MAKING a mark in the ever-growing crossover sector is never easy with manufacturers fiercely vying for sales.
But one company that does very well in this area is SEAT and the Arona is another fine example of just why. And to add to its appeal, the car has just undergone a mid-generation facelift with some extra tech and improved design cues being introduced.
With its punchy, yet efficient engine, along with great handling and distinctive styling, the Spanish model draws on all the expertise from its parent VW Group, yet keeps its prices very attractive for customers along the way.
We tested the five-door Arona powered by a three-cylinder, 1.0-litre petrol engine delivering 110ps and 200Nm of torque.
Costing £23,350, it could complete the 0-62mph dash in a very respectable 10.6 seconds and topped out at 118mph while achieving a combined 53.3mpg with carbon emissions of 121g/km.
Despite its three-pot engine, the Arona is quick off the mark and offers ample power when faced with the open road. It's nicely assured through twisting lanes and can cruise with ease at 70mph on motorways. The engine does get a little louder when pushed hard but it still copes well.
And with its elevated seating position there is excellent all-round driver visibility, which makes the Arona ideal for city motoring too with cars, pedestrians and cyclists darting out from all angles.
The flat-bottomed steering wheel - carrying the FR logo - is beautifully weighted with ample driver feedback and there are drive modes to flick through that alter the performance and reactions of the car. These are called Eco, Normal, Sport and Individual. No prizes for guessing which is the most fun when unleashed on the quieter B roads.
Our Arona FR looked dynamic in its design - it is one of the areas where SEAT truly excels with its own individual styling. Eye-catching features include a distinctive front grille, dark tinted rear windows, twin tail pipes, chrome roof rails and 17-inch Dynamic alloy wheels.
The interior is spacious and well equipped with front sports seats, leather coverings to the steering wheel, gear stick and handbrake, dual zone climate control, a soft-touch dashboard, illuminated red air vents and interior ambient lighting.
Creature comforts are plentiful too with a 9.2-inch colour infotainment system with Bluetooth audio streaming, sat nav, DAB digital radio, Wireless Full Link smartphone connectivity for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a six-speaker sound system and lots more besides.
All the on-board tech is very simple to operate on the fly and the separate climate control panel is another plus point. It feels like the Arona has been designed to offer all the little luxuries we expect these days but without over-complicating everything in the process. And that means the driver is less distracted and can concentrate on the important job in hand - driving.
There is room for a couple of passengers in the back of the Arona if the front seats are not pushed too far back. Add a third and it gets a little too cosy, but it would be ideal for three children to travel in comfort.
The boot can swallow 400 litres of kit - a limit that is increased to 823 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat.
And there are plenty of storage options throughout the cabin too, including a glovebox, front and rear door bins, a wireless charging pad, quite shallow front cup holders that are not that practical and a non-slip tray.