There’s a choice of over 20 models in a handful of trim levels and using 95, 115 or 150ps petrol engines as well as 95 and 115 diesels with manual or automatic transmission choices and priced between £13,600 and £20,500.
That’s what you might reasonably expect from one of the biggest car groups in the world fighting in a highly competitive and expanding SUV sector, but the fact is the Arona is an extremely good model.
What made it even more outstanding for us was the fact we were not testing the top of range version with its eye-watering list price but one of the lowest powered models which is also one of its best sellers.
We can see why. The 95ps 1.0 TSi petrol engine is a modest triple cylinder unit which has a big task to move the near 1.2 Tonne Arona SE Technology but it does so with uncanny ease and fairly economically.
Not only that but the smoothness of the engine, the slickness of the gearchange and the precision of steering and brakes really made it stand out for us.
It felt more like a premium executive saloon model than a family-friendly five-seater SUV. That was not only due to the dynamic ability and safety which came back to the driver’s hands, but the very compliant and comfortable ride which a number of passengers commented upon.
It was easy to climb into and out off, took four in comfort and five at a pinch and its modest 400 litres bootspace could be quickly increased with offset folding backrests, although they did not lie completely flat behind the front seats but the loadspace was well shaped and of reasonable height.
Head and shoulder room was good, front seats adjusted easily and over a good range and there was plenty of oddments space with good visibility all-round.
For the driver, the controls were light, the secondary switchgear sensibly laid out and dials clear including the decent sized infotainment screen in the centre of the fascia. But we did find the test car’s conventional handbrake to be weak when fully loaded on a modest slope, but it would just hold with the driver aboard.
Usually, the little engine was a delight with its smoothness and quietness, but press on and it became noisier and the overdrive ratios in 4th and 5th meant you were sometimes having to down-change more than once to make progress or overtake.
This had modest effect on economy as we nudged towards 50mph without really trying and that’s not too far away from the listed combined average.
Over some badly potholed roads the SEAT Arona 1.0 SE Tech did a good job of soaking up surface irregularities with only the worst bumps being felt. It was not soft riding but biased towards firmness.
I liked the higher riding position of the car and the slim pillars to the roof kept blindspots to a minimum, the wipers were decent sized and the lights bright enough for the available performance.
You could hear the occasional big pothole and the busy engine at higher revs but otherwise mechanical and wind noises were low. I really liked the Arona 95ps 1.0, but if I was going to live with this quality and refined SUV I would look for more power to meet its family commitments with even greater ease.
|FAST FACTS||SEAT Arona SE Technology 1.0TSI 95ps 5sp man|
|Price: £17,545||Mechanical: 999cc 3cyl 95ps turbo-petrol, 5sp|
|Max Speed: 107 mph||0-62mph: 11.2 sec|
|Combined MPG: 57.6 ( 48mpg on test)||Insurance Group: 8E|
|C02 emissions: 111 g/klm||Bik rating: 23%, £160FY, £140SR|
|Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles||Sizes: L4.14m, W1.78m, H1.56m|
|Bootspace: 400 litres||Kerb weight: 1165kg|
|For: Very smooth powertrain and steering, refined and stylish, good economy and roomy for four
Against: Needed lots of gearchanges to make rapid progress, engine noise at higher revs, not huge boot and weak handbrake on test model.