The small SUV mar­ket bat­tle is hot­ting up again. Last week SEAT’S new Arona com­pact cross­over landed on our fore­courts. Can it match the com­pe­ti­tion?

Belfast Telegraph - NI Carfinder - - Front Page - CARFINDER PRE­VIEW BY PAUL CON­NOLLY

WHAT’S NEW? SEAT’S new Arona small SUV, that’s what. It’s a ri­val to the likes of the Nis­san Juke, Hyundai Kona, Kia Stonic and Re­nault Cap­tur.

As is usual in the in­dus­try, the car has ac­tu­ally been avail­able to or­der for some weeks, but now you can prop­erly climb into one and check it out for your­self in your lo­cal dealer. WHAT’S IT LIKE? The Arona uses the plat­form from the cur­rent Ibiza, adding in the high-driv­ing po­si­tion and other good­ies that have made com­pact crossovers so sud­denly de­sir­able.

But what do you get for your money, apart from a smaller ver­sion of the im­pres­sive SEAT Ateca SUV?

Well, you get a rather nice slice of the com­pact cross­over sta­tus sym­bol: a funky look­ing, mod­ern, well-de­signed and well-built small SUV.

It’s more than just a shrunken Ateca; the very lat­est Ibiza tech­nol­ogy has been packed on board so it is if any­thing slightly more mod­ern.

SPACE AND KERB AP­PEAL First off, though, don’t let the com­par­i­son with the Ibiza fool you. The Arona – it’s named af­ter a re­gion of Tener­ife around Playa de las Amer­i­cas, by the way - is roomier than you might ex­pect.

Oc­cu­pant head­room is good front and rear, and the boot has a de­cent 400-litre stor­age ca­pac­ity, which rises to 823-litres when the rear seats are laid flat.

Par­ents in par­tic­u­lar will be pleased with the cub­by­holes and other stor­age op­tions dot­ted around the cabin.

It’s an at­trac­tive-look­ing car that comes in a range of bright new colours - in­clud­ing De­sire Red and Mys­tery Blue – and up to 30 dif­fer­ent com­bi­na­tions for con­trast­ing fin­ishes on the lower body and roof and pil­lars. (Roof colours are black, grey and or­ange).

UN­DER THE BON­NET The Arona comes at launch with a good choice of en­gines, start­ing off with the en­try-level 1.0-litre turbo petrol unit in ei­ther 94 or 114 bhp guises, mated to a choice of gear­boxes, all send­ing power to the front wheels only.

Af­ter this, there are eco­nom­i­cal diesel choices and a pow­er­ful 148bhp 1.5-litre petrol turbo only avail­able in sporty Fr-spec cars.

All the en­gines in the range fea­ture di­rect in­jec­tion, tur­bocharg­ing and stop-start tech­nol­ogy.

The trim choice is wide; six to be pre­cise, dove­tail­ing with other SEAT models, with SE, FR and Xcellence, but, with each level ex­panded into ad­di­tional ver­sions that add in more equip­ment: SE Tech­nol­ogy, FR Sport and Xcellence Lux.

It lacks sheer range of models of the likes of the Nis­san Juke, but makes up for this with its level of per­son­al­i­sa­tion op­tions.

EN­TRY-LEVEL MODELS En­try-level SE grade is well-specced in­clud­ing metal­lic paint as stan­dard, 17-inch al­loy wheels, bi-colour roof, black roof rails, chrome front grille, power-ad­justable door mir­rors, LED day­time run­ning lights and tail lights, front cor­ner­ing fog lights and au­to­matic head­lights.

Inside, there’s air con, height-ad­justable front seats, a handy dou­ble boot floor, and a bunch of other kit.

SEAT’S Me­dia Sys­tem Colour pro­vides a five-inch touch­screen, six-speaker au­dio with FM/AM/ DAB ra­dio, Blue­tooth and aux-in/ USB con­nec­tions.

There are a raft of safety and driver as­sis­tance features also in­clud­ing Front As­sist, Multi- Col­li­sion Brak­ing, Hill Hold Con­trol, Tired­ness Recog­ni­tion Sys­tem and a full com­ple­ment of front-side­cur­tain airbags.

As you’d ex­pect, SE Tech­nol­ogy plugs in even more tech in­clud­ing an 8-in colour screen, Ap­ple and An­droid phone con­nec­tiv­ity and a wire­less phone charger.

HIGHER TRIM MODELS SEAT is known for its sporty FR brand, and Arona FR trim adds in a suite of hot hatch-style ex­tras like 18-inch Per­for­mance al­loys, sports-tuned sus­pen­sion and SEAT Drive Pro­file, which lets the driver ad­just ve­hi­cle per­for­mance and han­dling through four dif­fer­ent modes: Nor­mal, Sport, Eco, In­di­vid­ual). FR Sport trim is even more hot-hatchy.

Xcellence trim wants to be a bit more so­phis­ti­cated, with a Stor­age Pack, key­less-en­try-and-go, front seat­back stor­age pock­ets, Blind Spot De­tec­tion and Rear Cross Traf­fic Alert.

The Arona Xcellence Lux raises the bar with 18-inch Per­for­mance al­loys, black Al­can­tara (syn­thetic suede) up­hol­stery, the SEAT Drive Pro­file, front park­ing sen­sors, a rear-view cam­era and Park As­sist and a Beats Sound Sys­tem.

WHO WOULD BUY ONE? Prices range from £16,555 for the SE 1.0 TSI 95 to £24,040 for the range-top­ping Xcellence Lux 1.6 TDI.

All in, this is a car aimed at young fam­i­lies, sin­gle­tons, cou­ples and any­one who wants a small hatch­back-type car that’s been jacked and specced-up to cross­over sta­tus.

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