SEAT Arona Review
The SEAT Arona is a safe and roomy small SUV but it’s interior feels a bit cheap in places and high-spec models are quite expensive
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Small SUVs are like weekend minibreaks – there are loads to choose from and they all offer something a bit different. The SEAT Arona, for instance, is more exciting than a quiet countryside cottage but not as wild as a weekend spent raving in a disused warehouse with neon-clad strangers.
The way the SEAT Arona looks is pretty middle-of-the-road, too. Its angular headlights and two-tone paint place it somewhere between the practical, unassuming Skoda Kamiq and the bonkers-looking Nissan Juke on the SUV spectrum.
There isn’t a great deal to shout about inside the SEAT Arona, either. Its cabin comes with plenty of cheap-feeling plastics and you can’t spruce it up with any particularly colourful trims like in the VW T-Cross.
At least you get a fair bit of standard kit to take your mind off the Arona’s slightly drab interior design, including a decent 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system in all but entry-level cars with smartphone mirroring for Apple and Android phones.
The SEAT Arona does the less techy stuff well, too, so there’s decent headroom for tall driver’s to get comfy and enough seat adjustment to help you get a good view out if you’re rather small.
Sure, space in the back isn’t quite up there with the likes of the Skoda Karoq and VW T-Cross, but passengers get a better view and more space to stretch out than in the pretty cramped Nissan Juke and Toyota C-HR. Bootspace is on a par with the some of the roomiest small SUVs, too – besides the super-practical Ford Puma, that is.
Stick with the lower trims and the SEAT Arona is a well-equipped small SUV with a reasonable price tag. The higher-up versions aren’t worth the extra money though.
The SEAT Arona isn’t quite as good to drive as the fun-loving Ford, either, but it’ll put a bigger grin on your face on a twisty road than most small SUVs. Unfortunately, the Arona’s sporty suspension means it can’t iron out bumps around town as well as the likes of the Skoda Kamiq, Renault Captur or VW T-Cross – especially if you pick an FR model with bigger alloy wheels.
Thankfully, most of the Arona’s engines are perfectly happy to potter around town. There are plenty to choose from, including a range of peppy three-cylinder petrol units and a few four-cylinder diesel models that’ll be more economical on long motorway journeys.
You can also get a reasonably slick automatic gearbox instead of the standard manual (although this can be a bit jerky at slow speed) but, like most small SUVs, you can’t get the Arona with four-wheel drive.
Don’t let this put you off, however. The Arona is still worth a look if you’re after a small, well-equipped family SUV that’s a doddle to drive and sportier to drive than your average family car. It’s just a shame that its let down by plenty of cheap-feeling interior bits and bobs.
The SEAT Arona looks quite compact on the outside, but it comes with a surprisingly spacious cabin and a decent boot. Three adults will still be a bit cramped in the back, though
Fitting a child seat in the back of the SEAT Arona feels like performing keyhole surgery with hedge clippers – a delicate operation it ain’t…
The SEAT Arona is pretty roomy inside for a small SUV. There’s loads of headroom in the front so you can raise the driver’s seat up nice and high to get a good view out – even if you’re very tall. There’s plenty of adjustment for the steering wheel, too, so you’ll always have an unobstructed view of the dials.
All models come with height-adjustment for the front passenger seat, too, and you get some more supportive sports seats as standard in FR and FR Sport models to hold you securely in place in tight corners.
Space in the back is very nearly as generous as in the front. The SEAT Arona’s raised roofline means passengers over six-foot tall can stretch out and knee room is on a par with the Citroen C3 Aircross.
There’s more than enough room for three kids to sit side-by-side but three adults will feel slightly cramped. There’s quite a tall lump in the floor that’ll get in the way of your middle passenger’s feet, but at least the central seat isn’t too raised so they’ll have plenty of headroom. If you regularly carry three in the back, you’ll be better off with a Skoda Kamiq.
The rear doors are nice and tall so you’ll have no trouble lifting in a bulky child seat. Annoyingly, though, the standard Isofix anchor points are hidden deep within the seat padding which makes securing the seat base very tricky. Thankfully, the SEAT Arona’s raised ride height means you don’t have to stoop down to strap in a child.
The numerous handy storage bins dotted around the SEAT Arona’s cabin mean you won’t have trouble keeping it looking neat and tidy. The front door bins are big enough to hold a two-litre bottle and the glovebox is large enough to squirrel away another 1.5-litre bottle.
You get two cupholders in the centre console, too, and all but entry-level SE models come with a wireless charging tray for your phone under the dashboard. It’s deep enough to stop your phone falling into the footwell when you accelerate or brake hard.
Annoyingly, you only get a front armrest as standard in Xcellence and Xcellence Lux models, but these top-spec cars also come with a storage tray under the driver’s seat. It’s only big enough for holding a small phone or a wallet, however.
The SEAT Arona has 400 litres of boot space. That’s the same as you’ll find in a Skoda Kamiq but someway off the 455-litre loadbay you get in a VW T-Cross. Its wide opening and square shape make it dead easy to pack full of large items and there’s space to carry two large suitcases alongside an additional small case and a large soft bag.
You can adjust the height of the boot floor as standard in all SEAT Aronas, too, to eliminate the annoying boot lip and give you somewhere to store the parcel shelf if you need to remove it.
With the adjustable floor raised, you can fold the back seats to create a flat 1,280-litre load bay. It’s roomier than the likes of the Kia Stonic and Hyundai Kona and almost as spacious as the VW T-Cross’ boot, so there’s enough space to carry a bike with both its wheels attached.
All SEAT Arona’s come with some tether points to secure large luggage and a selection of small storage trays and elasticated straps to help stop your shopping rolling around in the boot.
The SEAT Arona’s a doddle to drive and there’s a decent range of engines to choose from but other small SUVs are more comfortable to travel in
You’ll feel a good few bumps through your seat around town – especially in sporty FR models with their firmer suspension – but, thankfully, the Arona’s fairly comfy at speed
You can get the SEAT Arona with two petrol and two diesel engines and with either a manual or automatic gearbox.
The 115hp 1.0-litre petrol engine is the one to go for if you do a mix of city and motorway journeys. It’s nippy enough to keep up with fast-moving traffic and doesn’t drone too loudly when you’re cruising along. SEAT claims it’ll return 57mpg, but you can expect to see a figure closer to 47mpg in real-world conditions.
There’s also a 95hp 1.0-litre model, but it’s only worth considering if you rarely venture out of town, but it feels more sluggish than the 115hp version and only comes with a five-speed gearbox instead of the more powerful model’s six-speed unit. As a result, it’s a bit noisier at speed and doesn’t feel quite as nippy.
If you do spend lots of time on the motorway, the 1.6-litre diesel engine is your best bet. It takes a while to get up to speed, but it’ll cruise fairly happily at 70mph and SEAT claims the 95hp model will return as much as 71mpg. Although, a figure closer to 60mpg is much more achievable in the real world.
You can get a dual-clutch automatic gearbox instead of the standard manual, but only in 115hp petrol and 95hp diesel models where it’ll set you back from £1,080. It helps take the sting out of stop-start traffic but it’s slightly jerky at slow speed, such as when you’re parking.
Unlike some small SUVs, you can’t get the SEAT Arona with four-wheel drive. Don’t let this put you off, however – it makes no difference to how the SEAT feels to drive and its raised ride height means you can confidently tackling rough tracks without scraping the underside of the car.
There’s also a more powerful 1.5-litre 150hp model if you fancy something a bit nippier. It’s pretty spritely for a small SUV and returns similar fuel economy to the 115hp cars, but it’s quite a bit more expensive to buy and only comes in FR and FR Sport models.
You sit higher in the SEAT Arona than in similar-sized family hatchbacks so you get a better view out over traffic ahead. As a result, it’s pretty easy to thread through tight city streets and the SEAT’s light controls mean your arms won’t get tired of twirling the wheel when you have to squeeze into a tight parking space.
While we’re on the subject, you get rear parking sensors in all but entry-level SE models and cruise control comes fitted as standard across the range. This helps make long journeys a bit more relaxing, but you still have to contend with quite a bit of wind noise coming from the SEAT Arona’s door mirrors at 70mph.
Besides this, however, the Arona’s pretty relaxing to drive. The more powerful petrol and diesel engines aren’t particularly noisy when you’re cruising along and the suspension does a reasonable job of ironing out bumps at speed – so long as you avoid the stiffer setup fitted to sporty FR models.
Around town, however, the SEAT Arona isn’t quite as comfortable as the likes of the Skoda Kamiq, VW T-Cross and Citroen C3 Aircross, but at least you can rest easy knowing that all models come with plenty of high-tech safety kit designed to prevent avoidable accidents.
Automatic emergency braking – that’ll apply the brakes if it senses an obstacle ahead – comes as standard across the range alongside driver tiredness detection that’ll warn you if it thinks you’ve fallen asleep.
The SEAT Arona is also more fun to drive than your average small SUV. Sure, it’s no hot-hatch, but 150hp models will put a decent-sized smile on your face on a twisty backroad. It certainly feels more agile than the likes of the Nissan Juke and Toyota C-HR, but can’t quite match the sporty feeling Ford Puma for smiles-per-mile.
The SEAT Arona’s cabin comes with an impressive amount of standard kit – especially in mid-range models – but alternatives look and feel nicer inside