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Dave Humphreys

Review: The new SEAT Arona is a real star pupil in the crossover class

We test drive the new compact crossover from SEAT.

THE ARONA IS SEAT’s new compact crossover which shares the same revised MQB platform as the Ibiza supermini. However, being a crossover, the Arona is taller, has a bit more ground clearance and a higher driving position than its Ibiza sibling. It also has a bigger boot (400 litres versus 355 litres).

What is similar to the Ibiza though is the sharp exterior styling and vibrant handling.

The Arona certainly is eye-catching, especially in two-tone form with its contrasting roof (this doesn’t come as standard). It is striking from all angles and has really great proportions.

Melanie May Melanie May

Inside isn’t quite as impressive as the outside but it is still a well appointed cabin with comfortable heated seats, decent amounts of storage space, a lovely modern looking infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – and my test car had wireless charging too.

Across the dash and on the door cards were strips of contrasting trim but this was so shiny and reflective that it was quite distracting when the sun hit it. Apart from this there wasn’t much in the way of style to elevate the cabin and give it a bit of flair, but this is hardly a dealbreaker.

And anyway, once you get the car out on the road it exhibits plenty of flair and sparkle. It has a lovely, playful chassis and it handles more like a five-door hatch than a supermini on stilts.

The Arona seems to find grip effortlessly and is surefooted in and out of fast bends. Body-roll is well contained and adds to the twisty fun. The suspension is supple but not too soft and does a good job of protecting occupants from feeling the lumps and bumps of even very rough roads. Adding to the comfort is the sound insulation which blocks out a fair bit of wind, road and engine noise.

Not that the engine is that noisy at all. In fact, the 115hp 1.0-litre petrol unit is smooth and refined with a lovely offbeat three-cylinder thrum when revved. It is well matched with the six-speed manual gearbox which has nice short, precise throws. It’s quite fun to work though the gears quickly.

The steering is a little on the light side for my taste, but it does make the Arona very easy to manoeuvre and whilst there is little in the way of feedback (much the same for most models in this segment) the steering does feel precise.

When it comes to price, the Arona is very competitive – coming in at €17,995 for the entry level ‘S’ trim with a 95hp 1.0-litre petrol engine. This price undercuts rivals like the Peugeot 2008 (€19,600), Nissan Juke (€19,995) and Renault Captur (€20,290).

However, SEAT is expecting that the majority of Arona buyers will pay an extra €2,720 to step up to ‘SE’ trim. The 115hp 1.0-litre SE Arona costs €20,715 and comes quite well specced with 16-inch alloy wheels, front fog lamp with cornering function, LED rear lights, an eight-inch touchscreen display, leather gear knob, handbrake and multifunction steering wheel, air-con, Bluetooth, voice control and SEAT Full Link smartphone connection.

Overall, the SEAT Arona is a cracking compact crossover with sharp styling, crisp handling with a great value proposition.

READ: Airbag Deactivation: How to do it and why you might need to >

READ: Review: The Honda Civic Type R looks like a bad boy… but it’s oh so good >

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