SEAT’s claim to be one of the fastest growing car brands in Ireland will be further enhanced with the addition of the new small crossover Arona model.
This car is the fourth new model from the Spanish brand that’s wholly owned by the giant Volkswagen Group.
The Arona is named after a town on the sun-kissed island of Tenerife.
This car is smaller than the Ateca SUV and will be looking to build on the success which its larger sibling has had in its own class. It adds a new dimension of small car charm to the SEAT range and was recently singled out as Best Product Design 2018 by the prestigious Red Dot Award design competition.
SEAT claims the Arona is the first compact crossover in the Volkswagen Group to use the state-of-the-art vehicle platform, MQB A0.
This is the same platform used in the new SEAT Ibiza, drawing on the technology expertise of the German car giant.
While the Arona is noticeably smaller than the Ateca, SEAT has fitted it with compact crossover with all of the driving assistance and infotainment systems you would expect, such as front assist, adaptive cruise control, hill hold control, fatigue detection, rain and headlight sensors and multi-collision brake. But not all that specification is included in the entry models.
Also included were rear traffic alert, blind spot detection and park assistance system, which works for both parallel and angle parking.
The car was well equipped in terms of connectivity, with Apple Car Play, Android Auto and Mirror Link.
I recently drove the petrol powered and turbo-charged 1.0 litre TSI version that’s rated at 115bhp.
The specification was the Excellence grade so that meant I was able to sample almost all of the above features along with keyless entry and start/stop system, rear view camera, premium 8” black panel touchscreen.
Out on the road, this Volkswagen Group three-cylinder engine was lively and responsive to drive. My test drives normally cover more than 700km and that includes quite a few longer motorway runs.
In the Arona, the driving experience was good, while the easily adjustable seats mirrored the compact nature of the car.
This type of driving shows economy differences where the aim is to drive the car at its most economical, while not compromising on performance.
For the 1.0-litre TSI SEAT Arona, the 120km/hr motorway speed pushed the car into a higher and less economical zone.
This meant that over a 1,100km test drive I was overall 20% less economical than the rated figure of 20.4km/litre (4.9l/100km or 56mpg).
For longer distance drivers, this proved once again why we need to re-think our views about diesel engines.
SEAT’s diesel version of the Arona is 20%, with its 1.6-litre clean turbo-diesel engine more economical, even if its €2,300 more expensive to buy.
I don’t think that it’s time to dispense with modern clean diesel engines when we have to burn more than 25% extra petrol to complete the same journey.
The six-speed gearbox is smooth to use with a light touch feel that makes for easy driving. But the extra ratios were not enough to deliver diesel engine economy for the longer distance, commuter drivers.
For them the economy sweet spot is with the engine at 2000rpm and that will deliver a steady motorway speed of 100km/hr.
The Arona is well equipped on the safety front and its recent Euro NCAP five-star safety rating does confirm its credentials.
However, the slight concern is the recent recall issued by SEAT because of the possibility that in rare situations (e.g. sudden quick lane changes with five passengers on board) and when the rear centre seat and the rear left seat are occupied at the same time, the left seat belt could be unintentionally released.
SEAT has identified a technical solution which will prevent this from happening and advised not to use the middle seat of the new Ibiza and Arona until the car has been equipped with the redesigned belt lock fixture.
The SEAT Arona has been designed to appeal to young and fun generation with lots of colour and specification choices to personalise the car. This is supported by a 3 year warranty deal that’s limited to 90,000km.
Entry prices for the SEAT Arona start at €18,995 with 16in steel wheels and roof rails to enhance the car’s stance and appeal.
Entry level Arona S models get a good safety package.
The SEAT Arona competes is a compact crossover sector that getting packed with new models by the month.
The Arona styling package is good, the economy features of diesel power need some serious consideration because the 40 litre capacity fuel tank for the petrol model emptied far too quickly for my liking.