The Seat Arona is the second SUV in the Spanish brand's line-up, alongside the Ateca and Tarraco. It is also the second SEAT model to be built on the Volkswagen Group's MQB A0 modular platform, following the Ibiza. Continuing just-auto/AIC's review of interior design and technology trends, we take a closer look inside this small SUV.

Inside story

Once seated in the slightly lofty position, the eye is drawn to the plastic unadorned expanse of the dashboard, emphasising the car's width if nothing else.  Forward visibility is, however, excellent partly thanks to a wide windscreen and relatively thin A-pillars. Rearward visibility is hampered due to some thick side walls although rear sensors and a camera certainly help with parking.

The chunky HVAC dials on the centre stack beneath the eight-inch touchscreen are easy to opérate and slightly angled toward the driver. Everything on the dash is sensibly laid out and exactly where you expect to find it. Owners can, however, match the interior ambience to suit their mood with an LED ambient interior lighting system.

Measuring 4.18 metres in length, the Arona's deep, square-shaped boot holds 400 litres of luggage with all seats in place, or 1,280 litres with the rear seats folded. A double boot floor adds to the storage space, creating a flat load floor when the rear seats are folded down. The 60/40 rear seats can be flipped forward by pressing a button on the shoulder of each side of the seating area. Unlike the Ateca, there are no handles in the boot area to flip forward the seats. The storage pack fitted to our Excellence trimmed model includes a useful small tray under the driver's seat that flips down to store oddments.

In the seating department, Orgad blue cloth features in SE and SE Technology models; Nora Black FR cloth for FR grade; black Microsuede for the FR Sport; Titan black cloth with contrast stitching for Xcellence; and Titan black Microsuede for the Xcellence Lux. In the back, there are surprisingly no vents, centre armrests or cupholders.  

Infotainment and connectivity

Arona drivers and passengers can get Apple/Android connectivity through the car's infotainment system. As with most centre mount touchscreens, it is a little fiddly at first to work your way around, but you soon get used to it.

The driver's digital display is an interactive, customisable pixel-dense digital instrumentation cluster allowing drivers to reconfigure the view from classic information found on analogue dials, such as speedometer and tachometer, to full colour maps and navigation.

All versions of the Arona except entry-level SE grade come as standard with Connectivity Pack Plus. This covers all bases in terms of connectivity and seamless integration of personal devices. The pack equips the car with the carmaker's Media System Plus, with a touchscreen and proximity sensor. There's also a navigation system with 3D mapping and voice recognition, plus smartphone mirroring.

Additional features include a deep wireless charger, GSM antenna, two USB ports, a pair of SD card slots and, for good measure, an Aux-in socket.

All models have a six-speaker audio package with FM/AM radio and DAB reception, plus Bluetooth for audio streaming and hands-free phone use. The Beats sound system is standard on Arona SE Technology Lux. It comprises a digital signal processor, six speakers, a 300W amplifier and a high-end subwoofer.

Advanced driver assistance system

The Arona bristles with ADAS technologies, including parking assistance, tiredness recognition system and front assist. The latter uses a radar sensor mounted on the front of the car to constantly monitor the distance between it and the vehicle ahead. If it calculates that there is a risk of a collision, it will trigger a warning light and sound to alert the driver. If the driver then fails to apply the brakes firmly enough to avoid an impact, the system will generate the necessary extra braking force. In the event of the driver failing to take any action in response to the warnings, front assist will automatically apply emergency braking.

Arona is also equipped with autonomous emergency braking (AEB), adaptive cruise control, rear cross-traffic alert and blind-spot detection system.

On the road

Seven trim levels are available on this small urban cossover, starting with the SE, rising to the SE Technology, SE Technology Lux, FR, FR Sport, Xcellence and Xcellence Lux. The notable interior design and technology features of our Xcellence press review car include storage pack, keyless entry and go, blind spot detection, rear cross traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, climate control air conditioning and rain-sensing wipers. The top-drawer Xcellence Lux adds front parking sensors, rearview camera, park assist, microsuede upholstery and SEAT Drive Profile with four driving modes. SEAT says it has simplified the buying process by eliminating the options list – even metallic paint comes as standard on all Arona models.

The Drive Profile, standard on FR, FR Sport and Xcellence Lux versions of the Arona, allows the driver to select between Comfort, Eco and Sport modes, plus a fourth Individual setting that lets them combine their preferred elements from the other three. Each mode adapts the responsiveness of the steering, throttle and gearbox to suit different driving scenarios and driver preferences.

Arona is available with three petrol engine options and a turbodiesel. The 1.0 TSI three-cylinder turbo petrol unit is available with outputs of 95 or 115 PS, the latter with the option of seven-speed DSG automatic transmission. FR versions can be specified with SEAT's 1.5 TSI EVO unit. The 1.6 TDI is offered with 95 PS and six-speed manual transmission or DSG Auto. Our 1.0 TSI petrol mated to a manual gearbox returned an average of 46.2 mpg.

The Arona is designed, engineered and built in Barcelona at SEAT's Martorell plant. Its rivals include the Renault Captur, VW T-Cross and Skoda Kamiq.