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Engine options, speed, acceleration and refinement

Volkswagen’s direct-injection 1.0-litre TSI petrol engine doesn’t lend the Arona what you might typically describe as ‘performance’, but it spins smoothly and its three cylinders provide enough muscle for it to be considered fit for purpose.

In fact, it’s a pleasant-sounding and nicely buoyant powerplant – a hallmark of tri-cylinder engines – so long as you never ask too much of it.

Up steep hills, the TSI engine feels particularly asthmatic, and that’s with just the driver on board

Thankfully, peak torque of 129lb ft arrives satisfactorily low, at 2000rpm, allowing you to short-shift up through the gears without needing to stray too far towards the 6000rpm redline, where the engine’s timbre becomes noticeably coarse.

The action of the five-speed manual transmission, meanwhile, is neat enough, its lightweight throw feeling neither overly long nor short but never really encouraging the driver to engage with it beyond keeping the engine on the boil.

The big question, of course, is whether you’d be better off with a more powerful variant than the base 1.0-litre Arona.

Our 94bhp test car recorded a 0-60mph time of 10.5sec, which aligns with an official 0-62mph of 11.2sec, and demonstrated respectable flexibility with a 30-70mph time of 10.7sec.

The car is no slouch, then, but some owners may justifiably want for more urgent acceleration.

The more potent, 113bhp 1.0-litre TSI Arona claims 10.0sec to 62mph and also gets a sixth ratio for its manual transmission, or even a seventh if you go for the dual-clutch DSG alternative. Either would be useful if you plan on undertaking longer journeys, although you’ll have to opt for the more expensive FR trim to even get the choice.

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If you can wait, a 1.5-litre petrol engine with 148bhp is also due early next year and should have a transformative effect on a car that weighed just 1145kg when put on our scales.

Aided by that low kerb weight, the Arona stops well, although its over-servoed brakes do grab unexpectedly hard midway through the pedal travel.

Wind noise can also become problematic at motorway speeds, particularly around the base of the A-pillar.