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First drive: Seat Arona

Date: 17 December 2021   |   Author: Martyn Collins

Interior updates keep the Arona in touch with the latest compact SUV crowd.
Standard equipment: Alloy wheels, ECO LED automatic headlights and LED daytime running lights, front and rear fog lights, halogen tail lights, electrically adjustable door mirrors, body-coloured bumpers, door handles and mirror caps, Bluetooth audio streaming and hands-free system, Full Link smartphone integration, 8.25in touchscreen display, DAB/AM/FM radio, Seat Connect, dimmable interior rear-view mirror, front reading lights, height-adjustable front seats with split and folding rear seats, autonomous emergency braking, cruise control with speed limiter and lane assist.
Engines:
Petrol: 95hp 1.0, 110hp 1.0, 150hp 1.5
Equipment grades:
SE, SE Technology, FR, FR Sport, Xperience, Xperience Lux
Transmissions:
Five-speed manual, six-speed manual, seven-speed DSG automatic

Seat was relatively early to launch a small SUV, in the form of the Arona back in 2017. It quickly established itself thanks to its decent drive, yet was still practical and cheap to run. Despite keener opposition in the form of our current compact SUV favourite, the Ford Puma, the Arona has received its mid-life refresh to keep it in touch. 

From the front, there are new upper and lower grilles, plus a revised airdam with the updated fog lamps placed higher up, closer to the grille. All Arona models also get LED headlights, like the Ibiza. With ECO LEDs on SE and SE Technology models, with full LED lights on FR
models upwards. 

At the side there are new alloy wheel designs, while at the back the Arona receives a revised spoiler and diffuser. Plus, the 'Arona' badging, which follows the family style of embossed handwritten lettering. There are also three new colour choices, taking the total to ten. Overall, the refreshed look is best described as more rugged and distinctive than before. 

Inside, like the Ibiza, the Arona has been through what seems like a design and technology revolution. Well-made and roomy best sum it up, but gone is the disappointing hard plastic dashboard, to be replaced with a much improved and higher quality feel soft one. At the top  there's a much bigger 8.2in screen, or the bigger 9.2in one that was fitted to our FR spec car. The dashboard is then split by a metal-look centre trim, but like the Ibiza, the lower half of the dashboard and door trims still look as if they are made from hard, scratchy plastic. We're not sure about the illuminated air vents either, but the coloured rings can be swapped to grey surrounds free of charge. 

Other Arona interior changes include 10.25in digital instruments on FR Sport and Xperience Lux models, plus a new Nappa leather trimmed three-spoke multi-function steering wheel. 

The new infotainment screens fitted showcase improvements around connectivity, with the integration of the wireless Full Link system. Seat claim everything from media to traffic information is available at the touch of a button - or via voice recognition. It is the same system,first seen in the Leon, and we found the menus a bit overcomplicated to use. Also being rolled out at the same time is the Seat Connect app, which allows you  to control a range of car functions via a smartphone. 

Safety has been further improved, with additional driver assistance systems debuting. These include adaptive cruise control, for top trims, plus lane assist, which is fitted to all Arona models, keeping this Seat centred in its lane. Side assist technology will make changing lanes safer, with front and rear-facing radars monitoring this Arona's blind spots, alerting the driver to any vehicles in the vicinity when they want to change lanes. Dynamic road sign technology, which is part of the Safety and Driving Pack options, ensures drivers always know what the speed limit is on any given road. 

Engine choices are unchanged, and are made up of three 1.0-litre, three-cylinder petrol engines with 95hp, 110hp, and a 150hp 1.5-litre TSI outputs. The 94hp engine is only available with five-speed manual transmission, the 109hp is fitted with six-speed manual transmission, while the 1.5-litre is DSG auto only. 

Already a popular fleet choice, Seat believe the 110hp engine we drove will be the most popular choice, offering a competitive 38% Benefit-in-Kind (BIK), and up to 53.3mpg WLTP consumption. 

With no mechanical changes, the Arona drives much the same as before; the 109hp engine noticeably torquier than the 94hp 1.0-litre TSI we tried in the Ibiza, and  mated with a precise six-speed manual gearbox. The steering also has decent weight, with good grip and comfortable ride - even on the standard 17in wheels. Although, the taller body does equal some body roll.

The latest changes, especially the interior, mark this Arona out against increasingly tough compact SUV opposition.

Seat Arona 1.0 TSI FR Manual 

P11D: £22.675

Residual value: £8.776

Depreciation: £13.899

Fuel: £6.928

Service, maintenance and repair: £1.672

Cost per mile: 37.50p

Fuel consumption: 52.3mpg

CO2 (BIK %): 121g/km (28%) 

BIK 20/40% a month: £106/£212

Luggage capacity: 400 litres

Engine size/power: 999cc/110hp


Verdict


8/10
  • Tidy drive
  • Better quality interior
  • Overcomplicated infotainment
  • Illuminated air vents won't appeal to all

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