5.6.2018Seat Arona 1.5 TSI review
The Arona is set to prove extremely important to Seat, with the compact crossover market proving big business. The ideal of a tall supermini might not get everyone's vote, but there are certainly plenty of buyers who like the idea. Having tested the Arona on its UK launch, here we get the chance to test it more thoroughly - this time with the 1.5 TSI Evo petrol engine.
Review by Chris Lilly
The 1.5 TSI Evo petrol engine installed in this Arona is the most potent unit in the line-up. Putting out 150 hp, the compact Seat ha splenty of power available to propel a fairly lightweight body. As such, performance - while not exillerating - can still be described as brisk, with a 0-62 mph time of 8.3 seconds and a top speed of 127 mph available. Here, power is put to the front wheels through a six-speed manual transmission which does little to numb the performance on offer. As a package, the Arona isn't going to get sports car enthusiasts off their seats, but there's plenty of pace available for those that want to regularly load the Seat up. It's an eager car to drive, with the Arona proving up to the task of a hefty shove of the right foot. The engine behaves a little like a diesel with plenty of torque low-down the rev range. It allows drivers to be slightly lazy with the gears when needs be, but the Seat responds best when driven properly. It's surprisingly engaging, and the engne wil disapoint few with its performance.
Although the Arona has SUV-lite styling, the car is very much intended for road use. As such, the Seat's on-road manners are excellent, and in some regards better than the excellent Ibiza's. It is in terms of outright comfort that the Arona wins out, with the increased suspension travel offering a more pillowy ride than the conventional supermini. However, the Ibiza wins out on the most part for this reviewer, but that's an example of how good the Ibiza is to drive and no poor reflection on the Arona's qualities. It's an agile car to drive, ideally suited for urban work with a four-square footprint and short overhangs cobining with a tall-ish ride height. The suspension is stiff enough to prevent the Arona from leaning unduely around corners, but supple enough to soak up punishment from poor road surfaces. Steering is light but precise enough, and it proves an easy car to pilot around tight car parks for example.
Fitting in nicely with the rest of the Seat range, the Arona is a well-designed model. Youthful but without being too flash or overly designed, the Arona is clearly styled to stand out in a crowded marketplace. It works pretty well, and the design doesn't detract from interior practicality either. It's as spacious inside as a decent small hatchback, with boot space easliy up to the task of dealing with day-to-day chores such as school bags or a weekly food shop. Occupants benefit from increased headroom and will sit pretty comfortably in the rear. It's by no means a lage car, but then that's not really the point of the Arona.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
Don't climb aboard the Arona expecting to be wowed by the cabin. It's a nice enough affair, with enough about the design to lift it from being drab - but it hardly matches the style of the Arona's exterior. Instead, owners will get a well-laid out dashboard, with a large and high-qualty infortianment system housing most of the car's comands. The steering wheel is a good size and it's easy for drivers to settle into a comfortable driving postion, whilst the gear stick falls easily to hand too. The cabin is very VW Group - sensible, well made, and logically thought out. The materials used are good for a car in this class, with only the lowest surfaces featuring some hard plastics. Seats up front don't offer agrat deal of lateral support, but then few will be really flinging the Arona through a series of bends to test that statement. The pews do prove comfortable enough to deal with long journeys.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
The Arona has good fuel economy figures largely across the board, with the 1.6 TDI diesel quoted as good as 70 MPG. The 1.5 TSI Evo petrol tested is one of the worst in the range in terms of fuel economy, but still performs very well. Official stats include a fuel economy of 55.4 MPG and CO2 emissions of 115 g/km. In real-world conditions, the trip computer displayed 46.2 MPG after more than 430 miles of driving, and I saw averages on some trips in the low-50s without trying. Having tested the engine in other models, it proves just as effective in the Arona, able to blend performance and economy.
The 1.5 TSI Evo engine is one of the greenest units in the Seat range, as it comes with cylinder deactivation technology. When not under load, the engine is able to shut down two of its four cylinders, improving fuel economy and emissions. It does this very smoothly, and you will tend to see a messagein the instrument panel telling you that it's happened when on the motorway or driving downhill. The model tested was fittd with Seat Drive Profile, whicl includes an Eco option. This lessens throttle response to help with economy. There is also an ecotrainer built into th einfotainment system with coaching available for the driver. According to our calculations, the model tested has a Next Green Car Rating of 38.
The Arona range comes pretty well equipped across the board, with even entry level SE trim coming with 17-inch alloys, LED lights, leather steering wheel, handbrake, and gearstick electric windows, crusie control, automatic headlights, DAB radio, 5-inch colour touchscren system, and bi-colour roof. The FR model tested adds sportier styling with different alloys, full LED headlights, 8-inch touchscreen system with navigation, smartphone connectivity, wireless phone charger, rear privacy glass, front sports seats, drive mode select, automatic wipers, and dual-zone climate control.
The compact crossover market is a fiercely competitive one, but Seat has a good champion in its corner in the shape of the Arona. The Seat drives well, returns good fuel economy, and has plenty of pace. As a relatively practical crossover, with eye-catching style, the Arona is one of the best in its class.
Model tested: Seat Arona FR 1.5 TSI Evo manual
Body-style: Compact crossover
Engine / CO2: 1.5 litre petrol / 115 g/km
On-road price: Price as tested £21,270
Warranty: Three years / 60,000 miles
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 3.5 Stars