SEAT Arona Review
The SEAT Arona is a safe and roomy small SUV, even if its higher trims look dear and the interior has some cheap-feeling materials.
This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
- Spacious interior
- Excellent safety features
- Fuel-efficient diesel engines
What's not so good
- Higher trims are quite expensive
- Rear is cramped for three people
- Nasty-feeling interior
SEAT Arona: what would you like to read next?
If you’re in the market for a small, cheap SUV, then there is a boatload to choose from nowadays. However, the SEAT Arona is both better-equipped and more economical than many of its peers – such as the Nissan Juke – even if some of the interior feels as cheap as a plastic cup.
Inside you’ll find a lot of cheap- and nasty-feeling plastics, mostly on the doors and dashboard. On the other hand, the Arona’s infotainment system is decent across the board. The entry-level SE version of the Arona gives you a 6.5-inch touchscreen with DAB, USB, Bluetooth, Android Auto/Apple CarPlay and aux compatibility. For the price, this is an impressive system, but it’s worth upgrading to the subsequent SE Technology level, which has built-in satnav and a more easy-to-use 8-inch touchscreen.
While the infotainment is solid, it’s with the safety kit that the Arona really shines. Every version of the car has nifty features like hill-start assist – which holds it in place until you press the gas pedal – and a Tiredness Recognition System. This monitors your driving to check for any erratic movements and, if so, warns you to take a break.
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.
Both the cabin and boot of the Arona are reasonably spacious. The driver and front passenger will have no complaints regarding space and comfort, while a pair of six-foot-tall adults could fit in the back. A third adult, however, would be a squeeze. Meanwhile, the Arona’s storage space is 400 litres – that’s about one overnight bag more than you can fit in the Kia Stonic or Hyundai Kona.
As for your engine choices, the best all-rounder is the 1.0 TSI 115. This 1.0-litre, 115hp petrol is decently priced and feels energetic in most situations, while, depending on the trim, it’s available with either a manual or automatic gearbox. If you want to sacrifice performance in return for better economy on the motorway, then it may be worth looking into the 1.6-litre diesel instead.
Driving the Arona feels smooth and comfortable, especially when compared with the Stonic and Kona. Its suspension absorbs a good amount of bumps and potholes and the smallest 17-inch wheels are the best on offer – yet another reason to go for the SE Technology trim.
Overall, the SEAT Arona is safe, comfortable and spacious. The lower trims are well-equipped for a very fair price, even though you’ll find some cheap-feeling materials inside.
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The SEAT Arona’s cabin comes with an impressive amount of standard kit – especially in mid-range models – but it looks and feels a bit cheaper than most alternatives
The SEAT Arona looks quite compact on the outside, but it comes with a surprisingly spacious cabin and a big 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 impressively 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 roomy Renault Captur and 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.
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.
Plenty of handy storage bins dotted around the cabin mean you won’t have trouble keeping your SEAT 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 a few phones and 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 isn’t just good at carrying passengers, the 400-litre boot makes it great for carrying bulky luggage, too. The load bay is around 45 litres larger than the boots you’ll find in a Kia Stonic and Renault Captur and its wide opening and square shape makes it dead easy to pack full of large items.
Two large suitcases will easily fit 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 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, unlike other small SUVs, you can’t get it with four-wheel drive
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’ll happily cruise along 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.
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 some other small SUVs, 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. These features helped the Arona score an impressive five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP when it was tested in 2017.