The SEAT Arona is a well-rounded small SUV, with refined engines and generous standard equipment

The SEAT Arona is one of the leading offerings amongst the burgeoning array of small SUVs currently on the market. It offers a composed and refined drive – albeit one that’s short on pure thrills or involvement – and SEAT’s decision to pitch it above the Ibiza means that all versions get pretty generous levels of standard equipment.

It’s not the most practical car in the class, but is just about big enough to fit the brief as a small family car. At least it gives drivers the elevated driving position that makes small SUVs like this so appealing, while the engine range delivers a good mix of performance and economy.

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SEAT Arona 1.0 TSI 115 SE Technology

The SEAT Arona went on sale in 2017, and is the smallest SUV in the Spanish car maker's range. It slots in below the Ateca compact model and Tarraco seven-seater, and features the same sharp styling cues that are common across the SEAT range.

Under the skin, the Arona is based on the same running gear as the Ibiza supermini, and it offers a bit more space thanks to its more upright body. Its small dimensions mean it's a rival for cars such as the Citroen C3 Aircross, Hyundai Kona, Kia Stonic, Vauxhall Crossland X, Peugeot 2008, Renault Captur and Nissan Juke.

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Power comes from a 1.0 TSI petrol in 95PS and 115PS guises, a 1.6 TDI 95PS diesel. The lower powered 1.0 TSI 95PS has a five-speed manual gearbox as standard, while the 115PS can be had with a six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG twin-clutch gearbox. The 1.6 TDI has either a five-speed manual or a seven-speed DSG. All cars are front-wheel drive - there's no option of 4DRIVE four-wheel drive as found on the larger Ateca, and no special traction control system like you'll find on the C3 Aircross or 2008.

SEAT offers a range of trims that are on the sporty side to go with the company's dynamic image. It kicks off with SE, then SE Technology, SE Technology Lux, FR, FR Sport, Xcellence and Xcellence Lux. Most trims are offered with most engines - the only exceptions being that SE and SE Tech trims don't use the 115PS petrol with the manual box, while SE Technology Lux only features the 1.6 TDI diesel.

All cars are pretty well equipped, with roof rails, LED daytime running lights, cruise control, air con, Bluetooth and alloy wheels included even on the entry level SE model. We'd recommend upgrading to SE Technology as this includes the Connectivity Pack that adds sat-nav, full smartphone connectivity and wireless phone charging, too.

4
4/5
The Arona is hardly rewarding to drive, but it is comfortable, composed and refined
4.2
4.2/5
Lean three-cylinder petrol engine promises decent economy
4.2
4.2/5
Neat, sophisticated design with standard contrast roof and plenty of colour options
4
4/5
A fair amount of space, but few of the practical tricks required to make it a genuine alternative to a family hatchback
4
4/5
The SEAT Arona should be a dependable and safe family car, as it uses many tried and tested VW Group parts

SEAT Arona vs Citroen C3 Aircross vs Kia Stonic

There's plenty of personalisation on offer across the range, while FR cars get a sharper look and bigger wheels. Like most small SUV rivals, the Arona isn't the sportiest car to drive, but it's better than most, while the sprightly engines mean all cars feel responsive.

Overall, the Arona delivers more space than an Ibiza, and is better to drive than most of its rivals, while the looks are funky enough to stand out without compromising the car's practicality. That's why we gave it a Commendation in the small SUV class in our .

Last updated: 
29 Oct, 2018