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Used SEAT Arona review

The SEAT Arona is a small SUV that first appeared in 2017. It has seating for five, features SEAT’s typical sporty styling cues and features tried-and-tested underpinnings from other VW and SEAT models. The Arona is based on the Ibiza supermini and is ideal for anyone looking to upgrade to something with a higher driving position.

Design

SEAT is the Volkswagen Group’s sporty brand - and all the Spanish firm’s models are designed with purposeful styling. The Arona’s headlights are angular, and the grille is dominated by the SEAT badge. More air intakes and daytime running lights sit beneath, and the rear end has a roof spoiler and equally angular rear lights. 

Every Arona comes with metallic paint (with the option of a different colour for the roof when new), alloy wheels, roof bars and cladding on the wheel arches and at the base of the doors, with higher trims adding rear parking sensors, LED headlights and a reversing camera.  

The Arona’s headlights are angular, and the grille is dominated by the SEAT badge.

What's it like to drive?

The SEAT Arona comes with a choice of petrol and diesel engines. The petrol units kick off with a 1.0-litre turbocharged motor with a couple of power outputs – the ‘95’ version is fine for use in and around town while the ‘115’ engine is better for motorway work.  

There’s also a 1.5-litre petrol motor that’s a lot more perky, plus a 1.6-litre diesel engine, although this was ditched for an all-petrol line-up on the latest cars. 

The Arona is based on the SEAT Ibiza supermini, so it handles well – the body stays composed on twisty roads and the suspension, while firm, manages to deal with most poor road surfaces well. The steering is light, which makes getting into a parking space easier, and that higher driving position gives you a good view of the road. 

The Arona is based on the SEAT Ibiza supermini, so it handles well.

Interior

The great thing about the Arona sharing so much of its parts with its VW, Audi and Skoda siblings is you know everything’s going to be well assembled – and that’s precisely what the interior is.  

You don’t get many soft-touch plastics - that’s typical with many small SUVs. What you do get on most cars is air-con or climate control, a digital radio, Bluetooth, cruise control, auto headlights, a 5.0-inch touchscreen, analogue dials in front of the driver and automatic emergency braking, which detects objects in your path and applies the brakes. 

Higher trims add a larger touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, wireless smartphone charging, auto wipers, digital instruments in front of the driver, blind spot monitoring to tell you if there’s a car where you can’t see it and rear cross-traffic alert – this detects oncoming vehicles when you’re reversing out of a space.  

Some versions also get a leather covering with red stitching on the dashboard fascia, plus highlights on the seats, which help to brighten things up – and most Lux models have an upgraded Beats sound system. 

The steering wheel and driver’s seat adjust for height and both front seats have plenty of leg and headroom. The latter won’t bother anyone in the back, either, although tall adults may grumble a little about legroom (remember, this is a compact SUV). There’s room for a third, centre, rear passenger, although their feet will have to straddle a hump in the floor. 

Practicality

As well as a small tray in front of the gear lever, the Arona’s oddments space extends to a glovebox, decent door bins front and rear and another tray for those in the rear seats. 

The boot lid opens to reveal a good aperture to fit bulky items through and the load area itself is a good size – there’s enough room here to get two or three suitcases in with the seats up.  

Fold the backs (they’re split 60/40) and you can slide in a chest of drawers or a few furniture flat packs. That’s not all – the boot floor has an adjustable height. In its highest setting loads are easier to slide in and out. 

Reliability and running costs

Assessed under the latest, more accurate, Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) fuel economy tests, the 1.0-litre engine can average up to 51.4mpg, while the 1.5 officially averages up to 44.8mpg. The diesel was tested using an older method, but you may be able to eek more than 50mpg out of it in the real world, especially on longer trips. 

SEAT tends to rank in the middle of independent reliability surveys, and service costs can often be spread. Still, the Arona gets a three-year warranty when new, so you might want to consider cinchCare for extended peace of mind. 

What cinch loves

We love the SEAT Arona’s styling and the fact that metallic paint was standard on every car when new – bravo SEAT! We also love the raised driving position its SUV body style gives you, which makes life easier in town when you’re manoeuvring into a space and on country roads, for a better view ahead.  

Every Arona gets 6 airbags, tyre pressure monitoring and Isofix mounting points for child seats as standard – and it was awarded the maximum 5 stars by crash safety experts Euro NCAP. 

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Verdict

Good

Compact SUVs are two a penny-very few are as stylish, well-equipped or spacious as the SEAT Arona. Its great safety rating makes it a prime candidate for young families but it’s also hugely appealing for anyone who craves off-roader styling but doesn’t fancy the idea of a hulking 4x4 body.

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