It seems as though SEAT has barely been out of the news in 2017. Two major new releases, the latest generation Ibiza and the heavily updated Leon, become three with the impending arrival of the Barcelona-based brand’s first crack of compact crossover whip. The acclaimed 2016 Ateca SUV now has a baby brother to play with in the petite form of the all-new SEAT Arona.
The latest cog in SEAT’s product offensive machine has revealed itself to the media scrum in a glitzy premier Barcelona. Built, unsurprisingly, on the same underpinnings of the newly christened fifth generation Ibiza, the Arona compact crossover is marginally longer than the hatch in whose footsteps it follows. More relevant, however, is the increased height of the Arona, which looms over its platform-mate by a good 10cm. Slim margins on the face of it. However, the holy crossover trinity of greater ground clearance, a higher driving position and a roomier cabin is, in essence, the very rocket fuel mixture that’s propelled CUV sales into the stratosphere in recent years.
The 2017 SEAT Arona, whose trim spans the entry-level Reference version, mid-range Style as well as the sporty FR edition and the fully appointed XCELLENCE, features those triangular headlights you’ll recognise from the updated Leon and new Ibiza. Both front and rear bumpers wear aluminium accents and the Arona also sports a similarly-styled roof rack for that extra dash of visual crossover clout. As with many of its contemporaries, from the Renault Captur to the category-defining Nissan Juke, the Arona is available in two tone, with grey, black or orange for the roof and an more extensive palette for the main body colour.
Whether it’s entry level or top-spec you’re after, the latest compact SUV from Spain provides a sizable 400-litres of boot capacity along with improved head and leg room and a raised centre console compared to the Ibiza hatchback. Dual-mode suspension, meanwhile, and SEAT’s four-mode Drive Profile is strictly the preserve of the more athletic FR edition.
Much like its chassis, the Arona shares an engine line-up with its close relation the Ibiza. That means we can expect five turbocharged units, two diesel and three petrol, to power the SEAT’s new CUV into battle against the Nissan Juke et al. Of the diesel duo, the 1.6 TDI with 114bhp will give you the most grunt and is mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. The petrol equivalent is available with the same power but the additional choice of dual-clutch seven-speed DSG transmission. The Ibiza FR’s new four-cylinder 148bhp TSI is reserved for the corresponding Arona derivative and comes exclusively in a six-speed manual guise.
Front Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, Hill Hold and Keyless Entry are just the tip of the drive assist iceberg with optional extras such as Blind Spot Detection and Park Assistance up for grabs if required.
The newest member of the SEAT clan will make its public debut at the Frankfurt International Motor Show this September, where we’ll learn more about pricing and UK-specific spec. In the meantime, there’s not the merest hint of a siesta at SEAT HQ, as its engineers knuckle down to add the finishing touches to their forthcoming large SUV, scheduled for lift-off in 2018.