Seat is growing its SUV portfolio with a baby SUV based on the Ibiza

The 2018 Seat Arona is a subcompact SUV competing in the increasingly popular, European B-segment market. It shares underpinnings with the Ibiza hatchback and the Volkswagen T-Roc, and it’s the company’s smallest crossover yet. Introduced in 2017, it’s part of a three-SUV lineup that also includes the 2017 Seat Ateca and the 2019 Seat Tarraco. So why does Seat need a re-bodied version of the Volkswagen T-Roc? Well, the subcompact crossover segment has increased four-fold since 2015, and the Spanish automaker wants a piece of the action. And with the Volkswagen willing to share the MQB platform with all members of the group, it would be foolish to refuse. So here it is, the Seat Arona joins the subcompact SUV party as a perched-up, Ibiza-inspired alternative to the Volkswagen T-Roc.

Exterior

  • Ibiza-based front end
  • Ateca-based rear end
  • Black cladding
  • Two-tone paint options
  • Somewhat sporty
  • Shorter than the T-Roc

*** The Arona looks a lot like the Ibiza, one of the company’s most popular cars ***

Although it shares underpinnings with the Volkswagen T-Roc, the Arona looks nothing like it. Much to Seat’s credit, its vehicles aren’t the result of simple badge engineering, but Volkswagen’s platforms are rebodied completely and stand on their own. On the other hand, the Arona looks a lot like the Ibiza, another vehicle it shares underpinnings with. This isn’t surprising either. Seat wants its new SUVs to blend in with the existing and popular Ibiza and Leon, so these haulers were designed using the same styling cues.

If you ignore the minor changes, it appears as if the Arona features both the headlamps and the front grille from the Ibiza. The headlamps have the same angular shape with LED strips on the extremities, as well as the same trapezoidal grille. The similarities continue in the bumper, but the Arona has a bigger center grille and larger sockets for the foglamps. Obviously, the side vents are fake.

*** The C-pillar includes a cool-looking piece of chrome trim that separates the roof from the body ***

Take a few steps left or right, and you’ll quickly notice that the Arona looks like an Ibiza on stilts from the side. It has the same creases that act like character lines, muscular rear fenders, a big dent above the side skirts, and a similar glass house with a small quarter window behind the rear door. Both have the same mirror caps and can be ordered with five-spoke rims. However, the Arona sports the SUV-specific black cladding on the wheel arches and side skirts, while the C-pillar includes a cool-looking piece of chrome trim that separates the roof from the rest of the body. Of course, it also comes with roof rails.

Around back, you won’t find too many Ibiza cues. At least not more than the usual Seat features shared between models. That’s mostly because the Arona has its license plate on the tailgate, which makes room for a more robust bumper design. On the other hand, the diffuser-like plate is trapezoidal, which mimics the shape of the license plate recess seen on both the Ibiza and Leon. The taillights look closer to the Leon’s as far as shape and size go. It’s a two-piece element that includes an almost square part on the fender and a triangular part on the tailgate.

*** The Arona is a good 91 mm (3.6 inches) shorter than the T-Roc ***

Seat offers only a handful of exterior colors for the Arona, including White, Mystery Blue, Desire Red, Urban Silver, Midnight Black, Nevada White, and Eclipse. Definitely not too many options to choose from, but the cool thing is that it comes in a two-tone finish, meaning you can combined the colors above with a grey, black, or orange roof. You can obviously opt for a monochromatic theme as well, but the two-tone finish makes the crossover stand out.

Size-wise, the Arona is 4,138 mm (162.9 inches) long, which makes it 79 mm (3.1 inches) longer than the Ibiza. It’s notably longer, and it’s higher too, standing 99 mm (3.9 inches) taller than the hatchback. On the other hand, the Arona is a good 91 mm (3.6 inches) shorter than the T-Roc. The wheelbase is also 29 mm (1.1 inches) shorter.

Interior

  • Identical to the Ibiza
  • Clean and modern
  • Cloth seats
  • Optional leather inserts
  • Decent-size display
  • Competitive room
  • Slightly inferior trunk

*** The infotainment display in the center stack is decent as far as size goes ***

The Arona’s interior is identical to the Ibiza’s. And by "identical" I mean that you can’t really tell them apart. This isn’t surprising — it’s a strategy used by many companies nowadays — but it’s somewhat disappointing. Sure, Mercedes-Benz did the same with the C-Class and GLC, but come on people, let’s have a bit of diversity. At least change an A/C, a button layout, something.

Anyway, despite this, the Arona’s cabin looks nice. The dashboard is clean and simple; the horizontal vents add width, while the infotainment display in the center stack is decent as far as size goes. You can pick between silver and black, white or red stitching, and you can go with either cloth for a more affordable sticker or with some leather if you’re willing to pay a bit more. While the layout and design are shared with the Ibiza, the fabrics and color combinations are exclusiv to the Arona. But that’s about it. It’s not impressive, but it’s not bad either.

The cool thing is that the longer body and wheelbase provides more passenger room when compared to the Ibiza, which rides on the same platform. Headroom is 37 mm greater in the front and 33 mm in the rear and it’s pretty much on par with the Volkswagen T-Roc and a bit above the Nissan Juke.

*** The Arona offers 400 liters (14.1 cubic feet) of luggage room behind the second-row seats ***

The seating position is also a bit different. The driver’s seat cushion is 52 mm higher. This provides a higher driving position for a better view of the road and it also improves ingress and egress. The windscreen is also a bit more vertical than the Ibiza.

In terms of connectivity, the Sean Arona features Apple Car Play, Android Auto, and Mirror Link.

As far as luggage room goes, the Arona offers 400 liters (14.1 cubic feet) behind the second-row seats. That’s 45 liters (1.6 cubic feet) less than the Volkswagen T-Roc but 46 liters more than the Nissan Juke. Seat says that the Arona can swallow up to 823 liters (29 cubic feet) with the rear seats folded flat. That’s incredibly little space compared to the T-Roc, which has a 1,532-liter (54.1-cubic-foot) rating, and the Juke, rated at 1,189 liters (42 cubic feet). However, I have a feeling that Seat is measuring trunk space in a different. Loaded from the floor to the ceiling, the Arona should be close to the T-Roc since the two vehicles have similar dimensions.

Drivetrain

  • Same engines as T-Roc
  • Manual transmission
  • Optional DSG
  • Up to 148 horsepower
  • Two diesels
  • Dual-mode suspension

*** The 148-horsepower 2.0-liter TSI engine features cylinder deactivation technology ***

Just like other Seat vehicles, the Arona features a handful of engine from the Volkswagen Group. They are shared with the Ibiza and the Volkswagen T-Roc.

First on the list is the 1.0-liter three-cylinder mill rated at 94 horsepower and offered with a five-speed manual transmission. This isn’t available with the T-Roc, but the more powerful, 113-horsepower version is, so the two mini SUVs are identical here. This unit comes with either a six-speed manual or the DSG automatic.

Seat also offers a 2.0-liter TSI engine that generates 148 horsepower. Also shared with the T-Roc, it features cylinder deactivation technology and mates to a six-speed manual gearbox. This engine is exclusive to the FR trim. Unfortunately, Seat doesn’t offer the 187-horsepower version of this engine.

On the diesel front, you can pick the familiar 1.6-liter TDI with either 94 or 113 horsepower. The former features the five-speed manual, while the latter comes with the six-speed transmission. Both are available with the seven-speed DSG.

Go with the more expensive FR trim, and you also get the dual-mode suspension and the Seat Drive Profile with four modes: Normal, Sport, Eco and Individual.

Safety

The Seat Arona is well equipped in this department. The safety package includes front airbags and side head, chest, and pelvis airbags for the driver and passenger. Rear passengers benefit from side head airbags, belt pretensioners, and belt load limiters. However, the Arona doesn’t have knee airbags like some modern vehicles do.

Active systems include Front Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, Hill Hold control, Tiredness Recognition System, Auto lights and wipers, Multi-Collision Braking, Keyless Entry and Start System, and a rear camera. Optional features include Rear Traffic Alert, Blind Spot Detection, and Park Assistance System.

Prices

Pricing for the Seat Arona starts from £17,145, which places it some £2,000 below the Volkswagen T-Roc and around £1,500 above the dated Nissan Juke. For this amount, you get the base SE model. Upgrade to the SE Technology version and pricing jumps to £18,070, while the SE Technology Lux will set you back £20,505. The FR retails from £20,405, but the FR Sport trim goes into £21K territory at £21,435. Finally the Xcellence starts from £21,545, while the range-topping Xcellence Lux fetches £22,860 before any other options.

Competition

Nissan Juke

Although it’s been around since 2010, which makes it somewhat dated, the Juke remains a popular option thanks to its funky design and affordable sticker. Based on the Nissan B platform, shared with the Renault Captur, the Juke was replaced by the Kicks in North America, but it soldiers on in Europe. The crossover can be ordered with either a 1.6-liter gasoline engine or a 1.5-liter diesel. The 1.6 comes in two guises, a naturally aspirated version with 115 horsepower and 116 pound-feet and a turbocharged variant with 197 horses and 184 pound-feet. The 1.5-liter dCi cranks out 109 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of twist. Priced from £15,505, the Juke is the most affordable vehicle in this comparison.

Read our full story on the Nissan Juke.

Volkswagen T-Roc

The Arona’s sister model, the T-Roc boasts a modern, sporty design that stands out in the Volkswagen lineup and it also features a two-tone exterior with a contrasting roof. The general consensus is that the T-Roc has the better materials inside the cabin, but the difference is barely noticeable unless you go with the range-topping version. The engine lineup is identical save for the fact that Volkswagen skipped a couple of low-powered units. The gasoline lineup includes a 1.0-liter three-cylinder rated at 113 horsepower, a 1.5-liter four-banger that generates 148 horses, and a 2.0-liter TSI that cranks out 187 horsepower. The latter comes with 4Motion all-wheel drive. Diesel options include the 1.6-liter TDI with 113 horsepower and 184 pound-feet and the 2.0-liter TDI with 148 horses and 236 pound-feet. Transmission choices include the six-speed manual and seven-speed DSG automatic. Pricing for the Volkswagen T-Roc starts from £19,270.

Read our full review of the Volkswagen T-Roc.

Skoda Kamiq

Launched in China in 2018, the Kamiq makes its European debut at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show. And based on the first official photos it seems that it will feature a slightly different design. Skoda’s smallest SUV yet, the Kamiq is also based on the same platform as the Arona and T-Roc, so it will feature the same drivetrains. Expect it to have the same engines as the Arona, but a slightly downgraded interior to help prevent the three crossovers from cannibalizing each other. The Kamiq will probably cost less than the Arona; it will probably be as affordable as the Juke, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Skoda price it below the £15,000 mark.

Read our speculative review of the Skoda Kamiq.

Conclusion

Sporting a different design, the Seat Arona is a cool alternative to the T-Roc. Although Volkswagen’s SUV looks equally modern and sporty, the Arona stands out as a slightly more affordable vehicle with appealing looks and a solid technology package. It also comes with a couple of lower output engines, filling a gap left unchallenged by Volkswagen. On the flipside, the upcoming Skoda Kamiq might steal a few customers from Seat, especially buyers who don’t want an Ibiza hatchback on stilts.

  • Leave it
    • A knock-off of other VW-Group models
    • Stiff competition

Press release

SEAT presented its latest products at the Volkswagen Group’s Evening Event, the night before the official opening of the International Motorshow 2017 in Frankfurt. The new Arona and Leon CUPRA R, as well as Amazon Alexa, the innovative voice-activated digital service were SEAT’s protagonists on this special night. Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG, Matthias Müller, was the master of ceremonies and responsible for the introduction of the latest models to which all the press were invited to get the scoop on the Volkswagen Group’s exciting releases.

Tomorrow, the Arona, Leon CUPRA R and Amazon Alexa will take centre stage on the first press day of the IAA in Frankfurt. At 11:15am (UK), the President of SEAT, Luca de Meo, will host a press conference at the SEAT stand to talk about the new Arona, Leon CUPRA R, Amazon Alexa and the shortlisted names of SEAT’s future large-size SUV. In the afternoon, at 2pm, Wayne Griffiths, Executive Vice-President for Sales and Marketing and Dr. Matthias Rabe, Executive Vice-President for Research and Development will talk about the new Leon CUPRA R, as well as future CUPRA projects. Finally, at 3:30pm, Ned Curic, Amazon Alexa Automotive Vice-president and Dr. Matthias Rabe will be speaking about the integration of the new innovative voice activated service Amazon Alexa, into the SEAT range.

New SEAT Arona

After making its first appearance in Barcelona in front of 250 international journalists in June, the New SEAT Arona will be presented internationally at the IAA Frankfurt.

The Arona, SEAT’s third launch in 2017 after the new Leon and Ibiza, is yet another step in the biggest ever product offensive carried out by the Barcelona-based brand. The large SUV that will arrive in 2018 is just a part of that. The Arona, the second model to be manufactured using the MQB A0 platform and that marks SEAT’s entrance into the compact crossover segment, is the younger brother to Ateca in SEAT’s growing SUV range. Manufactured exclusively in Martorell, the new SEAT Arona stands out from the rest through its wellthought out height and width, multiple customisation possibilities and the most advanced technology in safety and connectivity. Elegance, space, practicality and comfort from Monday to Friday and adventure, robustness, sportiness and efficiency at the weekend, the new SEAT Arona of course contains SEAT’s attractive, unique design and is destined for those drivers that are looking for excitement without sacrificing the dynamism, refinement and sportiness of the Spanish brand.

New Digital Cockpit

Another reason to visit the SEAT stand will be the new Digital Cockpit, featured for the first time in Arona, Leon ST CUPRA, Ibiza and Ateca. The Spanish brand is going to introduce the Digital Cockpit early in 2018 first in the Leon and the Ateca and later in the Ibiza and the Arona. Thanks to the new Digital Cockpit, the instrumentation not only has a more modern and versatile design, but will also give better functionality. The system can be configured to suit different driver tastes, and the whole instrumentation comes now with a fantastic resolution. It is not just about improving the design or the infotainment system, it is also about the advantages it brings to the driving experience, positively contributing to safety and comfort. This new feature, represents another important technological step forward for SEAT, and comes clearly in line with the company digitalisation strategy.

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