Seat is the ‘fun one’ in the VW group line-up, aimed at a more youthful buyer than sober offerings from Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda.
With names conjuring up sun-kissed locations – think Leon, Ibiza, Toledo and Ateca – sharp styling and competitive pricing, Seat tries to add a little Spanish flair to its German-engineered platforms.
The latest Mediterranean location to find itself immortalised in chrome lettering is Arona, a region of southern Tenerife home to holiday haven Los Christianos.
Read more: Review: Hyundai Kona
The Arona is Seat’s first compact SUV, but looks wise it’s not just the larger Ateca in miniature. It bears more resemblance to a beefed-up Ibiza with chunky plastic trim and various off-road design cues.
The demonstrator I drove was the entry-level specification SE model. And by entry level, I mean entry level. I was surprised to read in the specification that not a single optional extra was fitted, even the metallic red paint and contrast roof colour included in the car’s £16,555 list price.
Seat Arona SE
Engine: 1.0-litre, three-
cylinder, turbo petrol
Transmission: Five-speed manual
Top speed: 107mph
0-62mph: 11.2 seconds
CO2 emissions: 111g/km
The 1.0-litre TSI engine, paired with the manual gearbox is the least expensive drivetrain option as well so, refreshingly, we were sent the least expensive Arona money can buy – a contrast to the usual optioned-to-the-hilt press demonstrators.
Without the distraction of huge infotainment screens, seats that would be at home in an upmarket cinema and race-ready alloy wheels, it was easy to focus on the important bits of the car.
Firstly, the little three-cylinder engine is a peach. This isn’t a car geared up for performance, but with 89 horsepower, a light gearbox and peak power arriving nice and early it’s nippy enough and makes a great noise.
That noise does roughen up a bit if you push it too close to the 6,000rpm red line, however.
Like its B-segment stablemate the Ibiza, the Arona handles very well for its class. There’s very little body roll – something you can’t say for many of its direct competitors – and the steering is well-weighted and precise in city situations, if a little light at higher speeds for my liking.
The interior is basic – as befits an entry-level car – but it feels well put together, and I like Seat’s sharp-edged styling. Despite having reservations about the need for small two-wheel-drive SUVs as a class, I have to admit that the comfortable ride and surprisingly big 400-litre boot make the Arona an appealing prospect, particularly at this price point.
The 16k price tag puts it up against strong offerings from Kia, in the Stonic, and Hyundai’s Kona.
Like those cars, it’s better looking than the more established Ford Ecosport and Vauxhall’s frumpy-looking Crossland and less off-the-wall than Nissan’s trailblazing Juke.
The Arona ought to strike a chord with buyers looking for something a bit more grown-up than a B-segment hatch, who still like a little fun in the sun.