the Arona, with a range of petrol options, if no diesel or electrified models.
The line-up begins with a turbocharged 1.0-litre option, available with either 94bhp or 108bhp. The former uses a five-speed manual, with the more powerful engine – which is the car we’re testing – getting a seven-speed DSG automatic. It’s able to accelerate from 0-60mph in a respectable 10.6 seconds, and would reach 118mph when maxed out. In terms of efficiency, Seat claims 47.9mpg and CO2 emissions of 134g/km.
If you want something with a bit more performance, a 148bhp 1.5-litre petrol heads up the range. It’s not really much less efficient, but is noticeably quicker – going from 0-60mph in 8.2 seconds and hitting a top speed of 130mph.
Ride and handling
Seat aims to be the sportier mainstream brand in the Volkswagen Group, and that shines through with the Arona. By class standards it’s good fun to hustle along, with sharp steering making it easy to place through corners, while there’s very little body roll, either.
In fact, it feels very similar to the Ibiza to drive, which is quite the compliment, though this is partly down to the fact that it doesn’t really sit that much further off the ground, missing out on the lofty driving position that you get with some rivals.
The slight downside with this sportier stance, though, is that the Arona has a firmer ride than many in this class, feeling a bit unsettled around town, if proving more comfortable at higher speeds.
Most of the day-to-day changes on the Arona affect the interior, which gets a higher-quality cabin thanks to a restructured layout and smart coloured trim that runs end-to-end.
A larger 8.25-inch touchscreen is also included, with our test car benefitting from a larger 9.2-inch system. The graphics are much-improved, while the integration of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto without having to mess around with Bluetooth is a welcome improvement.
In terms of space, the Arona actually isn’t that much roomier than the Ibiza. While the Ibiza grows by 50 litres to 400 litres, rear seat room is very similar across the two cars.
All Arona models get plenty of equipment, such as 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, metallic paint and cruise control. The 8.25-inch media system with wireless smartphone mirroring and Bluetooth is also included. Upgrade to the SE Technology to get the larger 9.2-inch touchscreen, as well as a wireless smartphone charger and rear parking sensors.
If you want something a bit sportier to look at, the FR brings a more dynamic look, along with tinted rear windows, front sports seats and dual-zone climate control. FR Sport meanwhile brings 18-inch alloy wheels, digital dials, heated front seats and microsuede upholstery.
Building on the SE Technology, the Xperience trim brings ambient interior lighting, keyless entry and adaptive cruise control, while the flagship Xperience Lux is kitted out with park assist, digital dials and a reversing camera.
The Arona continues to be an attractive choice if you’re wanting to keep a close eye on costs, with models starting from £20,040. The best value for money is certainly found at the more affordable end of the spectrum, as prices rise to more than £25,000 for the flagship versions.
Considering Seat has made such mild tweaks to the Arona, it really shows just what a great product the Arona was beforehand. This crossover is still up there with the best, with the fun driving experience really helping to set it apart from many in this class.
Though there might be roomier models in this class, if that’s not top of the agenda, the Arona is a great choice.Enquire on a new Seat Arona