The Arona is SEAT's idea of a small sporty SUV and it's likely to find favour with the increasing number of buyers who would once have simply bought another supermini but now feel the need to get themselves something more interesting and lifestyle-orientated. It's good looking, safe, well connected and very personalisable. If this is the kind of car that appeals to you, then an Arona may well tick a lot of boxes.
As expected, the Arona shares the engine line-up used in SEAT's Ibiza supermini, which means that all of the powerplants on offer have direct injection and a turbo. There are three different petrol units to choose from, the headline emphasis being on the usual Volkswagen Group three-cylinder 95PS 1.0 TSI petrol unit, available in 95PS form with a five-speed manual gearbox or in 115PS guise with either a six-speed 'box or dual-clutch seven-speed DSG auto transmission. The third petrol choice is a 1.5-litre four-cylinder 150PS TSI unit with active cylinder deactivation technology, which is exclusive to the 'FR' trim and is connected to a six-speed manual gearbox.
Go for that sporty 'FR' trim and you get dual-mode suspension and the 'SEAT Drive Profile' that allows you to alter the steering, throttle response and suspension feel via four modes: 'Normal', 'Sport', 'Eco' and 'Individual'. As for diesel options, the efficient and reliable 1.6 TDI unit is available with 95 and 115PS. The 95PS version can be paired with a five-speed manual transmission or a seven-speed DSG auto, and the 115PS variant with a six-speed gearbox. All Arona models are front-driven: there's not much appetite in this segment for 4WD.
The Arona's sits on the same hi-tech MQB platform that underpins the latest Ibiza supermini and its styling follows the same structure as that used in the brand's slightly larger Ateca SUV. Here, that model's three-dimensional look is more pronounced, without being too aggressive. Like its rivals, this car is trying to give the feel of being a sturdy car for everyday life for the urban jungle, hence the strong protection in the bumpers, the wheel arches and the dark coloured rubber side skirts, as well as the roof rack and the aluminium look-like protection at the bottom of the bumpers.
In terms of its dimensions, the Arona is 4,138mm long, which is 79mm more than an Ibiza. However, the real difference lies in its height, as the Arona is 99mm taller. As a result, this SUV offers not only higher ground clearance for any off-road adventures, but also more front and rear headroom, and, above all, a larger boot, with a 400-litre capacity. Another important feature is the seat cushion, which is 52mm higher and gives a dual advantage. Firstly, a higher driving position for raised view of the road ahead. And secondly, it makes it much easier to get in and out of the car. The passenger seats are also 62mm higher than they would be in an Ibiza, while headroom is 37mm greater in the front and 33mm in the rear. The suspension height has been increased by 15mm and the windscreen is slightly more vertical for a roomier interior.
The Arona, says SEAT, is designed for 'drivers looking for a sense of excitement, distinction and functionality. People who know that age is just a number, not an outlook on life.' In other words, the people who've been busily buying Nissan Jukes and Renault Capturs in considerable numbers over the last five years. The Spanish maker wants in on this lucrative market and this little Crossover looks to have everything necessary to entitle them to a useful slice of sales in this segment.
The potential for personalisation will be key to this car's prospects, as will the efficiency made possible by its efficient engines and light, stiff MQB chassis. It's taken some time for the Iberian maker to bring us a Crossover of this kind but we can see quite a few target Arona customers feeling that the wait has been worthwhile.Click here to find out more about our SEAT Arona range