It’s unlikely most owners will peddle the Arona with real enthusiasm on a frequent basis, but the car nevertheless does a lot of things right in the handling department.

Its spring and damper rates are remarkably well judged for UK tarmac, and at typical A-road and B-road speeds, the ride is effortlessly composed and refined for such a small car.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Road test editor
Arona takes the tight hairpins with impressively little body roll and without succumbing to understeer too early

Moreover, even on the standard suspension, body roll is contained in a way that most similarly elevated rivals can’t match, and the steering – pleasingly precise, but over-assisted – weights up well for a car in this class during more committed cornering, even if it remains low on feel most of the time.

However, those hoping for a more practical alternative to the Ford Fiesta and the lithe, fun-loving chassis dynamics such a thing would possess are going to be a touch disappointed.

The Arona may float along a road with impressive nonchalance, corner with admirable accuracy and composure, and change direction well enough, but it does so a little joylessly, which is at odds with other cars in the Seat line-up.

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It means that progress is about taking an almost more mathematical approach to conserving momentum, with more of an emphasis on competence than enjoyment.

Of course, that won’t matter to most buyers, who will be satisfied – and very rightly so – with the Arona’s ability to isolate its occupants from the road in the manner of a larger car while remaining as easy to place and manoeuvre as the supermini that it is.

And, truth be told, the Arona does give the driver a lot more feedback than rivals such as the Captur and C3 Aircross, which feature numbingly light steering optimised for Parisian rat-runs. At the moment, it’s the standout chassis in this class.

This particular model sitting on a passive suspension set-up – coped reasonably well on Millbrook’s tortuous hill route, chiefly because of its accurate steering and body control, which is commendable given the car’s heightened centre of gravity.

With only adequate performance, it rarely feels as though the powertrain is getting the better of the chassis, and the front axle resists understeer well, clinging on gamely under all but the most ruthless provocation.

However, the Arona TSI is not imbued with the sharp, enjoyable dynamics that we know Seat is capable of gifting a car.

It’s competent but dull and, at its limits, the chassis feels awkward rather than entertaining. Like the Ibiza hatchback with which it shares a platform, the steering, for all its accuracy, is over-assisted and inert. 

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