Seat Arona review

Category: Small SUV

Good to drive, roomy inside and fairly affordable to own

Seat Arona front cornering
  • Seat Arona front cornering
  • Seat Arona rear cornering
  • Seat Arona interior dashboard
  • Seat Arona interior back seats
  • Seat Arona interior infotainment
  • Seat Arona right tracking
  • Seat Arona front right tracking
  • Seat Arona rear right tracking
  • Seat Arona front tracking
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  • Seat Arona front left static
  • Seat Arona headlights detail
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  • Seat Arona alloy wheel detail
  • Seat Arona interior steering wheel detail
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  • Seat Arona boot open
  • Seat Arona front cornering
  • Seat Arona rear cornering
  • Seat Arona interior dashboard
  • Seat Arona interior back seats
  • Seat Arona interior infotainment
  • Seat Arona right tracking
  • Seat Arona front right tracking
  • Seat Arona rear right tracking
  • Seat Arona front tracking
  • Seat Arona front right tracking
  • Seat Arona front left static
  • Seat Arona headlights detail
  • Seat Arona rear lights detail
  • Seat Arona alloy wheel detail
  • Seat Arona interior steering wheel detail
  • Seat Arona interior detail
  • Seat Arona boot open
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Introduction

What Car? says...

The original Seat Arona was the Spanish car maker's second foray into the world of SUVs, following up on the success of the Ateca – a former category winner at our Car of the Year Awards no less. 

The Arona is a small SUV based on the Seat Ibiza small hatchback and (in case you were wondering) gets its name from a small municipality in Tenerife.

To help keep the Arona relevant, Seat has given the range a mid-life facelift. The changes made were mostly to the interior, fitting it out with softer materials, a more advanced infotainment system and, in higher trim versions, digital dials. 

It's a bit pricier than some of its peers, but still cheaper than the premium models in the small SUV category, which also includes the Audi Q2, the Mini Countryman and the VW T-Roc. That makes the Arona look rather good value, as it has a lot in common with the Q2 and T-Roc (both being from the same Volkswagen Group stable) including a similar range of petrol engines.

So are the latest updates enough to equip the Seat Arona with the tools it needs to stack up against its key rivals in this competitive class? That's what this review will tell you. We'll be comparing it with the similar sized Ford Puma and T-Roc as well as the slightly longer Countryman and Skoda Kamiq. We'll also tell you all about its performance, interior quality and running costs, and our preferred engine and trim.  

Once you've decided which make and model is right for you, you can find the best prices on hundreds of cars by searching our free What Car? New Car Deals pages. They features lots of excellent new small SUV deals.

Overview

The Arona remains a great small SUV choice, and undercuts most of its rivals on price. It'll prove spacious enough inside for most people and is one of the more enjoyable cars in this class to drive. Overall, we prefer the nimbler Ford Puma and more spacious Skoda Kamiq, but that shouldn't stop the Arona featuring high up on your shopping list.

  • Tidy handling
  • Roomier than many rivals
  • Well equipped
  • So-so interior quality
  • Top trims are too pricey
  • Rivals have more flexible rear seats
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Our Pick

OurPicksRRP £23,525
Seat Arona 1.0 TSI SE Technology 5dr review
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox

The Seat Arona engine range kicks off with the 94bhp 1.0 TSI 95. It can feel a bit sluggish at low revs, but once you’re up and running, there’s enough power to sit comfortably at motorway speeds. Officially, it’ll get from 0-62mph in 11.5sec, which is ever so slightly quicker than the VW T-Cross (0.1sec, if you care about such things) and nearly two seconds slower than the entry-level Ford Puma.

The extra power that the mid-range 108bhp 1.0 TSI 110 has makes it our chosen engine. It doesn’t cost much more but pulls better from low revs and feels more energetic in every situation. If you choose SE or SE Technology trim, it'll be paired with an automatic gearbox that flicks through the gears quickly and smoothly. Higher trims give you the choice of a manual or auto.

Seat Arona image
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At the top of the range is the 148bhp 1.5 TSI Evo 150. Its extra power helps deliver much quicker acceleration than either of the 1.0-litre units, but it pushes the Arona's price into the territory of the VW T-Roc and other larger, more grown-up cars.

Suspension and ride comfort

The Arona rides well on 17in alloy wheels (the smallest available), confidently soaking up the bumps and potholes you typically find in most towns and cities. It’s more comfortable than the Citroën C3 Aircross, Kia Stonic and Mini Countryman. The same can be said when you reach motorway speeds, where the Arona proves to be a settled and comfortable cruiser. 

If you opt for FR trim, you get firmer sports suspension, while FR Sport pairs the sports suspension with larger 18in alloy wheels. With the larger wheels and stiffer suspension fitted, the Arona is noticeably less settled over craggy roads, although it stops short of being uncomfortable – a Nissan Juke for example is generally more agitated over all surfaces.

The top-tier Xperience Lux trim gets 18in rims but not sports suspension. As a result, it’s a little more settled than the FR Sport, but still thumps a little over larger abrasions. If comfort is high on your list of priorities, we’d recommend taking a look at the softer Skoda Kamiq or the T-Cross.

Seat Arona rear cornering

Handling

One of the strengths of the larger Seat Ateca is how fun it is to drive – a rare quality among SUVs, especially at this end of the market. The good news is that, on the whole, Seat hasn’t dropped the ball with the Arona.

In fact, because it’s lighter and a bit lower to the ground than its bigger sibling, the Arona changes direction with a bit more gusto and leans less doing so. It’s more agile and entertaining than most of its direct rivals, especially the C3 Aircross and Renault Captur. The Arona isn’t the cornering king of this class, though. The sweet-handling Puma undoubtedly takes that title.

The sports suspension you get as standard with the FR and FR Sport trims results in even better body composure. On top of that, they also add a Drive Profile switch that allows you to adjust the weight of the steering. We tend to leave it in Normal mode, as the steering builds weight progressively as you turn the wheel. That's an improvement over the overly light (yet still precise) steering of the regular models.

Noise and vibration

​​The Arona's 1.0-litre TSI three-cylinder engines are relatively smooth and make a nice thrummy engine note as you cruise along. If you work them harder, you'll feel a few vibrations filtering up through the steering wheel and pedals. 

The four-cylinder 1.5 TSI 150 is the smoothest engine in the range, but pushes the Arona's price into the territory of more premium small SUVs. Road noise is fairly well contained in all models, but you’ll hear more wind noise above 50mph than you would in the T-Roc. 

The Arona's manual gearbox and clutch might not be quite as well-weighted as a Puma’s, but they’re more precise than those in the C3 Aircross and Juke. The dual-clutch automatic gearbox can be a bit jerky in stop-start situations, but on the move it’s smooth through the gears.

"The Arona is not the best small SUV for body control, but it has communicative, responsive steering, so it’s more enjoyable than rivals to drive along a snaking road," Will Nightingale, Reviews Editor

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

Driving position and dashboard

You shouldn’t find it difficult to get comfortable in the Seat Arona. The driver’s seat has plenty of adjustment and the steering wheel can be moved up, down, in and out. The only demerit we’d give the Arona is that, unlike in the Ford Puma and VW T-Roc, you can’t have adjustable lumbar support.

If you long for a lofty driving position in your small SUV, the Arona might not be the best car for you. As with the Skoda Kamiq, you’ll barely feel any higher up in it than you would in a hatchback. If that's a deal-breaker, have a look at the Puma, the Nissan Juke or the VW T-Cross – they all have you sitting quite a bit higher up.

The Arona’s interior is well laid out, with the infotainment system sitting high up on the dashboard. Digital instruments are standard across the range, replacing traditional dials with either an 8.0in or 10.0in driver display that can show full-screen navigation maps and other information. Lower down the centre console you’ll find clearly labelled buttons and knobs to control the air conditioning, all of which are angled towards the driver to make them easier to operate.

Visibility, parking sensors and cameras

The Arona’s eye-catching looks haven’t come at the expense of forward visibility. The windscreen pillars don’t obstruct your view too much – even when pulling out of junctions – and it’s easy to judge where the car’s extremities are, certainly compared with the challenge of doing so from the more enclosed interior of the Peugeot 2008.

The Arona’s heavily styled rear end does make it trickier to see out of the back when parking. However, all trim levels except entry-level SE come with rear parking sensors, while range-topping Xperience Lux models also get sensors at the front of the car, a rear-view camera and parking assist.

All versions of the Arona come with automatic LED headlights, but the power varies depending on whether you go for the entry-level SE and SE Technology trims, which both get Eco LED headlights, or FR and above, which get full LEDs. Regardless of trim, all are bright enough to give great visibility at night.

Seat Arona interior dashboard

Sat nav and infotainment

Every Arona has a touchscreen infotainment system, DAB radio, and wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring. We’ve yet to try the 8.25in screen you get with entry-level SE trim but we have used the larger 9.2in screen that comes with all other trims, including our favourite, SE Technology.  

The display is crisp and bright, and responds quickly to your prods. In fact, it’s one of the better systems out there, keeping everything simple with a small number of menus. You do get some touch-sensitive shortcut buttons on the left side of the screen but it’s predominantly a touchscreen-based unit, which does make it more distracting to use when you're driving than the rotary-dial iDrive system that you’ll find in the Mini Countryman.

SE misses out on built-in sat-nav, but the smartphone mirroring on all trims lets you use a navigation app on your phone through the car's touchscreen. SE Technology and above get sat-nav as standard.

Quality

The interior of the Arona has improved tenfold since its original launch. Many of the hard, scratchy plastics across the dashboard have been replaced with soft-touch materials and convincing fake-metal trim pieces to make it a far more pleasant place to be. That’s not to say there are no cheap-feeling plastics, but you have to search lower down in the interior to find them.

All versions of the Arona come with a leather flat-bottomed steering wheel and a leather gear knob and handbrake, and they all look and feel good. 

As a whole, the interior of the Arona feels well screwed together and is a step up in quality compared with older versions. Even so, it still doesn’t quite live up to the kings of quality in the class, the Audi Q2 and Mini Countryman.

"The Arona's air conditioning controls are quite low down, but they are at least easy to use. Visibility is good by class standards, plus you get rear parking sensors," Neil Winn, Deputy Reviews Editor

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

Front space

Even if you’re well over six feet tall, you won't feel your hair brushing the Seat Arona’s high roof lining and the seats slide back far enough to accommodate anyone with long legs. Shoulder room is good too, making the Arona feel as spacious as some cars from the class above. The VW Taigo is similarly impressive in this regard, but the bigger VW T-Roc will suit you better if you're very tall.

The front door bins are not the biggest but they do have room for a large water bottle, and there are also two smaller cupholders. In front of the gearlever, you get a cubbyhole that doubles as the area for wireless phone-charging on SE Technology trim and above. There's also a decent-sized glovebox, a small recess for loose change and a large cubby behind the handbrake.

The top-of-the-range Xperience and Xperience Lux trims get a Storage pack that adds a central armrest, a drawer under the driver’s seat, a mounting feature in the luggage compartment and a document holder under the front passenger seat.

Rear space

Yes, the Arona is a small SUV but you might be surprised how roomy it is in the back – especially considering Seat’s history of prioritising chiselled looks over practicality.

There's more leg room than there is in the back of the Citroën C3 Aircross and Hyundai Kona for example, so a couple of six-footers will fit. That said, the VW T-Cross has even more space, while the Skoda Kamiq is cavernous, with greater leg room than some larger family SUVs.

Carrying three people in the back of the Arona is, perhaps unsurprisingly, a bit of a squeeze for all concerned. If you’ll regularly need to do that, the wider T-Roc is a slightly better bet.

Seat Arona interior back seats

Seat folding and flexibility

Don’t expect the Arona to have any clever practicality tricks up its sleeve, such as sliding rear seats or a folding front passenger’s seat. Both are available on some rivals: the Renault Captur and the T-Cross get a sliding rear bench, and the rear seats in the Mini Countryman slide and recline.

The Arona's rear bench folds down in a 60/40 split, but there are no release handles in the boot to make this process easier. Instead, you have to open the rear doors and press a button next to the rear head restraints – a bit of a faff.

Regardless of which trim you go for, both front seats are height adjustable and, if you go for FR Sport or Xperience Lux trim, they’re heated too.

Boot space

The Arona's 400-litre boot is a match for the Captur's and beats the Kona and the Kia Stonic for storage. To give you an idea of how much space the Arona gives you, we were able to fit five carry-on suitcases into its boot, the same as the VW Golf will take. 

Even so, if carrying lots of cargo is something you do regularly, you might want to take a look at the champions of the class – the Ford Puma and the Kamiq. They're capable of swallowing up to eight and seven cases respectively below their parcel shelves.

A height-adjustable boot floor comes as standard on all Arona trim levels. In its highest setting, it removes the lip at the boot entrance so there’s no annoying step in the floor of the extended load bay when the rear seats are folded down.

"The Arona has a tall boot and, like most rivals, a height adjustable boot floor. It’s also the car six-footers would choose to sit in the back of because rear headroom is excellent," Darren Moss, Deputy Digital Editor

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2

The entry-level Seat Arona is at the more affordable end of the small SUV spectrum, although the Nissan Juke just undercuts it. The downside is that it's not expected to hold on to its value over three years as well as the more expensive rivals, including the Ford Puma and Skoda Kamiq.

That said, most buyers won’t be buying with cash – they’ll be signing up to a PCP finance deal – and the Arona offers competitive monthly repayments, although these will vary as manufacturer promotions come and go. To find out how cheap the Arona (or any model) is to finance or buy after our Target Price discounts, take a look at our New Car Deals pages.

Fuel economy is good, too. The 1.0 TSI 95 averaged a very credible 45.9mpg in our real-world True MPG tests and the more powerful petrols don’t drink like fishes, either. The mild-hybrid petrol engines in the Puma are generally even more fuel efficient, though. Official CO2 emissions are comparable with those of the Puma, Skoda Karoq and VW T-Cross (which is useful to know if you'll be paying company car tax).

Equipment, options and extras

Entry-level SE trim includes 17in alloys, cruise control, air conditioning, a contrasting roof colour and metallic paint. Our favourite trim level is SE Technology, mainly for the better infotainment system and rear parking sensors. 

The FR and FR Sport trims are the sporty options, with enhanced styling and a few extras, including climate control and power-folding door mirrors. They’re also the only versions with firmer sports suspension. 

The two luxury choices, Xperience and Xperience Lux, add some fancier details like the Storage Pack and high-beam assist (and the additional parking sensors on Xperience Lux) but we’d avoid them because of their price tags. 

Seat Arona interior infotainment

Reliability

The Arona ranked 15th out of 25 small SUVs in our 2022 What Car? Reliability Survey. That’s ahead of the Puma, Kamiq and T-Cross, but behind the Audi Q2, the Mini Countryman and the Juke.

All versions of the Arona come with a three-year warranty that covers you up to 60,000 miles. That’s pretty average for the market, and certainly not as impressive as the seven-year warranty you get with the Kia Stonic.

Europe-wide breakdown cover is included for two years, and you can pay extra to have your warranty extended if you plan to keep your Arona for longer.

Safety and security

Every Arona comes with automatic emergency braking (AEB) and tyre-pressure monitoring, while upgrading to Xperience trim gets you blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.

The Arona was tested for safety by Euro NCAP in 2017, and has since been retested in 2022 under a more stringent regime. In both cases, it was awarded five stars out of five, which is more than can be said of the Puma, which was downgraded to four stars. The Arona has an emergency call system – which the Puma doesn’t – and does a better job at safeguarding against neck injuries.

"It's disappointing that you have to upgrade to FR trim or above to get an alarm, which is standard fit on many of the Arona's rivals," Dan Jones, Reviewer

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FAQs

  • The Arona shares engines and various mechanical bits with the VW T-Roc and VW T-Cross along with the Skoda Kamiq. In terms of fun-to-drive small SUVs, you might want to consider the Ford Puma.

  • No. Think of the Arona as a Seat Ibiza on stilts and you’ll have a better understanding of its size. The Seat Leon is much longer than the Arona (4368mm vs 4154mm).

  • The two do share the same engines and have various mechanical parts in common, but the VW T-Cross is taller and can be had with sliding rear seats, making it a more practical choice than the Arona.

  • The Arona is taller than the Seat Ibiza – but only just. It’s a little longer than an Ibiza, plus it has a bigger boot. Handily, both are quite narrow, making town driving easy.

  • You don’t sit all that high up relative to other small SUVs but it does feel a smidge higher than the Skoda Kamiq.

At a glance
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RRP price range £22,460 - £29,260
Number of trims (see all)7
Number of engines (see all)3
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)petrol
MPG range across all versions 48.7 - 52.3
Available doors options 5
Warranty 3 years / 60000 miles
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £1,242 / £1,739
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £2,485 / £3,478
Available colours