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SEAT Arona proves best things come in little packages

Compact SEAT Arona crossover is roomy and also drives like a bigger car. Picture: SEAT

Compact SEAT Arona crossover is roomy and also drives like a bigger car. Picture: SEAT

SEAT

The SEAT Arona is one of many compact SUVs about to enter the market. Jack Evans finds out if it has what it takes to stand out from the pack.

SEAT Arona compact crossover is a handsome car, standing out in bright colours. Picture: SEAT SEAT Arona compact crossover is a handsome car, standing out in bright colours. Picture: SEAT

The SEAT Arona uses the new platform from the latest Ibiza, and offers that all-important high seating position, but in a compact crossover package for those who don’t fancy larger sport utility vehicles.

What’s new?

The exterior looks like the larger Ateca, while the interior will be recognisable to anyone who has driven a current-generation SEAT. Main switches operate solidly and, save for a few scratchier plastics, it’s a nice place to be.

Higher-spec SEAT Aronas get a leather-effect trim on the dashboard. Picture: SEAT Higher-spec SEAT Aronas get a leather-effect trim on the dashboard. Picture: SEAT

Under the bonnet

Engines are 95 and 115PS 1.0-litre turbo petrol, sending power to the front wheels via a five-speed, six-speed or dual-clutch automatic – the latter with the more powerful engine – 150PS 1.5-litre turbo petrol, only in FR spec cars, and 95 and 115PS 1.6-litre turbo diesels.

The smaller petrols are more than up to powering the little Arona along but if you’re planning more motorway miles we’d opt for the diesel.

SEAT Arona's 400-litre boot grows to 823 litres with rear seats folded. Picture: SEAT SEAT Arona's 400-litre boot grows to 823 litres with rear seats folded. Picture: SEAT

What’s it like to drive?

SEAT had a lot of success with the Ateca’s sporty handling and has cracked it again with the Arona.

The steering has a surprising amount of weight and, combined with the car’s low weight and eagerness to grip, makes the Arona fun to drive on twisty roads. There’s not much body roll yet it remains soft and supple over rough surfaces and feels far more composed and stable on motorways than you’d expect in a car of this size.

How does it look?

The Arona is a handsome car – FR trim cars benefit from a sportier look, while Xcellence models feature a glitzy chrome grille.

Inside, it’s quite spec-dependent. Lower models in the six trim line-up still get an impressive five-inch colour touchscreen, but there is a large slab of hard plastic on the dashboard in front of the passenger – it’s replaced by leather-effect material on higher-spec models which improves the cabin’s overall feel.

A huge number of customisation options includes nine body and three roof colour choices – brighter ones really help the car stand out.

What’s it like inside?

Given the compact chassis, it’s remarkably roomy, both front and back. Even with a 5ft 11in driver, there was more than enough room for a similarly-sized passenger behind.

The 400-litre boot grows to 823 litres by lowering the rear seats. The boot is square and, despite a high load lip, easy to access. A variety of storage options dotted through the cabin will please family buyers.

Final say

The compact SUV market is booming but the Arona is a serious offering – well styled, good to drive and competitively priced.

SPEC AND TECH

Price: SEAT Arona Xcellence 1.0 TSI £21,040 (range from £16,555)

Engine: 999cc, 115PS, three-cylinder turbo petrol

Performance: 0-62mph 9.8 seconds; top speed 113mph

MPG: 57.6 combined

CO2 emissions: 113g/km

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