Is a 1.0-litre engine big enough?

A reader is concerned that a small SUV with a 1.0-litre petrol engine won't be powerful enough compared with his current 1.4 hatchback...

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Claire Evans
03 June 2019

New Hyundai Kona & Volkswagen T-Roc vs Seat Arona

I currently drive a Seat Leon 1.4 TSI 125, and I’m thinking of changing it for a new Seat Arona. How much of a difference in performance is there between my car and the Arona 1.0 TSI, given that it has three cylinders and five gears, whereas mine has four cylinders and six gears?

We only use our car for leisure, although we do take a lot of stuff with us when we go on holiday.

Geoff Bury

What Car? says…

New Hyundai Kona & Volkswagen T-Roc vs Seat Arona

Our road testers reckon the 1.0 TSI 115 engine will give strong enough performance for your needs. Seat also offers this engine with a less powerful 94bhp output, but we think the 113bhp version is better suited to all types of driving. It has six gears instead of the less powerful car's five, making it a more relaxed motorway cruiser. This is likely to be important to you if you're driving to a holiday destination loaded up with luggage.

We've run a Volkswagen Golf with the same 1.0 TSI engine as in the Arona, and an Audi Q2 with the 1.4 TSI engine in your Leon, as long-term test cars. While the Golf required more frequent gearchanges for swift progress around town, it was by no means sluggish and didn’t feel a great deal less powerful than the Q2. We did a lot of motorway miles in the Golf, as well as plenty of local runs, and were happy with it.

We’d suggest you test drive the Arona and some bigger-engined cars to compare. If you do want more performance and are prepared to raise your budget, you might want to consider a bigger family SUV, such as the Seat Ateca or Skoda Karoq.


Best small SUVs and the ones to avoid

Small SUVs are among the most popular cars on sale because they offer the high-set driving position, practicality and muscular looks of more traditional off-roaders, but usually without the high purchase price or running costs – so they can make great family cars.

Here, we count down the top 10 small SUVs you can currently buy – and reveal the models that are best to steer clear of.


10. Hyundai Kona

Hyundai Kona

The Kona is a very small SUV and rivals the Kia Stonic and Seat Arona. While it has sprightly performance, its ride isn’t as smooth as its competitors. 

It’s also well equipped and has a good infotainment system, but the Kona simply isn’t outstanding enough to be at the top of our small-SUV wish list. 

Read our full Hyundai Kona review, and see our latest deals and leasing offers


9. Mini Countryman

Used Mini Countryman Hatchback 17-present

The Countryman has a well-appointed, plush-looking interior and a decently sized boot. It handles well, but the ride can be unsettled and it has more road and wind noise than in some rivals.

The Countryman is large by small SUV standards and makes decent use of what space there is. A high roof and low seating position mean even the tallest of drivers will be able to get comfortable, while a wide body means you shouldn’t be rubbing elbows with your passenger.

Read our full Mini Countryman review, and see our latest deals and leasing offers


8. Renault Captur

Renault Captur

The Captur may look like a chunky SUV that shrunk in the wash, but it’s actually a cunningly disguised Clio on stilts. Like the Clio, a range of economical petrol and diesel engines are available and only the front wheels are driven.

The Captur is good value, undercutting most of its rivals on purchase price and offering some of the lowest CO2 emissions in its class. It's not as swift or agile as the competition, though, and its interior quality is underwhelming compared with the best in class.

Read our full Renault Captur review, and see our latest deals and leasing offers

Next: more of our favourite small SUVs >

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