Seat is on an SUV roll, with not only the Ateca but also, later this year, the Arona. How will the new, smaller SUV stack up against the award-winning Ateca?
For a company that, only last year, didn’t even have one SUV to its name, Seat is moving at breakneck speed. The Seat Ateca has won awards out of nowhere, and now the Spanish company is coming back for a second bite later this year with the smaller Arona. Other manufacturers should be wary – after all if Seat can upset the sector while still sticking to the first letter in the alphabet, how many more upsets are to come?
To see how the Arona stacks up we decided to stack it up against a fierce competitor – the Seat Ateca.
The new Ibiza hatchback is quite a looker, and it’s easy to see some of those sharp lines transferring over to the larger, taller Arona. The silver trim carries on from below the side windows up through the rear pillars, creating a pleasing separation of roof from body. Those pillars have an X on them for crossover, highlighting the hatchback running costs with 4×4 appearance – and hopefully not the other way round.
Engines and driving
The Arona won’t come with a four-wheel drive option, as the Ateca does, but there will be a lot of driver aids including automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and a parking assistance system. We’re guessing the handling will be crisp and quite car-like – at least judging by the Ateca.
There will be a choice of three petrol and two diesel engines, with the petrol engines starting with the 1.0-litre 94bhp three-pot and finishing with the new 148bhp 1.5-litre four-pot. The diesels will both be 1.6-litre, with either 94bhp or 113bhp.
However, our guess at this remove is that the best bet will be the 113bhp variant of the turbocharged 1.0-litre petrol engine. That engine may make the heavier Ateca feel a little underpowered but in the smaller, lighter Arona it should be just right.
The cabins of the two SUVs show quite a difference in approach. Where the Ateca goes for more soft-touch, muted colours and materials, the Arona will be much more like the latest Ibiza, and so will go for harder trim that is still well made, and a much more colourful, brighter palette.
Infotainment and kit
Both vehicles have touchscreen infotainment systems that start at 5in and grow to 8in further up the trim levels. They will also both offer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto although as yet we don’t know which trims will have all this as standard. The Ateca actually has the better screen set-up since the Arona screen needs you to look away from the road ahead to navigate some touch-sensitive panels.
Space and practicality
Even though we haven’t sat in the rear of the Arona yet, since it is based on the Ibiza, and that can cope with two six-footers in the back, we’re pretty confident that space won’t be an issue. But then it still won’t have the family space of the Ateca, which is remarkably spacious for the external dimensions.
The Arona has a tough gig you’d think, since the Ateca is so damn good and so competitively priced. The larger Seat SUV is cheaper than most of its rivals, with prices starting at £18,340.
But the smaller Arona will start at just £16,555, although that is for the non-turbo 1.0-litre model with 94bhp. However, that’s about £3k more than Seat’s Ibiza and is perhaps a touch more than we’d expected. And the top trim levels of Xcellence and Xcellence Lux will start from £20,825.
We’ll have to see exactly how trims, engines and prices align, but we’d be surprised if price proved too much of a barrier to entry. Who knows what Seat will do when it moves on up to the letter B.