IT has to be said that price lists can be deceptive especially when it comes to cars.
We start with a figure that appears to be the cost, but with the addition of a few options that are obviously viewed as essentials the total has escalated by several hundred or, as is often the case, several thousand.
Some companies have tried to tackle the issue by drastically reducing the number of optional extras available on a car with the Kia brand springing to mind, but the launch of the all-new SEAT Arona takes this philosophy a step further. There are no optional extras - if you want additional kit, you simply step up to the next trim level.
The Arona is the second SUV to emerge from the Spanish marque and follows on the heels of its larger sibling the SEAT Ateca. It's a compact crossover so will compete in the UK's fastest growing segment against opposition such as the Renault Captur, Nissan Juke and indeed the new Kia Stonic.
The Arona is priced from £16,555 and comes in six trim levels called SE, SE Technology, FR, FR Sport, Xcellence and range-topping Xcellence Lux which costs £24,435.
Designed and engineered in Barcelona, the five-door, front-wheel-drive Arona is powered by five engines.
Petrol engines are a 1.0-litre 95ps, 1.0-litre 115ps (with manual or auto gearbox) and 1.5-litre EVO 150ps. If diesel is your fuel preference then the Arona is available with a 1.6-litre 95ps engine (available with both transmissions) or a 1.6-litre 115ps variant.
SEAT is aiming to make the buying process as pain-free as possible so the customer has three choices to make. Simply select the trim, then the engine and finally the colour. Then sit back, relax and wait for the delivery date.
The Arona is a striking looking car with plenty of road presence. It looks athletic with bold lines and sharp creases, a rising waistline, sweeping light clusters, roof rails, a contrast colour roof, tinted windows, smart alloys and model specific design cues such as sporty FR grille, bumpers and interior trim on FR models with more elegant and sophisticated detailing on Xcellence cars.
The interior is richly equipped with all the latest infotainment systems and, depending on trim level, you can expect to find either a five (SE models only) or eight-inch touchscreen, MirrorLink with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, wireless charging, a Beats sound system, sat nav, DAB digital radio, Bluetooth, keyless entry and go, cruise control, heated seats and plenty more besides.
SEAT predicts that the vast majority of Arona buyers will be new to the brand and it also believes the most popular model will be powered by the tiny three-cylinder, 1.0-litre 115ps petrol engine. We tested the FR Sport with that powertrain and six-speed manual gearbox priced at £20,665 and it has lots of all-round appeal.
The cabin is bright and clutter-free and it's easy to get comfortable with ample seat and steering wheel adjustment. There is room for couple of tall adults to travel in the back with good leg, head and shoulder space and the boot is generously sized too with a capacity ranging from 400 litres to 823 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat. There is a double boot floor as standard which reduces the lip at the entrance of the boot which in turn makes loading and unloading awkwardly-shaped or heavy items much simpler.
The Arona could sprint to 62mph from a standing start in 9.8 seconds and topped out at 113mph. According to official figures, it could deliver combined fuel economy of 56.5mpg with carbon emissions of 114g/km.
There was a day when three-cylinder engines were a tad lacking in the firepower department, but not so this unit. It fizzed round town and then when faced with the open road there was sufficient power and zip to push on through the country lanes. The ride was grounded and sure-footed with a little engine noise becoming noticeable at higher speeds. Even on the motorway, the 1.0-litre engine delivered all the power and acceleration needed to help the Arona keep pace with fast-moving traffic.
The elevated driving position results in good all-round visibility and all the dials and readouts are ideally positioned for ease of use. The infotainment set-up is beautifully simple to operate or programme on the move.
Next up was the FR Sport with a 1.5-litre TSI Evo 150ps engine complete with active cylinder deactivation technology that is exclusive to the FR trim. This means the fourth cylinder can be shut down when not needed to improve efficiency.
Once again, the six-speed manual Arona, costing £22,040, delivered a competent performance and the extra power was noticeable when being driven hard on faster roads.
This car could complete the 0-62mph sprint in 8.3 seconds, maxed out at 127mph and delivered combined fuel efficiency of 55.4mpg with CO2 emissions of 115g/km.
And for anyone who likes to sharpen up their driving experience, it's worth noting that FR, FR Sport and the Excellence Lux trims are fitted with SEAT driver profile which offers four different driving modes called Normal, Sport, Eco and Individual that alter the car's driving dynamics.
Euro NCAP has awarded the SEAT Arona the maximum five stars for safety and the car features as standard the likes of Front Assist, multi-collision braking system, stability control, hill hold control and a fatigue recognition system.
All in all, the SEAT Arona is another very welcome arrival into the rather crowded compact SUV segment, but the Spanish marque is not stopping there and has already announced plans for a full-sized seven-seater SUV at the end of this year.