Review: SEAT Arona (2018)


Smooth and comfortable motorway cruiser. Excellent in town with the 1.0 TSI petrol engine. All models are well-equipped as standard.

Lumpy gearing for 1.5 TSI Evo engine. Lots of wind noise, even at low speeds. Drab interior. 5-seaters rendered 4-seaters by centre rear seatbelt buckle fault.

SEAT Arona (2018): At A Glance

The SEAT Arona is proof that bigger isn't automatically better when it comes to crossovers. More comfortable, practical and desirable than the majority of its rivals, the Arona is one of the best all-rounders in the compact crossover market, while its excellent range of petrol engines make it a great choice for those who want to avoid diesel.

Despite the visual similarities with the Ateca, the Arona doesn't actually share any of its major components with SEAT's medium size SUV; it's actually based on the same platform as the fourth-gen Ibiza. And that's good news for those who value comfort and value over performance and handling.

For sure, it's not the most engaging of drives, but the Arona is smooth and predictable. The ride quality is also excellent and even sportier models on firm suspension and 18-inch wheels feel comfortable on rough roads. The only area of annoyance is the abundance of wind noise; fit the optional roof rails and the problem becomes quite noticeable at motorway speeds. 

That said, the Arona gets all the fundamentals right. In terms of size, it's similar to the Juke and Captur but its 400 litre boot capacity is far superior to the 354 litres in the Nissan and 377 litres in the Renault. You also get better comfort in the back with plenty of head and legroom to transport two adults in the rear seats over a long journey in comfort.  

The Arona works best with petrol-power, with the star of the show being the three-cylinder 1.0 TSI. Not only is it smooth and hushed on the motorway, but it also promises an official 57.6mpg which means you no longer need to default for diesel when it comes to low fuel costs. Most engines are offered with a manual or DSG automatic transmissions. 

While it might seem quite expensive against its rivals, the Arona comes with a lot of equipment as standard. Even basic SE models get 17-inch alloy wheels, two-tone metallic paint, LED daytime running lights and a 5.0-inch colour touchscreen. SE Technology trim adds parking sensors and a large 8.0 inch screen to the dash, along with navigation and full link connectivity for a mobile phone. Only those who want sporty styling or plush interiors will need to spend more on FR or Xcellence spec. 

List price aside, we think the Arona is one of the best all-rounder compact crossovers. More comfortable than the Captur and more practical than the Juke, SEAT's second crossover is another success story for the Volkswagen-backed carmaker. In fact, to find a genuine rival, you have to look towards the T-Roc. However, badge snobbery aside, we think the SEAT wins on value every time. 

SEAT Arona 1.0 TSI 2018 Road Test

What does a SEAT Arona (2018) cost?

List Price from £18,010
Buy new from £14,550
Contract hire from £156.56 per month

SEAT Arona (2018): What's It Like Inside?

Length 4138 mm
Width 1780–1942 mm
Height 1543–1552 mm
Wheelbase 2566 mm

Full specifications

The Arona is quite expensive to buy new, but it does get lots of equipment fitted as standard with entry-level SE models featuring 5.0-inch touchscreen infotainment, cruise control, hill hold assist and a double level boot floor. For most buyers, however, the SE Technology trim level will make the most sense, owing to the fact it comes with rear parking sensors and a large 8.0-inch touchscreen with navigation.

It’s a pity that the sharp, bright styling of the exterior isn’t carried over to the cabin. The sea of grey plastics and fabrics feel somewhat at odds with the youthful exterior. That said, the layout is easy to master and the view of the road can only be described as commanding. The narrow door mirrors also do a reasonable job of covering common blind spots at the sides. 

The 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system is one of the best you will find in any modern car on sale right now, thanks to its fast pinch and swipe operation and bright screen. The build quality of the interior feels solid too, with no squeaks or creaks from the trim as you tackle potholes or bumpy roads. 

There's plenty of space to accommodate four adults, with the high roof and wide body providing lots of head and elbow room for those in the front and back. Fitting a fifth passenger is problematic, however, with the raised transmission tunnel cutting leg space to near zero for the rear middle seat. All models get air conditioning as standard, but the heating is quite slow to get going on a cold morning and this means you could be driving for a good five minutes before the first signs of warmth appear. 

The boot is one of the largest of any compact crossover and the double boot floor makes it easy to load heavy items in and out. You also get a useful side pocket next to the wheelarch for cleaning cloths or screen wash. A thick layer of plastic over the loading lip should protect the bodywork from knocks and scratches from shopping bags. 

FR trim adds sports seats and dark tint for the rear windows, along with automatic climate control. Xcellence versions are more plus, with the option of Alcantara upholstery and keyless entry and go. A rear cross traffic alert system is also available, warning the driver of approaching traffic when reversing. However, unless you really want plushness from your Arona, we'd recommend choosing the SE Technology trim. 

Specifications (from April 2018)

SE comes with 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, air conditioning, height-adjustable front seats, split-folding rear seat, double boot floor, electric windows front and rear, chrome detailing and leather trim for the gear knob and handbrake. SEAT’s Media System Colour provides a five-inch touchscreen, six-speaker audio with FM/AM/DAB radio, Bluetooth and aux-in/USB connections, Front Assist, Multi-Collision Braking, Hill Hold Control and Tiredness Recognition System, cruise control.

SE Technology adds the Connectivity Pack Plus, with a larger, eight-inch colour touchscreen and proximity sensor and a navigation package, with 3D map display and voice control. SEAT Full Link with MirrorLink, Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto plus a wireless phone charger, an additional USB port, two SD card slots and rear parking sensors.

FR includes 17-inch Dynamic alloys, full LED headlights, chrome roof rails, dark-tinted rear windows, twin tailpipes and heated/folding door mirrors with casings that match the contrast roof colour. Inside, the FR is equipped with sports front seats and a flat-bottom steering wheel, multi-colour ambient lighting and FR-exclusive trim details also set the theme. SEAT Drive Profile lets the driver adjust vehicle performance and handling through four different modes (Normal/Sport/Eco/Individual) and the suspension is sports-tuned. Rear disc brakes replace the SE's drums, plus there is rain-sensing wipers, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, coming/leaving home headlight functions and dual-zone climate control.

FR Sport models gain larger, 18-inch Performance alloy wheels, Dynamic Chassis Control and black Alcantara upholstery.

XCELLENCE matches the FR specification minus the dedicated sports features. Additional elements include the Storage Pack, KESSY keyless-entry-and-go, front seatback storage pockets, Blind Spot Detection and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.

XCELLENCE Lux comes with 18-inch Performance alloys, black Alcantara upholstery, the SEAT Drive Profile, front parking sensors, a rear-view camera and Park Assist. 

Child seats that fit a SEAT Arona (2018)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the SEAT Arona (2018) like to drive?

The SEAT Arona is one of those cars that efficiently go about its business with an effortless quality that’s typically missing from compact crossovers. The jittery ride – a by-product of a high riding car on a short wheelbase – is a trait that the Arona thankfully avoids with its sophisticated suspension setup, while its high levels of refinement make it great for a long motorway run or short jaunt around town. 

The steering is light and features just enough feedback to give the driver a good understanding of how much grip is available; however, if you want more involvement FR models add selectable driving modes that allow the steering and throttle responses to be sharpened to push the Arona along with a bit of enthusiasm. That said, like most crossovers, the Arona's goal is to provide comfort rather than a compelling drive. 

Backed by some of the best petrol engines in the business, the Arona is at its best with the 115PS 1.0 TSI petrol and six-speed manual gearbox. Smooth and packing enough punch to overtake slow moving traffic, the three-cylinder unit puts many larger and more powerful engines to shame. Its refined too, with low levels of noise or vibration being fed back into the cabin. Its advertised 57.6mpg make it a likeable alternative to diesel.

The 1.0 TSI can also be specified with 95PS and a five-speed manual; however, we'd recommend spending extra on the more-powerful petrol as the 95PS unit can feel a little stressed and noisy at motorway speeds and under hard acceleration. Economy is the same too as the 115PS engine too, which means there really isn't any gains to be made by choosing less power.

In FR trim, the Arona gets tge 150PS 1.5 TSI Evo petrol which adds a bit of hot hatch zip by taking the 0-62mph sprint down to 8.3 seconds and marginally cutting advertised economy to 55.4mpg. Yet, while more involving at higher speeds, the 1.5 TSI feels something of a mismatch in the Arona. The radios of the six-speed gearbox, for example, are quite short in the lower gears and this makes the Arona prone to bunny hopping down the road as you set off - if we didn't know better, we'd say that the six-speed manual has been designed with the 1.0 TSI in mind. 

The Arona gets one diesel engine - a 1.6 TDI with 95PS or 115PS - but this is designed for long distance drivers with its DPF making it unsuitable for short runs from cold. Claimed economy for the four-cylinder diesel peaks at 70.6mpg and like the petrols it's available with a manual or seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox. 

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
1.0 TSI 115 57–58 mpg 9.8 s 113–114 g/km
1.0 TSI 115 DSG 57 mpg 10.0 s 113–114 g/km
1.0 TSI 95 57–58 mpg 11.2 s 111 g/km
1.5 TSI 150 58 mpg 8.3 s 115 g/km
1.6 TDI 115 66 mpg 10.5 s 106–107 g/km
1.6 TDI 115 Automatic 64 mpg 12.8 s 108–109 g/km
1.6 TDI 95 66 mpg 11.9–12.8 s 105–113 g/km

Real MPG average for a SEAT Arona (2018)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance


Real MPG

34–60 mpg

MPGs submitted


Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the SEAT Arona (2018)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

Is it true that my SEAT can't be trickle charged due to specialised battery tech?

We own a SEAT Arona FR auto and we need to self isolate as we are in a high risk group so won't be driving the car for the next 3 weeks. We wish to put the battery on trickle charge. We have a C-TEK charger (recommended by you). I wanted to ensure I didn't have to disconnect anything so I read the car's manual. It says, "It should be charged by a specialised workshop due to using battery specialised technology. I've never heard such tosh but I thought I should check with you.
We have received the following statement from SEAT: "We’d generally tell customers not to trickle charge their vehicles, these are certainly unusual times. Our customer helplines remain open, as well as the live chat feature on, so in the first instance we’d advise a customer contact us for guidance on their individual case. A vehicle can be trickle charged but it’s important to note that our vehicles use Lithium-ion batteries so if a customer wishes to utilise a smart charger then it must be compatible for this battery type, and it must not be rated more than 32A with a capacity of 250Ah."
Answered by Dan Powell
More Questions

What Cars Are Similar To The SEAT Arona (2018)?

Key attributes of the this model are: Petrol engine, Economical and Crossover.

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What do owners think?

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  • 5 star 67%
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  • 3 star 17%
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  • 1 star 17%

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