Seat Arona Review
The Seat Arona is a compact SUV that’s well-equipped, surprisingly spacious, cost-effective and fun to drive.
Published: 15 November 2022
The Seat Arona is one of the best small SUVs you can buy. It might not be the most stylish or the most rugged but it’s excellent value for money, enjoyable to drive and gives you a lot of interior space for such a compact car.
- Lots of equipment as standard
- Feels roomy inside
- Fuel-efficient engines
- No hybrid or electric options
- Some rivals are more comfortable
- Low driving position
Dashboard & tech
You don’t have to go for a high-spec version of the Arona to get yourself a good standard of tech, because even the earliest, entry-level (SE) models have a 6.5-inch colour touchscreen, DAB digital radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The screen is a bit small by today’s standards, but it covers the essentials and is easy to use on the move. Higher-spec models have an 8-inch touchscreen with sat nav and a wireless phone charger.
That was until the Arona was updated in 2021, when the SE was upgraded to an 8.25-inch touchscreen, with the other models having an even larger, 9.2-inch touchscreen. In both cases, the touchscreen is mounted higher up the dashboard, making it easier to see while driving.
You should be able to find a good driving position in the Arona because all versions have a height-adjustable driver’s seat and a steering wheel that adjusts for height and reach. You sit slightly higher than you would do in a regular hatchback, although not as high as in some of the Arona’s rivals. So if you’re after the kind of commanding driving position you get with some compact SUVs you might be a bit disappointed. There’s a good view out of the front, but it’s worth noting that rear parking sensors aren’t fitted to the base model.
The interior quality of the Arona is similar to equivalent Volkswagen models. It helps that all models have leather trim on the steering wheel, gear knob and handbrake, so the bits you come into contact with most often feel upmarket. Post-2021 versions look and feel better still, thanks to some more appealing trim and design details, although they still don’t give you quite the same feelgood factor as the interior of an Audi or BMW small SUV.
Sign up for exclusive offers & advice
Receive regular car-buying tips, selling advice and more, straight to your inbox.
Practicality & boot space
Because you sit lower in the Arona, the tall dimensions mean you’re left with more headroom than in many small SUVs. So much so that you could return from a fancy dress party without removing your creative headwear. (Top hat enthusiasts should form an orderly queue.)
We, ahem, tip our hats to Seat for squeezing so much interior space into a car that’s barely any larger than the Ibiza hatchback. Teenage children are unlikely to complain about the headroom and legroom in the back, but child number three might moan a little if forced to spend too much time in the middle seat, which (as in most rival cars) is rather narrow and hard.
The front door pockets are large enough to take a large bottle of water, the glovebox is of a good size and you get a pair of cupholders between the front seats. There are two large door pockets in the back, but only high-spec models have pockets on the backs of the front seats. There are no cupholders in the back, but that’s true of most small SUVs.
High-spec models have a useful storage pack, including a front centre armrest and a drawer under the front passenger seat.
A 400-litre boot is pretty good for a car of this size and it’s enough for three medium suitcases or a pushchair and a few bags of shopping. For context, it’s more boot space than you find in either the Ford Focus or the Volkswagen Golf (and 55 litres more than you have in a Seat Ibiza).
Some rivals, such as the Renault Captur, have a forwards/backwards sliding rear bench, which means you can choose between maximum rear legroom or a larger boot, but the Arona doesn’t offer this flexibility.
The back seats can be folded down to turn those 400 litres of boot space into 823 litres of luggage space, which is less than the 1,395 litres you’ll find in the Skoda Kamiq. The back seats split 60/40 on all models, which means you can carry one or two passengers and still have room for a longer load.
All versions have a two-part boot floor, so you can drop the top part down for maximum space or leave it in its highest setting to create a flat load area when the rear seats are folded down (there’s a step up to the folded seats otherwise).
With the exception of the Ford Puma, few small SUVs are genuinely fun to drive, but the Seat Arona is better than most. The low driving position helps, as does the so-called ‘drive profile’ you get with some models. This gives you the option of four driving modes: normal, sport, eco and individual, each one making small adjustments to the steering and throttle, plus gear shifts on DSG models. You’ll probably choose eco on a long motorway run, but most people tend to leave it in normal.
The penalty for the sportier feel is that the Arona isn’t as comfortable as, say, the Citroen C3 Aircross. It’s never uncomfortable – you won’t need to add the number of a chiropractor to your favourites – but you get a bit more bumpiness over bad roads. This is especially true of the FR Sport and Xperience Lux models, which have 18-inch alloy wheels with comparatively low-profile tyres that give you a bit less cushioning.
There are no hybrid or electric versions of the Seat Arona, so you’re left with a straight choice of petrol and diesel engines. The diesel option was removed as part of the 2021 update, leaving a pair of petrol engines. Not that you need a diesel, because the 1.0 and 1.5-litre turbocharged engines offer a terrific blend of performance and economy.
The 1.0-litre TSI petrol has a characterful engine but settles down to a quiet hum on a motorway. The 1.5-litre TSI petrol is less tuneful, but you might appreciate the extra performance, especially when you’re carrying four passengers and their luggage. Don’t dismiss the old TDI diesel engines, because these are ideal for long-distance commuting and motorway driving.
All versions are front-wheel drive, so look elsewhere if you’re after a small SUV with four-wheel drive. Something like the Hyundai Kona, the Suzuki Vitara or the Skoda Karoq could fit the bill, without breaking the bank. Depending on the engine, the Arona will have a six-speed manual gearbox or a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox. For ease of driving, especially in the city, choose the smooth DSG.
Fuel economy & CO2 emissions
It might cost more for a tank of fuel, but a diesel engine still makes a lot of sense if you cover a lot of miles for work. For example, the old 1.6-litre TDI engine gives an official 50.4mpg to 58.9mpg, depending on the size of the alloy wheels and gearbox. As a basic rule, the manual gearbox is around 5mpg more economical than the DSG.
Fuel economy from the petrol engines ranges from an official 44.1mpg to 53.3mpg for the 1.0-litre TSI and 42.8mpg to 47.9mpg for the 1.5-litre TSI.
With carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions for diesel of 125g/km to 138g/km and 124g/km to 142g/km for petrol, you’ll pay a flat rate of £165 for VED (car tax) from the second year.
Value for money
With such a long list of equipment included as standard, the low running costs and the feeling of space, the Seat Arona offers excellent value for money. This is especially true of the post-2021 Arona, which looks more stylish and has a more impressive infotainment system.
Reliability & Warranty
Seat occupied a mid-table position in the J.D. Power 2019 UK Vehicle Dependability Study, which suggested there’s room for improvement. On the plus side, the Arona uses tried and tested parts from other cars within the Volkswagen Group, including Skoda, which finished second in the study.
The Arona comes with a three-year/60,000-mile warranty, which is the norm for most rivals but short of the five-year cover you get with the Hyundai Kona and seven-year warranty you get with the Kia Stonic.
The Seat Arona was awarded the maximum five-star rating when it was tested by safety experts Euro NCAP in 2017 and the same when it was retested in 2022.
All Aronas have multiple airbags, tyre pressure monitoring, a pair of Isofix points in the back, hill-hold assist and emergency city braking, while Xcellence and Xcellence Lux models have blind-spot detection. A lane-keeping-assist system is an option for the top three trim levels when new, but the Arona still lacks some of the advanced driver assistance systems you’ll find on some rivals.
Trims & Engines
You can choose from seven different trim levels, but it’s simpler to categorise them into three groups. SE is the entry-level model, but is also available as SE Technology and SE Technology Lux. Then there’s the sporty FR, which is also available as FR Sport. Finally, there’s the plush Xcellence and the even more lavish Xcellence Lux.
Even the SE trim covers the essentials plus a few desirable extras, so it all comes down to whether you want to spend a bit more on some sporty spice or luxury goodness.
One of the petrol engines is likely to work for you. The entry-level 94bhp 1.0-litre TSI is ideal for nipping into town or for tackling the school run, but it won’t run out of puff on a long journey. The 109bhp version is better for overtaking and motorway jaunts and is almost as economical as the lower-powered version. The same is true of the 1.5-litre petrol engine, which is available on the FR and FR Sport trim levels.
The old 1.6-litre TDI diesel offers a great blend of performance and fuel economy, making it ideal for you if you’ve got a long commute or you need to carry three or four passengers.
How buying a Cazoo car works
Find your perfect car
Browse our range of high-quality and great value used cars.
Choose how to pay
Buy outright or apply for car finance – all entirely online.
Choose delivery or collection
Delivery or collection at a time to suit you, 7 days a week.
Up to 7 days to decide
Enjoy your car for up to a week and get a full refund if you change your mind.