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Ibiza Plus: SEAT conjures a crossover from a world-famous hatchback

SEAT'S newest model the Arona is a compact crossover aimed at couples and families. As the SUV wars continue to heat up, how does it compare?

SEAT has taken its popular Ibiza hatchback and transformed it into a classic crossover fit for the modern world.

It's a rival to the likes of the Nissan Juke, Hyundai Kona, Kia Stonic and Renault Captur in an increasingly competitive segment of the market.

What's it like?

The Arona takes the best of the current Ibiza and ads in the high-driving position and other goodies that have made compact crossovers so suddenly desirable.

But what do you get for your money, apart from a smaller version of the impressive SEAT Ateca SUV?

Well, you get a rather nice slice of the compact crossover status symbol: a funky looking, modern, well-designed and well-built small SUV.

It's more than just a shrunken Ateca; the very latest Ibiza technology has been packed on board so it is if anything slightly more modern.

Space and kerb appeal

First off, though, don't let the comparison with the Ibiza fool you. The Arona - it's named after a region of Tenerife around Playa de las Americas, by the way - is roomier than you might expect.

Occupant headroom is good front and rear, and the boot has a decent 400-litre storage capacity, which rises to 823-litres when the rear seats are laid flat.

Parents in particular will be pleased with the cubbyholes and other storage options dotted around the cabin.

It's an attractive-looking car that comes in a range of bright new colours - including Desire Red and Mystery Blue - and up to 30 different combinations for contrasting finishes on the lower body and roof and pillars. (Roof colours are black, grey and orange).

Under the bonnet

The Arona comes at launch with a good choice of engines, starting off with the entry-level 1.0-litre turbo petrol unit in either 94 or 114 bhp guises, mated to a choice of gearboxes, all sending power to the front wheels only.

After this, there are economical diesel choices and a powerful 148bhp 1.5-litre petrol turbo only available in sporty FR-spec cars.

All the engines in the range feature direct injection, turbocharging and stop-start technology.

The trim choice is wide; six to be precise, dovetailing with other SEAT models, with SE, FR and Xcellence, but, with each level expanded into additional versions that add in more equipment: SE Technology, FR Sport and Xcellence Lux.

It lacks sheer range of models of the likes of the Nissan Juke, but makes up for this with its level of personalisation options.

Entry-level models

Entry-level SE grade is well-specced including metallic paint as standard, 17-inch alloy wheels, bi-colour roof, black roof rails, chrome front grille, power-adjustable door mirrors, LED daytime running lights and tail lights, front cornering fog lights and automatic headlights.

Inside, there's air con, height-adjustable front seats, a handy double boot floor, and a bunch of other kit.

SEAT's Media System Colour provides a five-inch touchscreen, six-speaker audio with FM/AM/DAB radio, Bluetooth and aux-in/USB connections.

There are a raft of safety and driver assistance features also including Front Assist, Multi-Collision Braking, Hill Hold Control, Tiredness Recognition System and a full complement of front-side-curtain airbags.

As you'd expect, SE Technology plugs in even more tech including an 8-inch colour screen, Apple and Android phone connectivity and a wireless phone charger.

Higher trim models

SEAT is known for its sporty FR brand, and Arona FR trim adds in a suite of hot hatch-style extras like 18-inch Performance alloys, sports-tuned suspension and SEAT Drive Profile, which lets the driver adjust vehicle performance and handling through four different modes: Normal, Sport, Eco, Individual). FR Sport trim is even more hot-hatchy.

Xcellence trim wants to be a bit more sophisticated, with a Storage Pack, keyless-entry-and-go, front seatback storage pockets, Blind Spot Detection and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.

The Arona Xcellence Lux raises the bar with 18-inch Performance alloys, black Alcantara (synthetic suede) upholstery, the SEAT Drive Profile, front parking sensors, a rear-view camera and Park Assist and a Beats Sound System.

Who would buy one?

Prices range from £16,555 for the SE 1.0 TSI 95 to £24,040 for the range-topping Xcellence Lux 1.6 TDI.

All in, this is a car aimed at young families, singletons, couples and anyone who wants a small hatchback-type car that's been jacked and specced-up to crossover status.

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