By Patrick James on 2019-02-03 - The author has been a motoring writer for more than 16 years. Formerly motoring editor at the Coventry Telegraph, he now produces motoring copy, on new car launches and road tests on a freelance basis.
SEAT Arona FR 1.0
THE small SUV/crossover sector is now awash with excellent products, so it was with typical SEAT panache that the Arona joined the sales battle.
The Arona is the second SUV in SEAT's line-up, joining the larger Ateca but it's the first SEAT model in the fast-expanding compact crossover segment - part of the market that's grown four-fold since 2015 and is based on the Ibiza.
Sportier styling is part of the DNA of SEAT in the wider VW group and its sharp sculpted lines and creases remain.
Light clusters are neat and cat-like, sitting above a deep air scoop. This FR model offers styling points like exclusive rear bumper and front grille designs, sports seats, black interior detailing and dark-tinted rear windows.
Despite its size, the commanding driving position gives the feeling of driving a larger vehicle. It is also well equipped with metallic paint as standard across the range.
It offers plenty for the money with even the entry SE offering smart 17-inch alloys, bi-colour roof/body, hill hold control and air conditioning, double boot floor and automatic headlights.
Move to SE Technology with navigation, smartphone integration, wireless charger, CD player and additional connectivity ports, plus rear parking sensors
The FR grade comes with exclusive SEAT Drive Profile with four driving modes, climate control air conditioning, chrome roof rails and rain-sensing wipers.
The FR Sport, XCELLENCE and XCELLENCE Lux add even more bells and whistles.
The interior mirrors the sporty image of the exterior, underpinned by VW quality to fixtures and fittings. Everything feel well engineered and well screwed together.
Soft touch finish is garnished with aluminium inserts while dials and stalks are logical and easy to use.
The centre screen is the brain of the car where infotainment and connectivity are controlled via knobs or the multi-function steering wheel.
They control built-in sat nav, a DAB radio, wireless phone charging and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring.
It cannot be denied that a compact vehicle of this nature has to make compromises with space. Even so, most people have sufficient head and legroom in the front, the rear is cramped, especially for those six footers.
However, boot space is good with 400 litres increasing to 823 litres with rear seats folded to the top of seatbacks and 1,280 litres when loaded to the roof.
On the road, the one litre petrol unit and handling doesn't disappoint with excellent acceleration, plenty of torque and decent economy to boot.
Typically of a three-pot petrol engine, it delivers a throaty roar when pushed, with drive coming through a slick six-speed box.
It has plenty of punch, hitting 60mph in around 9.5 seconds and on to a top speed of 113mpg. The steering is responsive and the handling surprisingly sporty, while the ride is firm but not harsh.
It feels equally at home in town or on the open road.
SEAT Arona FR 1.0 TSI
Mechanical: 115ps, 999cc, 3cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via five-speed gearbox
0-62mph: 9.8 seconds
Combined MPG: 56.5
Insurance Group: 18
C02 emissions: 114g/km
Bik rating: 23%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles
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