Parkers overall rating: 4.3 out of 5 4.3
  • Smooth and responsive engines
  • Lively on the road
  • No diesel or hybrids

What engine options are there?

The Arona’s engine line-up is nice and simple – a pair of three-cylinder petrols ranging in power from 95-110hp, and a single four-cylinder auto boasting 150hp. They are all familiar from elsewhere in the manufacturer’s range, giving you confidence that they have been tested properly.

Petrol engines

Engine Power and torque
0-62mph time
Top speed
1.0-litre 95 95hp, 175Nm 11.2secs 115mph
1.0-litre 110 110hp, 200Nm 10.2secs 125mph
1.0-litre 110 150hp, 250Nm 9.1secs 130mph

View full specs

There’s a choice of three petrols, all denoted by their TSI badging. The lowest-cost Arona comes with a 95hp 1.0-litre TSI three-cylinder engine and a five-speed gearbox. It feels lively enough around town, but if you spend lots of time on faster roads and motorways, it will feel a little underpowered, especially on steep hills or if you regularly fill the car with passengers and luggage. Unless you’re on a very tight budget, we’d recommend going for the 115hp version.

If you want more acceleration, the 115hp version of the same 1.0 TSI engine Is definitely the one to go for. On the road, the difference between this and the 95hp Arona is night and day. It’s punchy, refined and always feels up to motorway driving – and you rarely need to change down when climbing hills or accelerating. It comes with a choice of six-speed manual or DSG automatic transmissions, both of which are good. If you’re not fussed either way, we’d recommend the manual as it’s cheaper.

The DSG auto can prove hesitant to change down a gear under moderate acceleration causing the engine to labour and vibrate. With no steering wheel-mounted paddles to take manual control you can either change gear manually – by pushing the gearlever to the left and rowing it back and forth – or by selecting the gearbox’s Sport mode. Do this and the transmission feels much better matched to the engine, being more willing to change down a gear under acceleration without revving the engine too high when cruising.

The 1.5-litre TSI Evo petrol engine provides decent performance. Producing 150hp, it’s a great fit in the Arona, with a smooth and punchy power delivery. If you rev it too enthusiastically, the motor can become loud and harsh, with vibrations making themselves felt. Driven more sedately, however, the 150hp engine provides strong performance with little effort from the driver.

Handling

  • Arona is surprisingly sporty to drive
  • It feels confident in corners
  • Has strong levels of grip on offer

Despite sitting noticeably higher up than a typical small hatchback, the way the Arona handles would suggest it’s much smaller and lower to the ground than it really is. It certainly feels a bit sportier than some of its contemporaries. Take it on a twisty road and you’ll notice it leans noticeably less than something like a Citroen C3 Aircross. On 17-inch wheels it deals with potholes well too, but the ride does feel a bit choppier on the 18-inch wheels. However, wind noise in particular makes itself heard around the windscreen pillars and mirrors.

The Arona blends comfort and sportiness well, with good body control through twists and turns. It can become bouncy on more challenging road surfaces, though, and rough tarmac makes itself felt inside, too. The steering is very light, with insufficient feedback through the wheel to feel truly engaged.

If you’re in the mood to change the way the car drives, you can flick between driving modes via the SEAT Drive Profile switch on the centre console. With Normal, Eco, Sport and Individual to choose from, you can flip between set-ups, depending on whether you want a sportier, more involving drive with heavier steering and sharper throttle responses, or a set-up that encourages smoother, more economical driving behaviour.

We’d suggest tweaking the settings in the Individual mix-and-match setting, and going for Normal for the engine and Sport for the steering, just for that extra bit of weight.