SEAT's first ever small SUV has arrived
Pros: Customisation options, characterful petrol engines, fun drive
Cons: Small boot, bland interior in base spec
The small SUV class is one of the fastest growing segments at the moment, and the SEAT Arona is the latest in a long line of new models to enter the space for 2018. The Arona is SEAT's first ever foray into the small SUV class, and it goes head-to-head with established competition such as the Renault Captur, Kia Stonic, Hyundai Kona and Nissan Juke. The Arona is based on the same platform as SEAT’s best-selling Ibiza supermini, but it has added road presence, a taller stance and more practicality, so it should prove popular with Irish buyers. We spent a week with the Arona recently to see how it compares with its rivals, and if it can prove successful in the hotly-contested small SUV space.
What is it like?
The Arona is based on the same platform as the SEAT Ibiza supermini, but it has much more presence from the outside thanks to a taller ride height, added body trim and black roof rails. There is also an X emblem on the pillar behind the rear windows which suggests it is an off-roader, though the Arona isn’t a true off-roader. In standard specification the Arona has steel wheels, but higher specification SE and XCELLENCE models boast 16-inch alloy wheels and other exterior upgrades. Fans of customisation will be pleased that there are 10 different colour schemes available, along withthree contrasting roof colours. The Mystic Magenta scheme of our test car certainly stands out on the road.
The Arona is surprisingly spacious inside with enough head and leg room for four adults to get comfortable, although space in the middlemost seat is confined. There is 400 litres of boot space in the rear and an adjustable floor for loading large items such as flat pack furniture. The Arona offers a commanding view of the road from the driver’s seat thanks to the extra ride height and tit is easy to get comfortable in the driver's seat, but we would have expected a better range of steering wheel adjustment. An eight-inch touch screen infotainment system with integrated Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is included on higher sepcification models, and it is incredibly intuitive and a must-haveaccessory.
The Arona is available with a 1.0-litre TSI petrol engine in two states of tune (95hp or 115hp), along with a 1.5-litre TSI petrol engine or a 1.6-litre TDI diesel. We drove the 115hp 1.0-litre TSI petrol, and it is livelier than you would expect with a light six-speed manual gearbox and plenty of three-cylinder oomph. The 1.0-litre TSI can sprint from 0-100km/h in under ten seconds and it cruises comfortably at higher speeds too. Annual motor tax is listed at €200 and we averaged circa 6.5l/100km in fuel economy during our test, so it is rather frugal to run too. A seven-speed automatic DSG transmission is also available with the 1.0-litre TSI at an extra cost.
Out on the road, the Arona impresses with confident handling and a suspension setup that is well-suited to Irish roads. It corners with enthusiasm; the steering is light and body roll is less than we expected too. The Arona isn’t quite as fun to drive as smaller superminis such as the Ford Fiesta or SEAT Ibiza however, and the large alloy wheels on higher specification models add cabin noise at higher speeds. Most buyers won’t mind this however, as the Arona performs well for day-to-day driving needs.
Prices for the new SEAT Arona start from €17,995 for the base specification S model, which includes the double floor in the boot, black roof rails, front assist, automatic lights, a multifunction steering wheel and a five-inch touchscreen radio system. The SE model adds the superb eight-inch touchscreen media system, a leather steering wheel, SEAT’s Full Link system, 16-inch alloy wheels, ambient interior lighting and rear LED lights. The XCELLENCE model that we drove adds a contrasting roof colour as standard, keyless entry and start, an upgraded storage pack and interior bi-colour ambient lighting, cruise control, park assist, a reversing camera and alcantara upholstery. The FR model is the sportiest option in the range and gains chrome roof rails, SEAT’s Drive Profile system and large 17-inch alloy wheels.
Carzone verdict: 4/5
The SEAT Arona is an accomplished small SUV package, with a great range of petrol engines, class-leading infotainment and strong levels of standard equipment. It’s surprisingly spacious inside too, with enough room for family buyers and personalisation options to stand out from the crowd. The Arona isn’t quite as practical as certain other cars in the class however, and the interior is somewhat bland in base specification. For this reason, we’d shortlist either the SE or XCELLENCE models, and forgo the 95hp 1.0-litre TSI petrol engine in favour of the characterful 115hp 1.0-litre TSI. Definitely one to shortlist.
Test Car Details:
Model driven: SEAT Arona 1.0TSI 115HP XC
Prices from: €17,995
Price as tested: €27,424
Annual Road Tax: €200
Engine: 999cc three-cylinder turbocharged petrol
Top Speed: 182km/h
0-100km/h: 9.8 seconds
Transmission: Six speed manual
Body style: SUV
Boot Space: 400 litres