Tuesday, 13 November 2018

SUV’s baby brother is great value for money

SUV’s baby brother is great value for money

THE Spanish car maker Seat has an avowed ambition to launch one new car every six months until 2020.

The first two vehicles will be the Seat Tarraco and the Cupra Ateca, which go on sale at the end of 2018.

And in 2019 the new generation Seat Leon will be available in dealerships with two variants — the five-door model and the ST family-sized version.

Then in 2020 the car maker’s first fully electric vehicle appears with a range of 500 kilometres. Also, for the first time, there will be a CUV (Crossover Utility Vehicle) in the Seat model line-up.

So, as they say, all systems go at Seat. And as long as this ambition is not overriding and adversely affects the quality of its new cars coming off the production line then I can see no reason why Seat should not consolidate a growing reputation for much improved models at affordable prices.

The Seat I have been driving this week is a case in point. The new Arona, named after a town on Tenerife, is the baby brother to the excellent Ateca SUV (sport utility vehicle).

The Arona is a compact crossover whose biggest asset as far as I was concerned was its size and price (the test car came in at a total of £20,165).

This equates to great value for money for a car whose level of equipment and comfort would match bigger and less manoeuvrable SUVs.

This close-grading of SUVs now popular with car makers is one of the best things that could have happened for consumers.

You get to choose the car to fit your exact requirements, most pertinently in terms of size. It is no longer a case that you have to accept that an SUV or indeed, a so-called crossover vehicle has to be too big for your needs.

The Seat Ateca is a fine SUV. But if you find on a test drive that the Ateca might be a tad too large, then you now have the Arona as a handy alternative.

Bottom line is that in the Arona you might be downsizing your SUV ambitions but you do not miss out on any of the advantages of driving a large SUV.

There are three petrol units available in the Arona. In order of output, they start with the 1.0 TSI 95 PS, matched to a five-speed manual gearbox; this is also available in 115 PS, and with an extra gear added to the transmission. Combined fuel economy is up to 57.6 miles per gallon with 111 g/km of CO2 emissions.

The more powerful version of this three-cylinder unit will also be offered with the excellent DSG automatic transmission.

FR and FR Sport models have exclusive use of the 1.5 TSI 150 EVO engine. The new Arona also features a 1.6 TDI engine, with 95 or 115 PS — the former optionally available with DSG.

In FR grade — the grade I have been driving and would recommend — the Arona gains sporty style, features 17-inch Dynamic alloy wheels, 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 an exclusive 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 tuned for better handling.

Rear disc brakes are added, together with an alarm, rain-sensing wipers, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, coming/leaving home headlight functions and dual-zone climate control.

For sportier looks and more performance, the Arona FR Sport models gain 18-inch Performance alloy wheels, Dynamic Chassis Control and black Alcantara upholstery.

The Arona is offered in six trims. The grades dovetail 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.

The new Arona, along with Seat’s three flagship models, the Ateca, Leon and Ibiza, has also achieved five stars in Euro NCAP safety tests.

Factfile

Seat Arona FR 1.0 TSI 115PS six-speed manual

Body colour: Eclipse Orange, metallic

Roof colour: Midnight Black, metallic

Average fuel economy: 57.6 mpg

CO2 emissions: 113g/km

0-62mph: 9.8 seconds

Top speed: 113 mph

Upholstery: Nora Black FR Cloth

Seat’s first compact crossover

‘Easy’ range line-up: buyers simply select trim level, engine and colour

Up to 30 different colour combinations available, with matching or contrasting body and roof finishes

Price of test car: £20,165

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