SEAT Arona Review
The SEAT Arona is a strong small SUV contender – just don’t expect a premium feel
- Very spacious
- Quiet and refined
- Lots of standard equipment
- Feels cheap inside
- Average-sized boot
- Slightly firm ride on big wheels
Should I buy a SEAT Arona?
The SEAT Arona diligently sticks to the small SUV recipe. Take a supermini – in this case the SEAT Ibiza – add a little extra ride height and some funky chunkiness, and voila, a money-spinner is born.
The Arona has been a success for SEAT, even though it has to fight against a huge number of rivals from the Ford Puma, Renault Captur and Nissan Juke to the Vauxhall Crossland, Skoda Kamiq and Hyundai Kona.
You might buy the Arona over the Kona if you like the SEAT’s sporty styling and want lots of space in a small footprint. Or, the fact that you can find two-year-old examples for around £200 per month on PCP finance might seal the deal. The Arona is certainly one of the best-value small SUVs around right now.
Interior and Technology
Bear in mind that you won’t be paying an awful lot for an Arona, and the interior looks pretty decent. The build quality is robust and the materials are hard-wearing, but there’s nothing that feels premium or soft to the touch. If you’re not a regular dashboard stroker, this might not be something that puts you off.
A facelift in 2021 improved the tech further, with digital dials now fitted as standard. The touchscreen moved to the top of the dash and boasts SEAT’s latest infotainment system, while the steering wheel was updated too.
The Arona’s boxy styling means there’s plenty of room inside. It’s great if you’re tall or if you’re a top hat enthusiast, as headroom is generous in both the front and back seats. With legroom and elbow room stacking up as well, the Arona has more rear-seat space than the Fiat 500X, Ford Puma and Kia Stonic. And, unlike in the Puma, you should be able to get in the back seats without smacking your head on the roof.
Its 400-litre boot is 45 litres more than you get in the Ibiza and 20 litres more than the SEAT Leon hatchback. You get a little more space in a Nissan Juke or Peugeot 2008, but you’d be hard pushed to notice the difference unless you compared them back-to-back. The space itself is nice and wide, and so is the boot opening – making it easy to load large items.
Engines and performance
In the Arona, there are two versions of a 1.0-litre petrol engine to pick from and, because they’re turbocharged, both are more than capable of getting up to speed quickly and staying there. We’d recommend the 110hp engine over the 95hp one as the more powerful version has a six-speed manual gearbox and unlocks the option of an automatic gearbox – all cars with the 95hp engine have a five-speed manual.
There’s also a 1.5-litre petrol engine mated to the automatic gearbox, which is reserved for FR and FR Sport grades. As you’d expect from a 150hp engine in a fairly small car, it makes the Arona feel reasonably quick – all without really increasing your fuel costs. The 1.0-litre engine is much more common, though. For a while SEAT also offered the Arona with a 1.6-litre diesel engine which offers excellent fuel economy but slightly leisurely performance.
Driving and comfort
We like the way the Arona drives. It feels like a bigger car than it is, with a sophistication and a level of refinement that you don’t get in many of its rivals. At motorway speeds, it’s quiet enough inside the cabin that you don’t have to raise your voice to speak to a passenger. The Arona is also pretty comfortable, so you don’t need to worry about using it for long-distance journeys.
While the Arona can’t deliver the driving fun that a Ford Puma can, it’s still one of the best-driving small SUVs. It handles really nicely and feels stable through fast corners, and manages to strike a good balance between a sporty ride and comfort.