A while back we attended the launch of the all-new SEAT Arona, and having reported on what’s available across the range, we then took the punchy ‘FR Sport’ model out for a blast, and a blast it turned out to be.
For a car that sits in a very busy segment, one that demands more and more from new models before they can be in with a chance of making a name for themselves – the Arona, in FR Sport trim, with the all-new TSi EVO engine, offers almost the right credentials.
With its big brother, the Ateca, being on the market for less than a year now, SEAT have already put their stamp on the crossover map and later this year will launch a larger seven-seat sibling that is yet to be named – confidence in what the Spanish brand can offer, is high.
Ride quality and comfort are paramount on this chassis and SEAT’s signature edgy design features are in place on the Arona, tying it in with the latest Ibiza, Leon and Ateca – SEAT have created the perfect Barcelonan family.
Starting from £20,665 – FR Sport receives full LED headlights, electrically adjustable and heated roof coloured door mirrors, twin exhaust pipes, exclusive flat-bottom FR steering wheel and FR interior details.
SEAT Drive Profile – offering four different driving modes is present with steering response, throttle response and gear shift mode (only DSG models) along with sports suspension, rain-sensing wipers and coming & leaving home lighting.
Finished in an Eclipse Orange/Midnight Black mix on this model tested, Arona FR Sport offers looks that will appeal to all generations and features FR specific front and rear bumpers as well as FR front grill, rear privacy glass and 18-inch alloy wheels.
The elevated driving position gives a feel of safety and security when on the road and will suit city users just perfectly, whilst easily accommodating a weekend escape.
Coming with five-doors and front-wheel-drive only – the Arona faces some stiff competition from the likes of Hyundai’s Kona, Peugeot’s 2008 and the Renault Captur – of which I feel only the Kona can out-style SEAT’s Arona, due to its alternative design which will be marmite to many.
Class-leading load space is offered thanks to a large boot which opens into a lawn-mower absorbing space with the rear seats folded – for a crossover that doesn’t look overly big on the road, it is surprisingly capable of family life.
Inside – both the front and rear offers great comfort with the front seats being suitably supportive – as expected, due to the addition of sports seating in the FR Sport which is finished in black Alcantara with leather bolsters and red stitching.
There isn’t much soft-touch material around the dash meaning the cabin does lack a quality feel, however there isn’t many in this segment and more-so price bracket that ooze cabin quality so what you get is realistic against the monthly payments.
Climate control, ambient colour changeable lighting, ISOFIX child seat anchoring points on the outer rear seating and height adjustable driver and passenger seats all feature with one nice touch being that of the inside pillars and roof lining being trimmed in black cloth.
As said before, the Arona doesn’t look overly big from the outside yet offers plenty of leg-room, but more surprisingly an abundance of head-room inside and like most cars from the more affordable brands, they come packed with technology and the Arona FR Sport is no different.
Featuring an 8-inch touch-screen in-dash, the Arona FR Sport offers navigation, voice recognition, Bluetooth, AM/FM/DAB Radio, SD & USB input all feature alongside FullLink (Mirrorlink, Apple carplay, Android Auto apps) and SEAT are the first to introduce the possibility of Amazon Alexa into your car.
Available with a 1.0TSi, 115PS engine equipped with either a 6-sp manual gearbox or 7-sp auto ‘box, a similar powered 1.6TDi is available while the pinnacle for me is the 1.5TSi EVO – the latter two engines only coming equipped with the 6-sp manual ‘box.
The Volkswagen Audi Group – of which SEAT is a part, is well known for its dual-clutch ‘DSG’ gearboxes and for me, if buying a new VAG car it would be hard to look past this option, however despite giving us an all-new ‘baby performance’ engine, SEAT will not be offering the best ‘box to accompany it – a great shame.
With a respectable 147bhp on tap, this little pocket rocket produces a rather usable 184lb/ft of torque, seeing a top speed upwards of 127mph and a 0-62mph sprint in 8.3 seconds and with a claimed, combined economy of 55.4mpg, on a real world 90-mile drive around the flats of Cambridge saw a sub-40mpg return.
Weighing in at around 1200kg with driver, the Arona FR Sport corners impeccably thanks to the sports suspension and dynamic chassis control, allowing a change of profiles that affect the cars responses from ‘Eco – Normal – Sport – Individual’.
Some may find the ride a tad on the firm side, due to the sporty nature and large wheels – but for me it was confident, fun, exciting, inspiring and highly chuck-able – I never thought a baby SUV could offer such characteristics.
Safety on the SEAT Arona is helped with cruise control, hill-hold control, tiredness recognition, automatic lights and wipers and parking sensors amongst other things I am certain I have forgot.
SEAT’s all-new Arona comes with a three-year, 60,000 mile warranty with attractive monthly payment options, for more on these its best to speak to your local dealer- in conclusion, i’d have one!
Words and Photos: Graham Curry
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