Arona is SEAT’s small SUV

21 January 2020

SEAT is ideally poised to cash-in on the soaring demand for small SUVs, which will soon account for half of all new vehicles.

The Spanish car company has three major players in the SUV game, comprising the small Arona, the mid-size Ateca and the large Terraco.

The Arona is the company’s first foray into the compact crossover class, which contains rivals such as the Nissan Juke and a host of others.

When the Arona first arrived here, sharing the same platform as the latest Ibiza range towards the end of 2017 it was priced from £16,555, which has now risen to £17,760.

To make the vehicle stand out from the rest in a crowded market there are half a dozen choices of trim and equipment, consisting of SE, FR, XCELLENCE, SE Technology, FR Sport and XCELLENCE Lux.

The SE grade includes metallic paint, 17-inch alloy wheels, bi-colour roof, black roof rails, chrome front grille, power-adjustable door mirrors, LED daytime running lights and tail lights, front cornering fog lights and automatic headlights.

You also get air conditioning, height-adjustable front seats, a split-folding rear seat, handy double boot floor, electric windows front and rear, chrome detailing and leather trim for the gear knob and handbrake.

Tech-wise there is SEAT’s Media System Colour with a five-inch touchscreen, six-speaker audio with DAB radio, Bluetooth and aux-in/USB connections.

Safety stuff includes Front Assist, Multi-Collision Braking, Hill Hold Control and Tiredness Recognition System plus cruise control, front, side and curtain air bags, active front head restraints and ISOFIX child seat mounts.

The SE Technology models upgrade with the Connectivity Pack Plus that includes a larger, eight-inch colour touchscreen and proximity sensor plus a navigation package with 3D map display and voice control. SEAT Full Link provides connection with compatible smartphones using MirrorLink, Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto. There’s also a wireless phone charger, an additional USB port, two SD card slots and rear parking sensors.

Among the petrol engines on offer are a one litre 95bhp unit mated to a five-speed manual gearbox, which is also available in 115bhp guise with a six-speed manual shifter or automatic DSG transmission.

Economy is 55mph with CO2 emissions of 111g/km.

My test model was the FR grade, with 17-inch Dynamic alloys, full LED headlights, chrome roof rails, dark-tinted rear windows, twin tailpipes and heated and folding door mirrors with casings that match the contrast roof colour. Inside, the FR boasts sports front seats and a flat-bottom steering wheel, multi-colour ambient lighting and FR-exclusive trim details. The suspension is sports-tuned for sharper handling, rear disc brakes are added, together with an alarm, rain-sensing wipers, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, coming/leaving home headlight functions and dual-zone climate control.

FR and FR Sport models use a 1.5-litre engine generating 150bhp and incorporating automatic cylinder de-activation.

This means that half of the engine automatically shuts down when it is not needed, such as when cruising.

Finally there is a diesel option in the shape of a 1.6-litre unit with a choice of 95bhp or 115bhp, with the former optionally available with DSG transmission.

There is no doubt that whichever combination of trim, engine and transmission you choose the Arona is a class act and worthy of serious consideration.

It is well built, generously equipped, nippy and economical, as stylish as a small SUV can reasonably be expected to look and comes with an enviable reliability and durability record.

The only problem is the intense competition, which includes the Skoda Kamiq, Renault Captur, Citroen C3 Aircoss, Peugeot 2008, Nissan Juke and Mazda CX-30 to name just a few.