SEAT's update to the Ibiza means that its crossover twin, the Arona also benefits from the facelift treatment. On the market since 2017, the Arona has been a popular choice with SUV looks, practical space and a good level of equipment. The update now gives it more of everything and we've driven it in the UK before it arrives in Ireland for 2022.
In the Metal:
The exterior changes to the SEAT Arona are minimal, but enough to give it a bit of a fresh look. The biggest design alteration is to the front bumper, which has more prominent fog lights in the centre line between the grille and the lower valance. It's all part of an attempt to give the Arona more of an adventure-seeking lifestyle look. That also means a bit more cladding, as well as a new rear bumper and some new wheel designs. There are new colour choices too, together with the option to have a contrasting colour on the roof, but the big changes are all inside.
The cabin has been completely refreshed with new materials, new trim colours and more tech. SEAT also made a big thing of telling us that there's now a rear-seat interior light, which customers have been specifically asking for and which we were surprised wasn't there already.
Tech includes wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as optional wireless phone charging. Owners can now use the SEAT Connect app that allows you to check in on your car, lock or unlock it and do other stuff. Then there's the easy-to-use touchscreen infotainment system that is now available up to 10.25 inches across the diagonal and has a cleverly designed ledge in front of it so you can rest your hand to avoid the issue of pressing the wrong icon. It not only removes that frustration but is also safer because you can pay more attention to the road ahead, as you should.
Safety is also increased through more driver assistance systems such as lane keeping assist and cruise control, the latter now being standard across the Arona range.
Optional on some and standard on others is the digital Virtual Cockpit instrumentation display that has a few personalisation options and brings the Arona into line with some of its Volkswagen Group siblings.
While there are also new materials, trim colours and luxurious Nappa leather on the steering wheel, there remain some very hard plastics throughout the cabin, including the top of the door panels for those up front and the whole door panels for those in the rear.
The UK test car was an 'FR Sport' model, one that may not be offered on the Irish market. It sits 15mm lower than other models and the suspension is slightly firmer, something that is noticeable on bumpier pieces of road. It's still comfortable though, providing a good compromise between handling and comfort the majority of the time.
The DSG gearbox has its usual issue of being slightly hesitant at times, especially when it doesn't seem to be talking to the stop-start system properly and you do need to be cautious when pulling out of intersections in case there's a lag. Otherwise, power from the 110hp TSI engine is readily available and there is a choice of Eco, Normal or Sport settings, depending on your mood. Not surprisingly, Eco dials back the power a little to improve your consumption while Sport firms up the steering and gives you quicker throttle response. In this segment it's a little gimmicky but the Sport setting definitely delivers a bit of added fun when you want it.
Noise and vibration are remarkably low for a car in this price bracket and the overall feel is of a crossover that is not just practical and stylish, but easy to live with in town and on the open road.
What you get for your Money:
SEAT hasn't yet confirmed Irish pricing for the new Arona, but we expect there to be a slight increase given the numerous additional features, especially when it comes to technology, over the old one. Even so, it should continue to represent great value for money in the competitive crossover segment.
The updates might seem minor but the changes inside in terms of tech are a massive improvement for the SEAT Arona. It has a long list of competitors, not least of all within the Volkswagen Group itself. Its combination of style, practicality and tech, not to mention value for money, make it a superb all-rounder that could see it prove as popular as ever for SEAT.