Words by Declan Glynn

It may be relatively small in size, but the new SEAT Arona has a large number of things going for it.

Voted Irish Small Crossover of the Year for 2019, the multi-talented Arona can hold its head high in a segment full of talented rivals, and is the new benchmark in the small crossover/SUV market.

Once only associated with small and family cars, the Spanish brand (under the ownership of the Volkswagen Group since 1986) is now leading the way with SUVs, too.

Based on the excellent Ibiza hatchback, the new SEAT Arona is offered in four trim levels – S, SE, Xcellence, and FR – but sits taller on the road for added practicality.

Engine options consist of a 1.0-litre (TSI) turbo-petrol unit in two states of tune – 95bhp and 115bhp, a 1.5-litre (TSI) turbo-petrol with 150bhp, and a 1.6-litre (TDI) turbo-diesel producing either 95bhp or 115bhp, depending on the model chosen.

A five-speed manual gearbox is standard with the 95bhp petrol and diesel engines, while the higher power units attract an extra gear.

The VW Group’s wonderful 7-speed DSG (automatic) gearbox is available in all but the entry level S trim with selected petrol and diesel engines.

As is the norm for this type of car, the Arona is offered in front-wheel-drive format only.

The new Arona is an easy car to personalise – should you so wish – with a choice of 10 body colours, and the option to go grey, black, or orange on the roof.

In total, there are 68 possible colour combinations available, allowing owners to make their car as exclusive as possible.

My review car was an Arona Xcellence 1.0-litre TSI 115bhp 6-speed manual in delightful Desire Red premium-metallic paint with a contrasting black roof.

An impressive array of standard equipment in my review car included 16” DESIGN alloy wheels, bi-colour roof, chrome roof rails, LED taillights, LED numberplate light, chrome window frames, Park Assist (Self-Park), rear view camera and front and rear parking sensors.

Of course, there are many more features too, with just a small smattering of other features including KESSY (Keyless Entry & Go), alcantara interior with a leatherette dashboard, interior chrome pack, interior ambient lighting, cruise control, multi-function steering wheel and a wireless phone charger, to name but a few.

The only options fitted to my review car were premium metallic paint (€729) and rear privacy glass (€168).

My review car was great to drive, with well-controlled handling, plenty of front-end grip and responsive steering, making it surprisingly entertaining on the road.

In fact, thanks to its excellent driving dynamics, the Arona feels like a car from the class above, and glides superbly over a mixture of different road surfaces.

Producing 115bhp and 200Nm of torque, the smooth-revving 1.0-litre petrol engine is capable of a top speed of 182km/h, and can cover the sprint from 0-100km/h in just 10.0-seconds.

A fuel return of 4.6l/100km is possible on an extra-urban driving cycle, while annual road tax across the entire SEAT Arona range is just €200.

The interior of the Arona is clearly and logically laid out and excellent build quality is evident throughout the cabin.

Seat comfort is top class too, while leg and headroom is impressive, thanks to the tall stance of the car.

There is up to 823-litres of boot space available in the Arona with the rear seats folded flat, and boot access is excellent.

With on-the-road prices starting at just €19,015, the new SEAT Arona has the power and the vision to go the distance.