2022 Seat Arona long-term test: report 3
When it first went on sale, the Seat Arona was the best small SUV around, but it's been surpassed by other cars. Has a recent facelift put it back on top? We're living with one to find out...
The car 2022 Seat Arona 1.0 TSI 110 FR Sport DSG Run by Kiall Garrett, senior videographer
Why it’s here Can the sporty version of Seat's small SUV be spacious and efficient enough for What Car?'s videographer?
Needs to Be practical, comfortable on long journeys and exciting to drive
Mileage 1832 Price £26,345 Target Price £24,628 Price as tested £25,580 Test economy 41.8mpg Official economy 46.3mpg
27 April 2022 – A Welsh grand tourer?
What does my Seat Arona have in common with the Audi RS3 and BMW 2 Series M240i, two barn-storming performance cars?
On the surface, the answer is: not a lot. But all three were brought together in Wales recently, because I was shooting a twin test between the Audi and the BMW, which required long journeys carrying loads of stuff over a long couple of days – and situations like this tell you a lot about a car.
The Arona had to conquer the 200-mile-each-way journey to the west of the country to get me to the shoot and back. It was the longest trip I have taken with the car so far but, handily, I’ve done this journey multiple times in many different cars, so I’m in a good position to judge how the Arona stacks up.
Gladly, it carried me to my destination in decent comfort. The sport seats that come with FR trim and above hug you nicely, and the generous padding saved my rear from going numb, meaning I didn't need to spend half an hour stretching after the journey. I also didn’t miss lumbar support, which is not available at all with the Arona.
The ride on the motorway itself was fairly smooth – certainly better than my old Suzuki S-Cross. But while the 1.0-litre petrol engine in my car is plenty peppy enough for this kind of trip, it can get raucously loud inside when you’re pushing on at higher speeds the motorway, combined with a fair amount of road noise from the tyres; the standard six-speaker sound system did a good job of drowning out road roar, though.
As for efficiency, I managed an impressive 45.1mpg on the 400-motorway-mile round trip – amazingly close to the car's official figure of 46.3mpg. I suspect the RS3 and M240i on this shoot recorded a fair bit less than that. But, as I’ve mentioned before, the Arona’s 35-litre fuel tank is a pain. The rival Peugeot 2008 and Ford Puma can hold a much more impressive 44 and 45 litres respectively. So even though it’s relatively efficient, I still find myself having to stop regularly to fill up.
But again, I find the question I keep coming back to is: do I need a bigger car?
Transporting, unloading and setting up the various cases and bags of equipment I use means the bigger the boot, the easier my life is. And while I've always managed to fit all of my kit into the back of the Arona, I've needed to fill up the rear seats as well as the boot to fit everything in on most journeys.
This also proves slightly challenging when trying to set up equipment. On bigger cars I can effectively use the parcel shelf as a desk – but no such luck in my Arona, because the parcel shelf spends most of its time in my flat, so I can liberate a little more space in the car.
But while a bigger car would suit me better in some cases, the Arona has grown on me very quickly, thanks to its impressive ride comfort and fuel economy.
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2022 Seat Arona long-term test: report 4
When it first went on sale, the Seat Arona was the best small SUV around, but it's been surpassed by other cars. Has a recent facelift put it back on top? We're living with one to find out