Used Seat Arosa Hatchback 1997 - 2004 review

Category: Small car

The Seat Arosa offers decent quality and a strong image at a decent price

Seat Arosa Hatchback (97 - 04)
  • Seat Arosa Hatchback (97 - 04)
  • Seat Arosa Hatchback (97 - 04)
Used Seat Arosa Hatchback 1997 - 2004 review
Star rating

What's the used Seat Arosa hatchback like?

The Seat Arosa is an intriguing mix of abilities and limitations. On the plus side, it has all the style, image and quality of its VW Lupo half-brother, but costs slightly less to buy. It's also cheap to run and cheap to insure.

The best thing, though, is that it's exceedingly refined for a city car, with wind and road noise kept well in check. The engines are pretty hushed, too, and all versions are quite well equipped.


The Seat Arosa offers decent quality and a strong image at a decent price

  • All the quality of a VW Lupo but cheaper
  • Can't match the best for handling or practicality

On the downside, the ride is too choppy when you're travelling at motorway speeds. Also, kneeroom in the back is cramped, and as one of the more expensive city cars, the Arosa should have been better in this respect. It's no worse than other city cars, but it's no better, either.

It should be more fun to drive, too. Don't get us wrong, it isn't bad, but it's nowhere near as entertaining as a Ford Ka, for example.

Ownership cost

What used Seat Arosa hatchback will I get for my budget?

How much does it cost to run a Seat Arosa hatchback?

The Arosa isn't the cheapest city car by any means - similar-sized offerings from Daewoo or Hyundai will cost you a lot less. However, these cars can't get anywhere near the Arosa for quality, and the only car that can, the VW Lupo, will cost you more than an Arosa.

Filling it up with fuel won't bankrupt you, either. The 1.0-litre will return an average of 48.7mpg, the 1.4 will give you either 37.7mpg or 42.2mpg depending on the power output you choose, and the later 1.4 diesel will give you 64.2mpg.

Servicing costs will be pretty good, too. At 10,000 miles, the Arosa has fairly reasonable service intervals, and the bills won't amount to much more than the class average, even if the Arosa isn't really any cheaper to service than the Lupo.

Our recommendations

Which used Seat Arosa hatchback should I buy?

Early Arosas came with a choice of four engines - a 50bhp 1.0-litre, 60bhp and 100bhp 1.4 engines, and a 60bhp 1.7-litre diesel - and the 1.0-litre is our pick. It's a bit short of power on the open road, but it's fine around town, and it's the cheapest to buy and run.

The smaller 1.4 is pointless because it's barely any stronger than the 1.0, but the more powerful 1.4 provides some useful extra punch. Don't bother with the diesel, though - it's too sluggish.

The Arosa was facelifted in 2001, and the diesel was replaced with a new, much better 75bhp 1.4-litre unit. This is worth considering, but it is the most expensive version.

You only get a choice of trim level with the 1.0-litre - either standard or S. Standard is basic, but S is much better and won't cost much more. You'll get alloys, power steering, a driver's airbag and electric windows. The other engines only come individually trimmed.

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What alternatives should I consider to a used Seat Arosa hatchback?