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Arona joins SEAT’s growing SUV line-up 

SEAT has stepped up its battle for sales in the compact crossover market.

A second SUV arrived in the UK earlier this year – the Arona being a baby brother to Ateca.

And the Spanish branch of the Volkswagen Group is set to expand its SUV family with a seven-seater due later in 2018.

I loved the Ateca when I attended its launch back in September 2016 and it has become a popular choice in this market.

And I was equally im-pressed by the Arona after my recent first drive in it.

Based on SEAT’s new Ibiza hatchback – another little favourite of mine – the Arona has a high driving position and has greater ground clearance.

It has a robust, distinctive crossover look and doesn’t lack style with its two-colour roof/body.

My test model’s Desire Red metallic body and Monsoon Grey metallic roof drew plenty of admiring looks.

There are no options available in the six trim levels – SE, SE Technology, FR, FR Sport, Xcellence and Xcellen-ce Lux.

Buyers get what they see on the spec sheet and SEAT doesn’t come up short on that front.

The majority of press test cars are top-of-the-range models and can have thou-sands of pounds worth of extras on them.

But my test model was an entry-level SE – and I wasn’t disappointed with the level of equipment on this.

It included 17-inch alloys, cruise control, automatic head-lights, LED daytime running lights, body colour door handles and mirror hous-ings, electrically adjustable door mirrors.

The interior with its blue cloth upholstery didn’t disa-ppoint and its spec included chrome trim details, height and reach-adjustable steering wheel, SEAT media system, radio with DAB reception, Bluetooth audio streaming and hands-free phone operation, five-inch colour touchscreen, USB port Aux-in, SD card slot, steering wheel-mounted controls and air-con with dust and pollen filter.

You don’t get a spare wheel in what is a good-sized boot – 400 litres expanding to 1,280 litres with rear seats folded and loaded to the roof.

There is an emergency tyre repair kit and handy plug-in tyre inflator that I found useful when the tyre pressure monitoring warning informed me I had low pressure on one of the rear tyres.

The Arona comes with a choice of three petrol engines – 1.0-litre with 95ps and 115ps outputs and 1.5-litre 150ps – and 1.6-lire diesel units also with 95ps and 115ps,

My model was an SE 1.0 TSI 95ps and its power came through a five-speed manual gearbox.

I’ve sampled this three-cylinder turbo petrol before and it never fails to impress.

It needs a bit of work going up and down the gears at times but is much perkier than you would imagine.

Speed is gathered quickly enough with a standstill to 62mph time of 11.2 seconds and this model has a top speed of 107mph.

It was never too noisy and offered good mid-range acceleration when required.

The Arona is ideal for town driving and it was also a sure-footed performer when tackling winding roads, with great agility and grip.

Ride comfort in what is a spacious cabin, up front and back, was also top notch and there was little wind, road or engine noise when cruising at motorway speeds.

Fuel economy figures are impressive – 57.6mpg combined, 67.3mpg extra urban and 46.3mpg urban.

If you’re looking for a small SUV make sure the Arona is on your list.

It’s already made an instant impact in the UK – helping SEAT to achieve a 14.47 per cent year to date sales increase by April.

The overall market declin-ed by 8.82 per cent over the same period in 2017.

The newly-arrived Arona grabbed 999 of April’s sales as SEAT notched up 23,705 new car registrations during the first four months of 2018 – up 2,997 on its 20,708 sales for the same period of last year.

That made SEAT the fastest growing volume car brand in the UK up to April as overall sales dropped from 972,092 to 886,400.