Just as the Ateca did, the Arona borrows sparingly from SUV design archetype.

This is a smart, svelte and sporty-looking car that does without the bluff grille and squared-off wheel arches that you’ll find on certain rivals, and it succeeds very well in a visual sense – both as a crossover hatchback and as a contemporary Seat.

Richard Lane

Road tester
No car in this class is much fun to drive, although the Arona is satisfying to thread along a road and only the Kia Stonic can match it for agility

Unlike some of its opponents, the Volkswagen Group’s Spanish outpost is developing a line-up of appealing cars that hangs together as one, rather than as mutually discrete lines of SUVs and conventional cars – and that’s to be applauded.

The Arona may not have the visual charisma of the likes of the new C3 Aircross or the enduringly quirkiness of the Nissan Juke, but it’s undoubtedly a neat, pretty-looking effort.

It’s also one whose appearance can be tailored to personal preference, with its roof available in a choice of three body-contrasting colours if you want them, and in a total of 68 possible body colours among them in shades such as Eclipse Orange and Mystery Blue, which should distinguish the car very well on the road.

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The Arona is the VW Group’s first crossover to be built on its new supermini model platform – the not so catchily named MQB-A0 architecture. It’s typical of the breed for its transverse front-engined, front-wheel-drive mechanical orientation and its torsion beam-style rear suspension.

We clearly needn’t criticise it for any lack of capability in a class where buyers very rarely choose four-wheel drive anyway and would much rather buy a car with at least some of the presence, convenience and space of an SUV combined with the performance, economy and road manners of a normal car.

And so the Arona is 79mm longer than an Ibiza but also 99mm taller. It offers a driving position that’s 52mm higher than the regular supermini’s, as well as 37mm more front-row head room and a boot that, at 400 litres, is about 15 percent larger.

For those with at least a passing interest in capability, the Arona has 15mm more ground clearance than an Ibiza – or up to 190mm of it, depending on wheel specification.

Buyers can choose from three petrol and two diesel engines, which open for business at 94bhp and range upwards to include the Volkswagen Group’s new 148bhp 1.5-litre TSI EVO motor.

Trim levels start at SE and culminate in Xcellence Lux, but if you want the most sophisticated mechanical specification on your Arona, you should note that only FR Sport cars come with Seat’s Dynamic Chassis Control adaptive dampers. For now, at least, there is no extra-rugged off-road-style version.

For this examination, we elected to keep things simple and test the Arona in affordable form, with Seat’s 94bhp 1.0 TSI three-cylinder petrol engine and in SE Technology trim.

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