SEAT Arona Xcellence 2018 Review

2018 SEAT Arona SE Xcellence Review

I got behind the wheel of the newly released SEAT Arona Xcellence to find out how good this car really is.

What is the 2018 SEAT Arona Xcellence All About?

Following the success of the Ateca, SEAT have added a second SUV to their line-up: the Arona. The model was designed and engineered in Barcelona and is their first entrant into the busy compact crossover segment. The vehicle is based on Volkswagen’s successful AO MQB platform that both the SEAT Ibiza and VW T-Roc already use.

You can see straight away that the Arona is a SEAT model, from its sleek design. Looking at the car from any angle, its streamlined shape catches your eye. Here, you can see our test car finished in Eclipse Orange with a contrasting Monsoon grey roof. It looks very stylish and has a strong presence on the road.

The Xcellence version we tested here is one of the best of the seven trim levels available in the UK. The top-of-the-range model is the Xcellence LUX which features 18″ Performance Alloy wheels, Beats Audio system, Park Assist and SEAT drive profiles. The Arona base model is a well-equipped car but in Xcellence trim it also includes 17” dynamic Machined alloy wheels, blind spot detection, KESSY (keyless entry and go) and rear cross traffic alert.

Powering our SEAT Arona Xcellence test model was a sprightly 1.0-litre TSI, a turbocharged, direct-injected and intercooled three-cylinder engine. It emits 95 PS and 175 Nm of torque. This is reasonable for its size, and remains in line with the engines from its competitors.

The engine is matched to a 6-speed manual transmission that drives the front wheels. Overall, it’s a respectable combination. It allows the Arona to accelerate from 0-62 mph in 9.8 seconds, with a top speed of 113 mph.

The SEAT Arona is very economical and manages 57.6 mpg and only 113 g/km of CO2.

How Does it Drive?

The SEAT Arona has a practical feel and it’s easy to get in and out of. Our model has a keyless ignition: you depress the clutch and press the start button, then pop the car into first gear and remove the manual handbrake to set off.

This vehicle is optimised for urban driving. The steering is easy to operate, the turning circle is good and the 1.0-litre petrol engine responds quickly to driver inputs. This combination made getting around town a breeze!

During my time with the car, I put in a considerable amount of mileage. The Arona is suited to motorway driving achieving high miles per gallon. It features adaptive cruise control which allows it to keep a set gap from the car in front and adjust its speed accordingly.

When it came to country roads, the SEAT Arona Xcellence coped well, despite only having a 1.0-litre engine. It adapted to corners and had plenty of grip. It was an enjoyable car to drive on a long journey.

For those looking for added pleasure from the car, the FR and Xcellence LUX trims come with SEAT drive profiles, allowing you to change the set-up of the car to maximise your driving experience. You can use Eco mode some days and Sport on others, depending how you feel.

For a three-cylinder, it is very smooth and remains refined and quiet. SEAT know how to pick a good small engine. It’s punchy from the off, with bundles of torque available over 2000 rpm.

I tested the car in several different environments and took on some significant bumps. The Arona ironed them out and its suspension is well suited to the UK’s rough roads.

Previously, I have driven both the DSG gearbox and the manual gearbox. In my opinion, the manual gearbox allows you to get more out of the car performance-wise. But the auto box gives you a calmer, more relaxed drive.

Overall, the engine is relatively quiet, unless you push it to high RPM. Engine roar is still noticeable but the cabin is generally hushed.

What is it Like Inside?

The focal point of the interior is an 8″ media system with a colour touchscreen, which includes Satnav, MirrorLink, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless charging plus two USB ports.

In a modern car, even one from a budget range, you shouldn’t have to put up with a terrible interior. The new Arona Xcellence is a prime example. The use of quality materials is inspiring. The touch points like the steering, pedals, gearstick and door handles have been carefully designed to make sure they look and feel right. The interior features make the car great value for money.

While it is classed as a small car on the outside, the inside has TARDIS like dimensions. It can comfortably seat four tall passengers.

The boot is very spacious at 400 litres. The larger wheelbase is really paying off. All in all, the 2018 Arona Xcellence boasts a stylish and functional interior that’s perfectly suited to long distance journeys.

The Experience

The SEAT Arona gives you the practicalities you want out of a modern crossover but offers some exotic design features that bring a playful vibe to the car. Customers are able to personalise the vehicle with a range of alloy wheels, roof colours and some very trendy body colours to choose from.


The Arona Xcellence is an incredibly viable car in this section of the market. If you are looking for a crossover, SEAT have now incorporated extra design features, making this a vibrant option, which is good value for money.

The 1.0-litre engine offers great performance vs economy figures and it is likely to be the best-selling engine over the next few years.

The test car shown here costs £21,040, which is very reasonable. It provides everything you need and if you want a sportier look, the FR trim is a sharper alternative.

The SEAT Arona Xcellence is spacious enough to seat plenty of passengers and it’s ideal for families. It drives well, looks good, and it’s well-equipped. What more can you ask for?

2018 SEAT Arona SE Technology Specs

  • Price: £21,040
  • Engine: 1.0-litre turbocharged 3-cylinder TSI
  • Power: 95 PS
  • Torque: 175 Nm
  • Transmission:  6-speed manual
  • 0-62mph: 9.8 Seconds
  • Top speed: 107 mph
  • Weight: 1,165 kg
  • Economy: 57.6 mpg
  • CO2: 113 g/km

Author: Paul Hadley