- Striking exterior design
- Each trim level is loaded with equipment
- Plenty of technology onboard
- Manual transmission isn’t very smooth
- Lacks storage space up front
Seat went a bit quiet for a while with no new models launching and just updates on their current range, but 2016 saw them back in some style with the Ateca hitting the roads and a record breaking year in 2017, with sales up 18% over 2016.
2018 has only just started and they’ve now launched a compact crossover the Arona, into a segment that has grown by 30% over the past couple of years.
So with recent rivals like the Citroen C3 Aircross and the Kia Stonic on forecourts, how much of a threat will the Seat Arona be?
We took it on a tour of the Cambridgeshire Fens to find out on the UK launch.
On The Road
We drove the FR Sport 1.0 TSI petrol engine at launch which produces 115PS with 200Nm of torque, has a top speed of 113mph and gets from 0-62mph in 9.8 seconds. It’s quite a sprightly engine and it’s what Seat reckon will be the most popular choice, but the only disappointment was that the 6-speed manual gearbox wasn't very seamless on shifting. Our last test of a Seat model was the Ibiza and the manual ‘box was short-shifting and super smooth, so it was surprising that it was this that let our test car down.
In terms of economy, Seat reckon it will achieve a combined 57.6mpg and emitting just 113g/km of CO2 it will cost £160 for the first year and £140 annually thereafter.
There is a 1.0 TSI available with 95PS, a 1.5 TSI EVO with 150PS and diesel options include a 1.6 TDI with either 95PS or 115PS, so there’s quite a choice of engines available for the Arona.
It’s smaller than the Ateca and like the Ibiza is based on A0 MQB platform which makes it a cracking drive, the ride is comfortable and makes light work of any pothole strewn roads and it’s a really agile model.
The steering and handling is pretty accurate and although we drove it on a mix of motorway and flat B roads, it felt at home on both which is a good thing.
There is a driving modes button should you want to personalise your driving experience and adjust the steering and throttle response and achieve better fuel economy figures.
The FR trim we drove is likely to be the most popular according to Seat and we can see why, it comes with really comfortable alcantara and leather sports seats, there is red stitching throughout which adds that sporty look and an ‘FR’ badge on the steering wheel.
In terms of exterior design it is incredibly striking, yet understated compared to the quirky Citroen C3 Aircross. They nailed it with the latest generation of Ibiza and if this is their design direction going forward then expect more stunning models from Seat.
It’s possible to customise the Arona with a choice of nine paint colours and three roof colours to really make it stand out and these are all available as standard across the line up.
In The Car
Behind the Wheel
There are six trim levels available on the Arona, Seat simplifying the buying process by packing each trim level with plenty of equipment so that no options are available.
We drove the FR Sport trim which features a neat, 8-inch colour touchscreen that displays all radio, media, phone, navigation, car and voice control settings.
Smartphone connectivity is through their Full Link system so Android Auto, MirrorLink and Apple CarPlay are available on the Arona with two USB ports and a wireless charger to keep phones full of power. Seat have become the first brand in Europe to feature the interactive voice service, Amazon Alexa and this will become available on their models.
With entry level SE trim including features such as metallic paint, LED daytime running lights, a bi-colour roof, a 5-inch colour touchscreen, air conditioning and a height adjustable driver’s seat, across the range there is plenty of equipment such as Keyless entry, a rear view camera, dynamic chassis control, Climatronic and rear parking sensors to choose from depending on trim level.
Space & Practicality
A lot of the compact crossovers around at the moment are pretty spacious and the Arona is no different. It is 4138mm long and has a boot space of 400 litres which just falls short of the Citoren C3 Aircross but is larger than the Kia Stonic. This can be increased to 1,280 litres with the rear seats folded down, so it’s hugely practical for a compact car and this segment is starting to become popular with families as they can avoid buying large SUVs because they think they have to for the much needed space.
There is no armrest storage between the front seats, just two small drinks holders and with a wireless charger under the centre stack it lacks storage space upfront.
The Seat Arona starts at £16,555 for the 1.0 TSI 95PS SE rising to £24,235 for the 1.6 TDI 115PS Xcellence Lux model.
In such a competitive segment pricing is key to attract buyers and although it’s just slightly more expensive than the Kia Stonic, it is over £5,000 cheaper than the Mini Countryman and it’s the equipment on the different trim levels that will be attractive to potential owners.
It has best in class residual values with it retaining 41% of its value over three years/60,000 miles.
With six new models coming up between 2018-2020 for Seat, including an electric vehicle and a large SUV, the manufacturer is definitely one to watch. The Arona is a versatile, capable and well-equipped compact crossover and we expect it to be a real contender.
Quality & Reliability
Skoda seem to be the most reliable manufacturer in the Volkswagen Group, but Seat are improving and rated 6th in the Auto Express Driver Survey. As a new model we can’t tell how reliable it will be, but the Ateca hasn't had any issues to date.
Like the latest Ibiza the Arona is a well built car, black gloss plastics adorn the sleek interior, seats are well made and extremely supportive and plastics feel long-lasting in a durable model.
Safety & Security
Seat scored the maximum five stars for the Arona in the EuroNCAP safety tests with 90% for adult occupant protection and 77% for pedestrians.
Even the entry level SE isn’t spared of any safety and security equipment and features a driver pack which includes cruise control, hill hold assist and tiredness recognition, airbags, anti-lock brake system, a tyre pressure monitor, Isofix points and remote central locking.
Xcellence trim features blind spot detection, rear cross traffic alert, adaptive cruise control and a rain sensor, while Xcellence Lux adds front parking sensors, a rear view camera and park assist.