SEAT's new compact crossover is Arona therapy!
PUBLISHED: 16:16 25 January 2018 | UPDATED: 16:16 25 January 2018
SEAT has grown its SUV family with the Arona compact crossover, smaller sibling to the Ateca, but also set to be a big player as motoring editor Andy Russell finds out at its launch.
Life can be tough for a little brother, or sister, having something to live up to, be compared to and, judging by my two boys, compete with.
SEAT’s new supermini-based Arona, its first compact SUV, was always going to be judged against its bigger sibling, the family hatch-based, highly-praised Ateca which has won a string of awards, even though they are completely different.
The latest arrival of SEAT’s largest product offensive, the little Arona is set to be a big player for SEAT in the compact crossover market, which has grown more than 30pc in the UK in two years, wooing new customers to the Spanish brand.
Looks and image
The Arona, named after a municipality on the island of Tenerife, picks up on Ateca design cues but it’s not just a case of shrinking a winning formula.
SEAT is known for sporty design flair and the Arona doesn’t disappoint with its sculpted styling, best in dark colours.
Colour customisation sees nine body colours and a choice of black, gray or orange roof.
Under the bonnet
All-turbo engines comprise 1.0-litre TSI and 1.5-litre TSI Evo petrol and 1.6-litre TDI diesel.
The five-speed manual 95PS 1.0 TSI and 1.6TDI go in SE and SE Technology, six-speed 115PS 1.0 TSI and 1.6 TDI in FR, FR Sport, Xcellence and Xcellence Lux with six-speed 150PS TSI, which cuts to two cylinders driven gently, for FR and FR Sport.
The 115PS TSI is offered as a seven-speed automatic across the range and a 95PS TDI diesel auto in Xcellence trims.
The best-seller is expected to be 115PS 1.0 TSI which pulls strongly from 2,000rpm, is pleasantly punchy and peppy and returned 45mpg on the test route even though I rarely used sixth gear which seemed unnecessary.
Petrol engines are muted, until worked hard, which makes tyre and wind noise at speed noticeable.
How it drives
SEATs have a sporty edge to their drive and Volkswagen Group’s all-new small car platform, shared with the latest Ibiza supermini, is a good start.
Longer and higher than the Ibiza, the Arona is still agile – changing direction quickly with body lean in check – so entertaining to drive.
FR models get firmer sports, rather than comfort, suspension so the ride is more sensitive, especially with FR Sport’s bigger 18in alloy wheels.
They also get Drive Profile with normal, sport, eco and individual settings for steering and throttle while FR Sport adds adaptive dampers which, in the softer setting, improve comfort. If you’re after smooth, rather than sporty, a model with 17in alloys and comfort suspension might be best.
Space and comfort
This compact crossover is anything but inside with legroom for six-foot passengers in the back, without those up front giving up space, but three adults in the back is cosy.
There are no fancy sliding seats to boost boot space but who needs them with a boxy 400-litre load bay. A removable raised floor panel sits flush with the 60/40 split rear seat backs when folded, for a maximum 1,280-litre load bay.
At the wheel
The Ibiza-like fascia is user-friendly with large instruments and an eight-inch colour touchscreen on all but SE which gets a five-inch one.
No problems getting comfortable with height and reach adjustable steering wheel and both front seats can be raised.
Unlike the bigger Ateca, the top of the Arona’s dashboard is hard plastic but high-spec models have a leather-effect trim panel.
SEAT’s Arona looks set to storm into the compact crossover market, just as the bigger Ateca did in the class above.
With record UK sales last year, up 18pc in a market down 5.7pc, SEAT can do no wrong.
SPEC AND TECH
Price: SEAT Arona 1.0 TSI FR Sport £20,665 (range £16,555 to 24,235)
Engine: 999cc, 115PS, three-cylinder turbo petrol with six-speed manual gearbox
Performance: 0-62mph 9.8 seconds; top speed 113mph
MPG: Urban 47.1; extra urban 64.2; combined 56.5
CO2 emissions: 114g/km
Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 21pc
Insurance group: 12E (out of 50)
Warranty: Three years or 60,000 miles
Will it fit in the garage? L 4,138mm; W (including door mirrors) 1,942mm; H 1,543mm