SEAT Arona SUV - Interior & comfort
The SEAT Arona is well designed and generously equipped inside, but lacks a luxury feel
The Arona feels very much in keeping with SEAT's latest way of doing things, with an interior that's well built, modern and functional, rather than hugely stylish or innovative. However, standard equipment is impressive, even if the brand's 'simple' range structure is actually a little less clear than it could be.
Ride quality is generally comfortable, but the FR and FR Sport are noticeably firmer than other models. Even on 17-inch wheels, its sporty suspension causes shudders in the cabin when driving on rough road surfaces, and pothole shocks can be quite violent. Its wider tyres contribute more road noise at speed, though, and the smaller wheels are more comfortable to travel on at motorway speeds.
SEAT Arona dashboard
The Arona's interior design closely follows that of the Ibiza, which is cleanly laid-out and high-quality, but lacking the flair you might hope for from a brand that aims to be more fun and stylish than other VW Group marques.
It's easy to live with, though – the infotainment screen is mounted high and dedicated purely to tasks it's best suited to. The heating controls, for example, remain entirely separate, so you can adjust the air-conditioning without leaving the map page.
The interior is finished with a number of different textured surfaces that look expensive yet lack the tactile feel of soft-touch materials found in certain rivals. There are some contrasting trim pieces that brighten the mood a little, but the only padded surfaces are the seats themselves. The FR Sport introduces a more appealing leather-like material in front of the passenger, which is more pleasing to look at than the usual plastic.
In a first for a small crossover, SEAT’s optional Digital Cockpit swaps the standard gauges for a digital instrument 10.25-inch display with Classic, Digital and Dynamic views. These prioritise graphical gauges, the sat nav and vehicle settings respectively. Get a call over Bluetooth and it appears in a ‘pop-up’.
Nobody will buy an Arona and complain of a shortage of standard equipment. Although technically the entry-level model, the SE is far from basic – its exterior is enlivened by standard metallic paint, 17-inch alloy wheels and LED daytime running lights, while air-conditioning, all-round electric windows and leather touches grace the interior.
Infotainment is taken care of by a 6.5-inch colour touchscreen, which controls the DAB radio, aux-in and USB inputs, as well as Bluetooth connectivity. This screen is replaced by an eight-inch version on the SE Technology, supporting sat nav with 3D mapping, voice control and 'SEAT Full Link', a system that integrates your smartphone for use with MirrorLink, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. This upgrade also brings you a wireless phone charger, SD memory card slots and rear parking sensors.
SE Technology Lux adds a Beats Audio stereo upgrade, Winter Pack with heated front seats, adaptive cruise control and keyless entry. At the time of writing, it’s only available with the diesel engine, so may be a niche choice.
Additional style is one incentive for Arona FR buyers – its 'Dynamic' alloy wheels, full LED headlamps, dark-tinted rear windows and twin exhaust pipes are reflected by a sporty flat-bottomed steering wheel, sculpted front seats and ambient interior lighting in a range of user-selectable colours. You can also play with SEAT's 'Drive Profile', which enables you to adjust the car's response through four modes (Normal, Sport, Eco and Individual), while the suspension is more firmly set up for greater cornering agility.
There's also a more powerful braking system including rear disc brakes, which paves the way for the more powerful 1.5-litre engine the FR offers as an option. FR Sport tops all this with 18-inch wheels, black Alcantara suede upholstery, SEAT’s digital instrument display and the Winter Pack.
The Xcellence has a less sporty emphasis, but otherwise matches the FR specification and adds clever interior storage solutions, keyless entry and go, as well as safety features such as blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. An upgrade to Xcellence Lux adds 18-inch alloy wheels, Alcantara upholstery, front parking sensors, a rear-view camera and parking assistance. It also features the drive profile system.