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SEAT Arona engines, driving and performance

How does the SEAT Arona drive?

In short, the Arona drives like a SEAT. Now, we appreciate that statement on its own doesn’t give much detail on how the car drives, but it does show that the compact Arona drives like a much bigger and more expensive car. The manual gearshift is slick and precise, just like in the SEAT Ibiza and Leon, and the Arona feels confident at high speeds.

Refinement at motorway speeds is noticeable for the right reasons – you don’t have to raise your voice to keep up a conversation at 70mph.

At lower speeds, and in tight corners, the Arona feels agile and nippy. Just like the Ibiza and Leon do – although the Arona’s higher ride height fractionally increases body roll. Unless you were really paying attention, you probably wouldn't notice much of a difference and, compared to other small SUVs, it feels more controlled. It doesn’t captivate enthusiastic drivers in the same way that a Ford Puma does, but it’s one of the better-driving small SUVs if that’s important to you.

Is the SEAT Arona comfortable?

The SEAT Arona has quite a sporty setup, which helps its handling and poise. This can lead to a jolting, bumpy ride in some cars, but the Arona manages to tread the fine line between comfort and sportiness. You’ll notice the imperfect roads that we’re accustomed to in Britain, but you won’t be shaken around the cabin unless the surface is really bad. The Arona’s higher ride height than the Ibiza probably helps to filter out some of the bumps.

What’s the best engine to get?

In the Ibiza and the mechanically identical Volkswagen Polo, you get an entry-level 1.0-litre engine without a turbocharger – and without much performance. The Arona doesn’t get this engine – its lowliest 95hp 1.0-litre turbo petrol is the mid-range engine on the Ibiza.

This engine is able to get the Arona up to speed without much fuss, and it’s comfortable at motorway speeds. But, if you are travelling long distances, we’d recommend the 110hp petrol. Not only does it have a bit more poke, but it adds an extra gear to the gearbox. That brings two benefits. Slightly better fuel economy – 53mpg for the 110hp engine versus 51mpg for the 95hp engine – and better motorway refinement as the engine isn’t working so hard. The 110hp engine also comes with an optional automatic gearbox, so it’s the one to pick if you’re always stuck in traffic.

Above that is a more powerful 1.5-litre petrol engine, exclusively available with the automatic gearbox. Thanks to clever cylinder deactivation technology, this engine almost matches the 1.0-litre units for fuel efficiency. Drive carefully and you’ll get close to 50mpg.

With the petrol engines being so economical, it’s no surprise that the Arona no longer comes with a diesel engine. If you must have one, there’s a 1.6-litre engine with either 95 or 115hp that’s capable of between 55 and 60mpg, but it’s comparatively rare, a bit grumbly and not very fast.

SEAT Arona performance

Neither of the 1.0-litre petrol engines feel particularly fast, but they’re quick enough to keep up with traffic. Zero-to-62mph takes 11.5 seconds for the 95hp engine and 10.6 seconds for the 110hp one. The 150hp 1.5-litre engine – only offered on FR and FR Sport trims – cuts this considerably to 8.4 seconds, which is enough to make the Arona feel quite nippy.

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