WHEN it comes to choosing a new car first impressions count for a lot.
Potential customers definitely have to be over rather than under whelmed when they get up close and personal with the model they're thinking of spending their hard earned cash on.
And my first impressions of the latest Arona from SEAT, with its stylish new look and vastly improved interior were definitely positive.
Altering the look of any best selling car is always tricky. Too many drastic changes and you risk alienating existing customers who intend to come back for more. Too many minor changes and the car is not refreshed enough to boost sales amongst potential new buyers.
But with the new Arona SEAT seems to have pitched it just right.
The latest generation is obviously an Arona, but one that now looks more modern, more striking and definitely more appealing.
Four years after it was first introduced and having recorded more than 350,000 sales worldwide the latest generation now comes with a more rugged persona.
A more dramatic grille, the addition of a silver front bumper and new look and re-positioned fog lamps give this SUV a more macho image while at the back there‘s a new spoiler and a new diffuser.
The name Arona now appears in large letters on the lower part of the tailgate but now it's in a refreshing handwritten style.
With its silver roof rails and contrasting roof colour - with a choice of three different hues - the Arona is certainly eye catching.
Its high stance ensures there's good al round visibility while making entry and exit easy.
A refreshed interior means a new-look soft-feel dashboard with large centre set touch screen at just the right height to be easily visible yet not obtrusive.
Red surrounds on the dashboard air vents all add to the more modern appearance of the interior while brushed metal panelling on the dashboard and doors matching that of the steering wheel arms lighten the feel of the cabin.
The FR version driven here was powered by the VW Group's proven three-cylinder, 1.0-litre engine turning out 110bhp.
Mated to one of the smoothest six-speed manual boxes around today it's an engine that is lively rather than fast but always delivers and is surprisingly quiet.
I did find, however, that occasionally when cold I had to ride the clutch when changing gear to avoid giving the impression of being a learner driver lurching down the road, although to be fair the car had only recorded a few hundred miles.
A button near the gear shift allows you to alter the driving mode with a choice of eco, normal, sport and individual settings to select from.
The digital cockpit allows you to display a digital speed readout which is useful as the relatively small analogue dial is "busy" - going from zero to 140 mph - and is therefore not quick to read at a glance. Another a bonus is a hill-holder clutch to ensure you don't roll back when pulling away on inclines.
True to SEAT's sporting nature the Arona comes with firm but comfortable seats with good side bolsters to hold you in place on fast bends.
There's generous room for five adults and a two-thirds/one third split rear seat back helps when there's need to boost the 400 litre capacity of the boot.