SEAT Arona FR 1.0 TSI 115 DSG review.
For – well priced, impressive quality, VW engineering.
Against – no 4×4 option, looks don’t quite work.
Rating *** out of 5
£20,975 (start at £16,555)
Competition – Nissan Juke, Renault Captur, Peugeot 2008, Citroen C3 Aircross, Vauxhall-Opel Mokka, Ford EcoSport, Mitsubishi ASX, Suzuki Vitara*, Fiat 500X, Dacia Duster, Ssangyong Tivoli, Toyota CH-R, MG ZS, Mazda CX-3, Honda HR-V, Hyundai Kona, Kia Stonic, Mini Countryperson
To Cambridge to drive SEAT’s new Arona and of course it’s an SUV, a small one this time.
It’s not SEAT’s fault that in this category, I’m going to take some convincing because I already own the Suzuki Vitara – to me the leading candidate in this sector, although I’m currently questioning its fuel efficiency as the acceptable average of about 35 mpg has slipped to under 32. A service this month will sort that out I’m sure, but I digress.
SEAT has tried hard to make the Arona look attractive, although the early artist’s impression of what it might look like are wildly off the mark. The finished design looks a bit overwrought, with something not quite right as the metal stretches down the sides towards the rear end.
The interior quality is impressive and the amount of content generous, even with the base model. Prices are competitive too, starting at £16,555, and that includes metallic paint and bi-colour roof.
There’s a choice of 6 engines, petrol and diesel, from 94 to 148 hp. There are 5 and 6 speed manual gearboxes. The car tested is a 3-cylinder, 113 hp petrol motor, with a DSG automatic gearbox. Engines of at 113 hp can be mated with the auto box.
Hard to understand
SEAT, a Barcelona, Spain-based Volkswagen subsidiary, said the Arona, named after a town in Tenerife, ushers in an innovative new approach to simplifying customer choice for easier car buying. This is hard to understand because the list of choices is long and baffling.
“Whether it’s online or in showroom, potential buyers will be heartened to see that the forward-thinking brand has introduced a stress-free range line-up. In short, to find their ideal model, customers simply choose from three elements: trim level, engine and colour. It’s that easy. There are no myriad options or packs to weigh up, enabling new owners to get behind the wheel of the exciting new crossover with the minimum of fuss,” said SEAT.
“The New Arona is being offered in six trims, each equipped with features today’s customers want and which will help the vehicle retain its value. The grades dovetail with other SEAT models, with SE, FR and XCELLENCE, but, with each level expanded into additional versions that add in more equipment: SE Technology, FR Sport and XCELLENCE Lux. And for those who want to reap the rewards of being some of the first Arona owners, the SE and XCELLENCE First Edition models come even better equipped for a limited period,” said SEAT.
The range starts at SE with much standard content including bi-colour roof, black roof rails, chrome front grille, LED daytime running lights and tail lights, front cornering fog lights and automatic headlights. Inside standard features include air conditioning, electric windows front and rear, a 5 inch touch-screen, six-speaker audio with FM/AM/DAB radio, Bluetooth and aux-in/USB connections.
SE Technology includes a navigation package, Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto. There’s also a wireless phone charger. Moving up to FR grade there’s more stuff including sports front seats and a flat-bottom steering wheel. Through FR Sport and XCELLENCE to XCELLENCE Lux and £22,095 gives you things like 18-inch wheels, front parking sensors, a rear-view camera and Park Assist.
Surprisingly, this SUV isn’t available with four-wheel drive.
What to buy?
SEAT is of course a wholly owned subsidiary of VW, so if you’re convinced by the price but wonder about the heritage, rest assured that it’s all German. The choice in this sector is dazzling, and the Suzuki is by far the strongest candidate in my opinion. My top of the range Vitara has a huge amount of content including radar cruise control (as does the Arona) and many electronic aids to safety (like the Arona). But it also has permanent four-wheel drive, and still costs just over £22,000. It also looks the business in my opinion. Looks are of course in the eye of the beholder. Every time I see a Nissan Juke for instance I wonder how anyone could think that looks good, but it has sold in huge numbers. As for the Mini range, did they eat all the pies?
(SEAT provided hotel, train tickets)
|Seat Arona FR Sport 1.0 TSI 115 DSG|
|Engine:||1.0 litre petrol|
|Power:||113 hp @ 5,000-5,000 rpm|
|Torque:||200 Nm @ 2,000-3,500|
|Gearbox:||automatic 7-speed DSG|
|Acceleration:||0-62 mph-9.8 seconds|
|Top Speed:||113 mph|
|Fuel Consumption:||claimed combined 56.5 mpg|
|Boot capacity:||400/1,280 litres|
|Competition:||Nissan Juke, Renault Captur, Peugeot 2008, Citroen C3 Aircross, Vauxhall-Opel Mokka, Ford EcoSport, Mitsubishi ASX, Suzuki Vitara*, Fiat 500X, Dacia Duster, Ssangyong Tivoli, Toyota CH-R, MG ZS, Mazda CX-3, Honda HR-V, Hyundai Kona, Kia Stonic, Mini Countryperson|
|Would I buy one?||No. I’m betrothed to the Vitara|
|For:||well priced, impressive quality, VW engineering|
|Against:||no 4x4 option, looks don’t quite work|