SEAT is on the crest of a wave , having recently launched a raft of new models with more to come during 2018 including a large SUV.
Their recent launch featured a new compact SUV Crossover- the Arona, which slots in under the Ateca. The newcomer uses the same MQB AO platform as the recently introduced new Volkswagen Polo, this permits more scope in all the key areas and for its compact dimensions, I was surprised to discover the impressive amount of cabin space.
SEAT has kept the buying process relatively simple with the new model, six trim levels and even metallic paint finish is included. Certainly not a complex range which is going to make the buying process much easier and no doubt this will also be welcomed by the dealers.
Power choice, five engines, three petrol and two diesel; two one litres and one 1.5 litre in the petrol portfolio and 1.6 litre diesels, offering 95 and 115PS.
My brief test drive was in an FR trim, the slightly sporting side of Arona with a one litre, 115PS engine, allied to a manual transmission. There is also an FR Sport with its 18 inch machined alloys and dynamic chassis control.
Performance was reasonable with fuel economy better news and quoting official figures, 56.5mpg (5.0/100km). My test car had a six speed manual transmission; depending on the model there is also a five speed manual and a seven speed DSG auto. So when it comes to transmission choice and taking into account other cars that I have driven from the VAG Group I would put my money with the DSG auto.
When you hear the term SUV, thoughts turn to all wheel drive. Sorry folks, on this occasion the Arona is only available in front wheel drive form. The newcomer is likely to find favour with families and the surprisingly spacious cabin is matched with 400 litres of boot space, fold the rear seats and 823 litres is on offer, with 1,280 litres up to the roof. Another surprise was in the level of equipment available, depending of course on the model chosen. Such as Adaptive Cruise Control, Connectivity Hub, dual zone climate control, full LED lights, Full Link and SEAT Drive Profile.
Colours mean so much today, especially to the younger driver and in this area SEAT does not disappoint with an array of bright colours, it seems as if the flavour of Barcelona has come to Ireland. In addition there are three roof colours to choose from, black, grey and orange. This is a trend we are seeing more and more, a separate roof colour from that of the body.
Keeping in touch with friends and the world at large, in other words connectivity is now a key element with the modern car and in this respect SEAT does not disappoint. So on the move you are always in touch with those who matter. Behind the wheel, the new Arona delivers, okay as already indicated performance is not earth shattering, but it does manage to provide acceptable levels of comfort.
Arona enters one of the busiest sectors of the market which seems to be growing day and it goes head to head with offerings from Renault, Peugeot and co. Looking at cost, the range starts at £16,555 and peaks at £22,095 N.I., this certainly is competitive when looking at the competition. In the R.O.I., the Arona starts at an impressive €17,995.
So why is SEAT so successful, currently the fastest growing volume manufacturer in Europe, quite simple, design is modern and trendy as already noted with Arona, not scared to go for bold colours and bright interiors and when it comes to power units, economy and performance. During the next two years a further six new models will be launched and that includes the already aforementioned SUV.
Their recipe for success is simple; provide what the customers want with a minimum wait time and above all, deliver real value for money.