Seat Arona Preview: Spain’s Cute New Crossover
by Sue Baker
Barcelona is home city to Seat, and it was host to the unveiling of the new crossover car from the sporty Spanish member of the Volkswagen family.
Car company Seat is as Spanish as paella, dished up with German bratwurst. Although based just inland from Barcelona, Seat is part of the Volkswagen Group. So its cars are dressed Spanish-style but wear German underpants.
Seat has been through some tricky times. For years it was the loss-making member of the VW empire. But now it is profitable as the group’s fastest-growing brand, and last year was its best ever, selling over 400,000 cars globally.
Its models are named after places in Spain – Ibiza, Toledo, Leon, Ateca, Alhambra – and now a new one is about to be added to the list. Arona. This is a cute-looking compact crossover is named after a resort in the Canary Islands, and is a smaller brother for the acclaimed Ateca.
The Arona, just unveiled in a trendy venue on the Montjuic mountain soaring high above Barcelona, is based on the same under-structure as the new Seat Ibiza. It’s notable that this same chassis will underpin the new Polo coming later this year, and also the next Audi A1 and the Volkswagen T-Roc due this autumn. So it is the second arrival in a whole family of models all wearing similar underwear.
Seat has an Italian boss at the helm, the ebullient Luca de Meo who once ran Fiat, and he fizzed with enthusiasm about the new Arona at its unveiling. At 4.1 metres long it is only seven cm longer than an Ibiza but 10 cm taller, has a lot more headroom and a much bigger boot. At 400 litres, the Arona’s boot is nearly 25 per cent larger, exceeding even the luggage space in a next-size-up Seat Leon.
There’s a big trend for personalisation in small cars, and the Arona is no exception. Its choice of 10 different body colours, three roof options, two side moulding designs and other variations adds up to 68 possible combinations available to give it an individual look.
Small car, big kit list
Among the safety and assistance kit you’ll be able to have in an Arona are park assist, blind spot detection, rear cross traffic alert, pedestrian deflection and automatic distance control. For audio buffs there is a 300-watts, eight channels system with six speakers and a sub-woofer. There’s wireless charging for your mobile phone, and even optional seat heaters.
Engine options will be one-litre petrol with 94 or 114 bhp, 1.4 litre petrol with 148 bhp, and a pair of diesels: 1.4 auto (94 bhp) or 1.6 litre (114 bhp).
Inside the Arona is neatly laid out with an infotainment screen integrated into the top of the dash, some edgy polka dot trim in some versions, and smartly upholstered seats with contrasting saddle stitching. It’s a smart cabin that doesn’t feel too budget, apart from some rather firm plastic surfaces.
Six by 2020
Seat is on a bit of a roll at present, cannily steered by the charismatic Mr de Meo. By 2020 there will be six new Seat models, including an electric family car with a range of around 300 miles between recharges. Seat’s engineering director Dr Matthias Rabe is steering the project and says the car should be capable of being recharged up to 80 per cent within the space of an extended coffee break – about half an hour or so.
Hybrid models are also planned. Other projects may include a sporty Cupra version of the Ateca, Seat’s larger SUV-crossover. That would be in keeping with Seat’s status as the sportiest car brand in the Volkswagen Group, alongside VW, Audi and Skoda.
Images: Sue Baker
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