Parkers overall rating: 4.2 out of 5 4.2
  • Very easy to get comfortable
  • Good visibility all-round
  • Even sporty FR models ride smoothly
  • Plenty of space inside, too

In case you're wondering, the Arona is named after a town on the Spanish island of Tenerife. But it's more like Torquay than Tenerife inside.

There's nothing particularly wrong with it, but it's all just a bit grey and serious. All of the buttons and dials, and even the clutch and gearbox feel solid in a way that other, particularly French cars don't. But there is a little bit of sparkle missing from it all, especially as this is supposed to be a SEAT, and therefore quite fashionable.

It does at least feel grown up, with the dashboard being available in a choice of different colours and materials. The leather with contrast stitching on higher-spec models is particularly nice and tactile.

The dashboard design is identical to that in the SEAT Ibiza, which is a good thing – we like the simple control layout, decent build quality and excellent infotainment set-up of that car. For someone coming to the Arona for the first time, it’s very easy to get used to, with a big touchscreen-based media system that’s simple to use and angled slightly towards the driver so you can operate it easily.

There’s plenty of adjustment in the driver's and passenger seats and the steering wheel, so you can sit as high or low as you like, depending how much you want to feel like you’re driving an SUV on tip-toes. Or not. Finding your perfect driving position is straightforward.

Is it comfortable?

Yes. Despite its sporty design, the Arona soaks up lumps and bumps in the road well. A comfortable ride remains even in models with larger alloy wheels fitted (the largest you can have are 18 inches in diameter). Aronas stay composed over broken surfaces, with only the very worst imperfections causing shudders through the cabin.

The higher-spec FR trim feels the sportiest, but the flip side is that it can bounce over big bumps in the road and skitter over imperfections. With smaller wheels fitted on more modest models, the Arona is more accomplished at smoothing out potholes and cracks in the road.

Overall though, the SEAT Arona is a comfortable place to spend time in, with good seats in higher-spec models for taller drivers offering plenty of under-thigh support and bolstering, and good visibility all-round. Some may find the sportier seats in FR models uncomfortable, with plenty of side support to hold you in place during cornering, but a lack of lower back support can make some drivers feel pushed into sitting in a slouched position.

What might disturb the peace is the amount of wind noise heard around the windscreen pillars and door mirrors. At motorway speeds it’s quite loud – and the large alloy wheels can throw up a reasonable amount of noise on a rough road surface too. If comfort is a priority for you, we'd recommend sticking to an SE or SE Technology on the standard wheels – plumping for the larger 18-inchers simply worsens the ride and doesn't really gain you anything in terms of handling.

Space in the final row is actually pretty good and there's plenty of head room and knee room, even for six-footers. Two adults can comfortably sit in the back here without getting in each other's way. There is a bit of a hump in the middle, and the middle seat is a bit thin. Three people on longish journeys is probably a bit of a stretch.

The Isofix points are hidden and fiddly to get to.

Worth saving up for? Beats Audio

Should you opt for the Beats audio system in the SEAT Arona Xcellence Lux or SE Technology Lux models? This is what we found in our six-month extended test of the Arona.

Overall the stereo handled most tracks we played, although this is not really a top-end hi-fi. It sounded reasonably good for mobile entertainment and did the job required, although the sound quality seems to be tailored towards a younger crowd. Our tester commented on the low distortion, decent bass and a crisp enough sound, but we're not sure it's worth upgrading to. See the long term review for a more in-depth analysis.

Conclusion: No great shakes

Worth saving up for? Navigation system

A highlight of the Arona’s tech spec is the premium-looking 8.0-inch black-panel touchscreen and sat nav, which is standard on all models bar entry-level SE trim. The screen fitted to the base model, however, is a more dated-looking 5.0-inch display that looks tiny and low-resolution.

If you want an up-to-date media system in your car, it’s well worth spending a little more on an SE Technology or FR trim level. It’s a brilliant sat-nav. We love how you can also access the Android Auto, Apple CarPlay or Mirror Link apps if you want your smartphone to do the donkey work, but we found the on-board navigation really easy to use with fast feedback and response.

It’s a great unit with a very comprehensive, user-friendly interface that’s a cinch to use. It works well and rarely gets things wrong. We love the ‘alternative route’ functionality when road conditions change, such as if you encounter a blocked road because of an accident ahead. It could save you hours of queuing.

Conclusion: an excellent sat-nav system

Worth saving up for? Adaptive cruise control (ACC)

Adaptive Cruise Control uses a front radar system to keep you a set distance from the car in front, moderately accelerating and decelerating in the flow of traffic. The function is activated via a control lever on the left-hand side of the steering column and can be a real stress reliever on a long motorway journey.

Once the driver has set their desired speed and the distance they want to keep from the vehicles in front, the Arona automatically regulates these factors as traffic conditions allow.

It’s that simple and works a dream. The driver can intervene in the process at any time by pressing down on the accelerator to exceed the maximum speed selected, or by braking to deactivate the system entirely.

Conclusion: advanced cruise control is brilliant for long-distance drivers