Seat Arona long-term test review

The Seat Arona is our reigning Small SUV of the Year. We’ve added one to our long-term test fleet to see if it’s as impressive when you live with it every day...

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Kris Culmer
14 June 2018

  • The car Seat Arona 1.0 TSI 95 SE Technology
  • Run by Kris Culmer, sub-editor
  • Why it’s here To validate its position as head of the burgeoning small SUV class
  • Needs to Prove practical enough for a family, display the pleasant driving characteristics of its relatives and be economical to run

Price £17,545 Price as tested £17,545 Miles 9666 Official economy 57.6mpg Test economy 46.2mpg Options fitted None


14 June 2018 – investigating infotainment

Last year, we conducted a survey that revealed nearly four times as many people choose connectivity gadgets over safety upgrades when specifying a new car.

Apart from revealing something quite troubling about human nature, that fact also made me realise just how important infotainment is becoming when people choose their wheels. Certainly, to me, it comes right after the driving experience and safety.

 

Seat Arona long-term test review

I dare say the Arona’s is one of the best around. Found throughout the Volkswagen Group’s model portfolio, this 8.0in touchscreen is clear and responsive, with software that is intuitive and has never once frozen up on me.

Either side of the screen is a touch-sensitive panel with four icons and a rotary dial. The left dial is for volume (although it’s better to use the roller on the steering wheel for this) and the right one acts as a selector. Each icon also selects a menu.

For music, I mostly listen to my iPod via a USB port (of which there are two), and the system allows me to choose a playlist to listen to, displays song names and album artwork and never lags if I skip a track (some cars’ systems are infuriating slow at doing this).

 

Seat Arona long-term test review

The radio interface is even better; it allows me to put my favourite stations on large tiles on the radio menu, like the chunky 1-2-3-4 buttons did in the old days, so there’s no distracting list to scroll through each time.

The phone menu does a similar thing, allowing me to have my most-called people on speed dial – which is a good thing, since I've found the Arona's voice control setup to be lacking at best. Our interactions usually go something like this:

Me: ‘Call Ron.’ Arona: ‘Please repeat.’ Me: ‘Call. Ron.’ Arona: ‘Air conditioning functions cannot be controlled with voice commands.’ Me: A collection of words which cannot be repeated in print.

You can use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, but, against popular opinion, I can’t see much point, because I can Bluetooth my phone, there’s inbuilt sat-nav and if someone really needs to get hold of me, they can call – I’m not going to access texts while driving.

Talking of sat-nav, that’s rather nice, too: the mapping is clear, it offers you three different routes each time you enter a destination and it has live traffic data. If the voice control worked, I could even ask it to ‘take me home, country roads’.

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