First impressions often endure, so you might already have formed your own view of the Seat Arona before it became more widely available (and even better value) as a used car. But allow us to influence you with our own first impressions, made at its Autocar road test debut in 2017: the Arona “goes straight to the top of an ever-growing class. No rival balances practicality and panache quite like it,” we concluded.
Part of the reason for its success is that it shares much of its mechanical make-up with the fun and frugal Seat Ibiza supermini, including its engines. A 1.0 TSI petrol kicks off the range with 94bhp, but there is also a 114bhp version that comes with either a sixspeed manual or seven-speed automatic gearbox. Alternatively, you can opt for a 1.5 TSI Evo petrol engine with a very healthy 148bhp, or 1.6-litre diesels in 94bhp and 114bhp forms.
The 1.0 TSI and 1.5 TSI turbo petrol engines return remarkably similar fuel economy, mainly because the 1.5 has cylinder deactivation technology. It works exceptionally well, with the 1.5 officially averaging 55.4mpg. The 1.0 is better but only slightly: the 94bhp version returns 57.6mpg. In 2021, the diesels were dropped from the range, which then consisted of just the 1.0 TSI 95, the 1.0 TSI 110 and the 1.5 TSI 150. A 2021 facelift also ushered in updated styling and a new, larger infotainment system among other changes.
Even so, a pre-facelift entry-level Arona SE can still hold its own, with 17in alloy wheels, cruise control, a DAB radio, a 5.0in infotainment system and automatic emergency braking. An 8.0in infotainment set-up with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are fitted to SE Technology Aronas, as well as rear parking sensors and wireless phone charging. FR gets you brighter LED headlights, sportier styling, climate control and automatic wipers.
This might lead you to think the Arona is an expensive superminisized SUV, but used ones are far from that. Prices start at just under £10,000, which will get you a 2018 SE car with the 1.0 TSI 95 unit. The entry-level 1.6 TDI comes in at around the same money. Even updated 2021 models go for around £17,000 – less than an equivalent Volkswagen T-Cross and Nissan Juke – with pre-facelift cars from that year dipping to around £14,000.