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SEAT joins the small SUV fray in some style.

Byline: Steve Hughes

SEAT is ideally poised to cash in on the soaring demand for small SUVs, which will soon account for half of all new vehicles.

The Spanish car company has three major players in the SUV game, comprising the small Arona, the mid-size Ateca and the large Terraco. The Arona is the company's first foray into the compact crossover class, which contains rivals such as the Nissan Juke and a host of others.

When the Arona first arrived here, sharing the same platform as the latest Ibiza range towards the end of 2017, it was priced from PS16,555, which has now risen to PS17,760.

To make the vehicle stand out from the rest in a crowded market there are half a dozen choices of trim and equipment, consisting of SE, FR, XCELLENCE, SE Technology, FR Sport and XCELLENCE Lux.

The SE grade includes 17in alloy wheels, bi-colour roof, black roof rails, chrome front grille, power-adjustable door mirrors, front cornering fog lights and automatic headlights.

Tech-wise there is SEAT's Media System Colour with a 6in touchscreen, six-speaker audio with DAB radio, Bluetooth and aux-in/USB connections.

Safety features include Multi-Collision Braking, Hill Hold Control and Tiredness Recognition System.

The SE Technology models upgrade with the Connectivity Pack Plus that includes a larger, 8in colour touchscreen and proximity sensor plus a navigation package with 3D map display and voice control. SEAT Full Link provides connection with compatible smartphones.

Among the petrol engines on offer are a one-litre 95bhp unit mated to a five-speed manual gearbox, which is also available in 115bhp guise with a six-speed manual shifter or automatic DSG transmission.

Economy is 55mph, with CO2 emissions of 111g/km. My test model was the FR grade, with 17in alloys, full LED headlights, chrome roof rails, darktinted rear windows, twin tailpipes and heated and folding door mirrors with casings that match the contrast roof colour. Inside, the FR boasts sports front seats and a flat-bottom steering wheel, multi-colour ambient lighting and FR-exclusive trim details.

The suspension is sports-tuned, and it includes rain-sensing wipers and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, plus more. FR and FR Sport models use a 1.5-litre engine generating 150bhp and incorporating automatic cylinder deactivation.

This means that half of the engine automatically shuts down when it is not needed, such as when cruising.

Finally there is a diesel option in the shape of a 1.6-litre unit with a choice of 95bhp or 115bhp.

There is no doubt that whichever combination you choose the Arona is a class act and worthy of serious consideration.

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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Steve Hughes
Publication:Sunday Sun (Newcastle, England)
Date:Feb 9, 2020
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