2018 SEAT Arona SUV

After months of teasing and the odd leaked image, SEAT has finally revealed the Arona compact SUV – by air lifting it across the Barcelona coastline. When it goes on sale towards the end of 2017, it’ll go up against the Renault Captur and Nissan Juke in a growing and competitive sector.

2018 SEAT Arona styling

To establish a familiar family face, SEAT has styled the Arona to look very similar to the new Ibiza hatchback. The same trapezoidal grille sits prominently between triangular headlights with LED daytime signatures, while similarly aggressive lower air intakes ensure the turbocharged engine range remains cool. Heavy creases down the sides help break up the bodywork while the rear has angular brakelights that match the headlights.

One of the most noticeable differences between the Arona and the Ibiza – aside from the Arona’s raised SUV ride height – is the contrasting roof. The car revealed by SEAT has dark grey body panels and an orange contrasting roof that stretches from the base of the windscreen to the kink in the rear side windows. It’s not clear whether this feature will be standard across the Arona range or – more likely – offered as a cost option on mid and high-end trims.

2018 SEAT Arona interior

Inside, very little has changed between the Arona and the Ibiza. The cabin is still focused around a central touchscreen infotainment system with clear menus, responsive controls and handy shortcut buttons for jumping between functions. This system also supports Mirrorlink, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto meaning you can use some of your phone’s apps on the move such as sat nav and internet radio stations. What’s more, you can select optional wireless charging and signal boosting to save on carrying clunky wires around.

The Ibiza already impressed us with its interior space so it’s a safe bet the Arona will, too. A taller roofline combined with a generally bigger body means there should be modest gains for every passenger in terms of headroom, legroom and shoulder room. The boot will also benefit from a mild increase compared to the Ibiza, plus the car’s higher ride height means you won’t need to stoop as much to lower shopping in.

2018 SEAT Arona driving

SEAT has often marketed itself as a sportier relation to VW so we expect the Arona’s driving experience to echo this. Sharing the Ibiza’s platforms means we expect there to be very limited body roll through corners and controls that are both light to use but reassuringly accurate. It might be firmer than the upcoming VW T-Roc that’ll share the platform but we still expect it to have enough compliance to be comfortable over rough British roads.

Four-wheel drive could be offered as an option on the higher end engines but the majority of Aronas will be sold with two-wheel drive reflecting the fact that most will be driven around the city rather than up muddy hills. It’s possible SEAT could decide to build an Arona Cupra hot hatch featuring a 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine borrowed from the recently revealed VW Polo GTI – this model would feature lower, stiffer suspension and bigger brakes to cope with the extra pace.

2018 SEAT Arona engines

The engine range is, unsurprisingly, also shared with the Ibiza. Entry-level cars will be powered by a 95hp 1.0-litre turbo three-cylinder petrol, with a 115hp version and the firm’s new 150hp 1.5-litre also offered. Diesel buyers get the familiar 1.6-litre engine used throughout the VW Group range with either 95 or 115hp, and will be a better option for those with very high annual mileages.

A five-speed manual gearbox is standard on entry-level models, with more powerful versions getting a six-speed unit. A seven-speed twin-clutch automatic will be optional on the more powerful engines. This gearbox works very well in other VW Group applications, selecting gears sensibly and swiftly, and displaying very little hesitance when you perform a manoeuvre.

2018 SEAT Arona price and release date

SEAT hasn’t yet revealed a pricing structure for the Arona but we reckon you’ll need at least £15,000 to put one on your driveway. It could go on sale as early as November 2017 with most deliveries scheduled for early 2018.

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