Stick to the 1.0-litre petrol engines and the bottom two rungs of the trim ladder and the Arona makes an awful lot of sense. Yes, it’s still slightly more expensive than the equivalent Captur or Juke, but there’s a good reason for that: it’s a better car.
Although we’re yet to try it in the Arona, the entry-level 94bhp 1.0-litre petrol unit may very well be engine of choice. It’s a fine motor in the closely related Ibiza, so there’s no reason it shouldn’t be here – and it keeps the Arona’s price suitably far south of the larger Ateca’s.
Keeping the price down is another reason it’s hard to see past second-tier SE Technology trim. It comes with 17in alloys, cruise control, air conditioning and automatic emergency braking (AEB) – all things that are standard on the entry-level SE – but also adds rear parking sensors and, crucially, that swankier 8.0in touchscreen infotainment system.
The sportier styling of FR and FR Sport trim will be too hard for many buyers to resist, but be aware that you’re mostly paying for trinkets. Likewise, the relative luxuries that come as standard on range-topping Xcellence and Xcellence Lux trims – keyless entry, adaptive cruise control and climate control – push up the price considerably and make the Arona increasingly hard to recommend.
So, to sum up, we reckon the new Arona is quite possibly the best sub-£20k SUV on the market. But if you're going to spend much more than that, which is easily possible, there are several bigger, classier options that deserve your attention, not least Seat’s very own Ateca.
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Seat Arona 1.0 TSI 115 manual
Price £19,895 Engine 3cyl, 999cc, turbo petrol Power 114bhp at 5000-5500rpm Torque 148lb ft at 2000-3500rpm Gearbox 6-spd manual 0-62mph 10.0sec Top speed 113mph Official economy 56.5mpg CO2, tax band 113g/km, 21%
The best and worst small SUVs of 2017
The new Arona is entering a fiercely competitive market, with pretty much every mainstream manufacturer offering at least one small SUV these days. Here we count down our 10 favourites – and reveal the models to avoid.
10. Kia Soul
The Soul is more of a jacked-up hatchback than a fully fledged SUV. However, it still offers many of the benefits buyers in this market are looking for – it's competitively priced and its interior is roomy and well equippped. All of the Soul's engines could be more efficient and quiet, though, and there's plenty of wind noise at motorway speeds. There's a fully electric version to consider if you'll mainly be driving in town.
Our pick: 1.6 GDi 2
9. Audi Q3
While high-end versions are pricey, the Q3 is a desirable choice in this market, with a high quality interior. It's also good to drive and relatively inexpensive to run, with engines that are mostly smooth and strong.
Our pick: 2.0 TDI 150 SE
Compact on the outside but spacious inside, the Vitara is an easy car to live with. There's lots of standard kit on offer and it's relatively practical. It's just a pity that its petrol engines' CO2 emissions are unusually high for this class.
Our pick: 1.6 SZ4
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