It’s hard to believe sometimes that, just a few short years ago, Seat didn’t have a single SUV in its range. Today, of course, it has not one, but two – but what’s so remarkable about that fact is not just that the Seat Arona and Ateca exist, but that they’re so good.
With its first attempt in each respective market, Seat has produced an SUV that’s gone straight to the top of its class – the Ateca winning our Small SUV of the year in 2017, a feat that the Arona achieved in 2018. That’s quite an achievement. And one which raises a big question for SUV buyers: which of these two is best?
Of course, the Arona sits below the Ateca in size, and as a result, it’s cheaper to buy. That means that for the price of a used Ateca, you can pick up a brand new Arona with a full three-year warranty. Case closed, then, you might think – but it’s not quite as simple as that, because the Ateca’s greater size makes it a more practical family SUV, and one that comes with more equipment. So with a budget of around £17,000 to play with, which should you choose: the brand new Arona, or the used Ateca? Well, that’s what we’re here to find out.
Seat Arona 1.0 TSI 95 SE Technology List Price: £17,740 Target price: £16,214 Official fuel economy: 57.6mpg Emissions: 111g/km CO2 Power: 94bhp 0-62mph: 11.4sec Top speed: 107mph
Seat Ateca 1.0 TSI 115 SE Technology Price new: £22,560 Price today: £16,800 Official fuel economy: 53.3mpg Emissions: 120g/km CO2 Power: 113bhp 0-62mph: 11.0sec Top speed: 114mph
Price today is based on a 2017 model with average mileage and a full service history
New Seat Arona vs used Seat Ateca – interior & equipment
Inside these cars you get a first clue as to the differences between them. Both are well screwed-together and seem unlikely to rattle or for parts to break off, but the Seat Ateca certainly feels a cut above the rather cheap-feeling Arona. Where the former has soft-touch plastics and neat chrome edging, the smaller car has to make do with more brittle materials and plainer finishes. You might also find the larger knobs and buttons of the Ateca’s ventilation system to be easier to use on the move than the smaller, more fiddly items you’ll find in the Arona.
In SE Technology form, both cars feature an 8.0-inch infotainment display with much the same crisp, snappy sat nav software. However, where the Ateca features shortcut buttons down each side of the screen, the Arona uses touch-sensitive pads, which look more futuristic, but are trickier to use in practice as you can’t locate them by feel.
Both of these cars are well equipped, with cruise control, automatic headlights, that 8.0-inch touchscreen with sat nav, and rear parking sensors coming as standard. However, the Ateca adds to this with dual-zone climate control, LED headlamps, and a few other nice fripperies you don’t get on the Arona.
New Seat Arona vs used Seat Ateca – space & practicality
There’s an obvious winner here, and it’s the Ateca. By dint of its extra size, it offers you considerably more space whether you’re in the front seats, the rear seats, or loading stuff into the boot.
That said, you might be surprised by how close the Seat Arona gets; there’s still enough space in the back seats for two adults to travel comfortable, for example, although three abreast will feel a bit of a squeeze.
Neither of these cars has a clever sliding or tumbling rear seat, such as you’ll find in some rivals – and both have to make do with a 60/40 split, whereas some other SUVs offer you the flexibility to fold the seats in a 40/20/40 format. One slight advantage the Ateca does have in terms of its flexibility, though, is that you can fold the rear seats down using handles mounted in the boot – something you can’t do in the Arona.