SEAT Arona FR 1.0

TSI

SEAT Arona, front static
SEAT Arona, front action 1
SEAT Arona, front action 2
SEAT Arona, side action
SEAT Arona, rear action
SEAT Arona, rear seats
SEAT Arona, front seats
SEAT Arona, dashboard
SEAT Arona, boot

IT will come as no surprise that car makers pile on the extras when they put one of their babies out for evaluation that might entice readers to buy one.

The add-ons don't often reach the near £16,000 asked of Bentley for a better sound system (good but not good) but £995 for electrical adjustment of the front seats of an Audi are everyday expectations.

And don't even think about the hundreds demanded for any paint choice apart from the single colour offered at no extra on the huge majority of popular cars at the moment.

Which brings us neatly to the SEAT Arona. With non-metallic paint this car would cost £21,245. With any of the several metallics offered the cost is... £21,245. In other words, the same.

And with all the other extras the car you see here costs... £21,245. Can't remember when that's happened before.

It's not as though the Arona is hair shirt skimpy in standard form, with the FR version enjoying a fine sat nav system, full LED headlights, dual zone climate control and cruise control, along with 17in alloys, sports seats and steering wheel and a firmer ride for a more engaging drive.

In the end I'd have been happy with the softer suspension of a lesser version and missed the reversing camera and heated seats that the poshest Arona brings, but that just makes me a big softie. Standard spec is just fine, really.

Whichever Arona you end up with, it will share the same depth of development that all VW Group cars go through (and costs the billions of Euros some others don't have) and that results in cars that simply.. work.

This translates into a gearchange so lightly precise you swap cogs for the pleasure of doing so and steering so smooth it makes town work a relaxing process.

Then there's the little engine that never sounds strained as it provides unexpected levels of performance from its three cylinders, while showing an encouraging 49.4mpg on the (yes, typically clear) dash readout. That's the sort of figure that makes the diesel version an unlikely recommendation.

The FR spec brings four drive modes, from dull and economical to sportily reactive to the throttle. I found normal did the job just fine.

Whichever engine does the work it will be pulling a modestly-sized SUV with enough room for a quartet of adults (five at a pinch) and a regularly sized boot that provides 400 litres of space with the rear seat in use and 823 litres with it folded down.

This practicality extends to a dashboard that keeps enough switches to stay easy to use, rather than relying on finger stabs of a touchscreen that might feel more modern (and stylish looking) but simply doesn't work as well in the moving cabin of a car.

FAST FACTS

SEAT Arona FR 1.0 TSI

Price: £21,245

Mechanical: 113bhp, 999cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 118mph

0-62mph: 9.8 seconds

Combined MPG: 43.5-47.9

Insurance Group: 12

C02 emissions: 114g/km

Bik rating: 27%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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