Seat swam against the SUV tide for a long time. Eventually, however, the Spanish company joined the craze, launching the well-received Ateca.
A year or so down the line it’s expanded its line up. The Arona is a small SUV based on the Ibiza supermini and built to rival the Nissan Juke, Renault Captur and Suzuki Vitara.
One thing it has in its favour is looks. Seat has some of the most nicely designed cars in its segment and the Arona is no exception.
It’s well proportioned with smart details and will appeal to a wider range of tastes than the love-it-or-loathe-it Nissan Juke.
Prices stretch from a little over £16,500 to around the £25,000 mark.
It’s available with a 1.0 litre turbocharged petrol engine that comes in two strengths: 94 and 114bhp. There’s a 1.6 litre diesel available with exactly the same two outputs – 94 and 114bhp.
At the top of the range is a 1.5 litre turbo petrol unit with 148bhp.
There’s the usual array of trim levels, with higher spec models having the option of dynamic chassis control for better ride and handling, as well as an excellent seven-speed DSG transmission.
While not as big as Suzuki’s capacious Vitara, the Arona’s interior is bigger than it looks. The car is 8cm longer than the Ibiza on which it’s based and 10cm taller.
That gives you the elevated driving position people prefer over hatchbacks, while head and legroom both improve on the Ibiza. At 400 litres, the boot’s around 15% bigger as well.
I spent a week driving the entry level basic SE model with the cheapest 94bhp petrol engine.
Although it wasn’t loaded with equipment or endowed with Ferrari -beating performance, it’s a very good drive.
The little engine is zippy around town and smooth on the motorway. I had a couple of journeys from Dundee to Edinburgh and the Arona is a surprisingly adept long distance machine, with its compact size ensuring it’s nimble in city driving too.
Being tall, it doesn’t handle like a Ford Focus or a VW Golf but it’s as handy as any of its rivals through the corners.
Entry level models might not have all the bells and whistles but the interior’s neatly designed and there’s a smart touchscreen to control most functions.
Seat may be new to the SUV party but the Spanish company has quickly caught up with the pack.