This engine is reserved for higher trim levels of FR and above, commanding roughly a £1400 premium over the 1.0-litre 115PS FR, which Seat expects to be the best seller. On paper, it isn’t far off the smaller engine’s combined fuel economy figures, thanks to cylinder deactivation, which allows two of the four cylinders to be effectively shut off when running at light throttle loads. The change over to running on two cylinders is imperceptible, with a message in the driver information display being your only clue as to what mode the engine is running in.
When it’s not saving fuel, the 148bhp engine makes light work of motivating the 1222kg Arona; 0-62mph is dealt with in 8.3 seconds and the top speed is 127mph. But, what’s most impressive is the wide spread of torque it has, which allows you to run in a higher gear without compromising driveability. It’s like driving a diesel but without the clatter and din.
If you do decide to explore the higher rev ranges, the engine responds quickly and the slick, six-speed box is very satisfying to use (more so than the five-speed gearbox found in lesser Aronas). The engine can get a little boomy in the mid range, but it has a nice exhaust note nearer to the red line. At motorway speeds, the engine is very quiet, with the engine spinning away at 2,500rpm in sixth.
You can choose between four different driving modes to tailor the response of the steering and throttle to suit your mood. The steering in normal is quite light, but sport mode alters the weighting to make it feel more sporty. The ride in FR spec is a little firm to fit with its higher performance billing, but it doesn’t come at the detriment of comfort because it deals with potholes and rough roads well, without jostling anyone in the car too much.