+ Stylish design
+ Great to drive
+ Spacious for passengers
- Interior feels cheap in places
- Infotainment is tricky to use
- Rivals have slightly bigger boots
Verdict: The Seat Arona remains a good looking, great-to-drive small SUV with plenty of equipment and space. It's still a bit bland inside, mind, and its infotainment has taken a step backwards regards usability.
If you want a small SUV, you are not short of choice. As well as the Seat Arona, there's the Volkswagen T-Cross and T-Roc, Skoda Kamiq, Audi Q2, Peugeot 2008, Citroen C3 Aircross, Hyundai Bayun, Nissan Juke, Ford Puma...you get the idea.
Amazingly, there are more to add to that list, so standing out is difficult. Although that's been easier than most for the Seat Arona, which has always been a sharp-suited little SUV.
For 2022, though, it gets a new grille, bumpers and spoiler, upgraded LED headlights across the range and new paint colours and alloy wheel designs to keep the Arona looking fresh in this crowded class.
Inside there hasn't been as much change, save some new air vent surrounds in various colours depending on your trim with additional ambient lighting. Otherwise, it's the same logically laid out, solidly-built dashboard as before, although still a little bland, featuring some cheap-feeling plastics here and there. Peugeot's effort is more interesting and Audi's higher-quality.
What has changed is the Arona's infotainment, which is now an 8 or 9-inch touchscreen depending on which model you buy. All the features you want and need are there including standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but we're not convinced about the new menu structure, which is harder to navigate while driving than the Arona's old one. VW's menus are easier to follow.
There's nothing wrong with the Arona's interior space, which is still generous as small SUVs go. Four adults will sit comfortably inside, but five will be a squeeze – the latter being the same as any other SUV listed above. The Arona's boot isn't the biggest around but is above average for this class too.
The Arona's engine options haven't changed for 2022, meaning purely petrol power is still on the menu. Your choices are a 95hp 1.0-litre three-cylinder or the same engine wicked-up to 110hp. Or, a 1.5 four-cylinder with 150hp. Depending on the model, a five or six-speed manual, or seven-speed dual-clutch auto are available, but all Aronas are front-wheel drive.
The sweet spot of all this is the 110hp 1.0-litre, with a manual or automatic gearbox. Whichever you choose, the Arona feels firmer than your average small SUV but never truly uncomfortable, plus corners with more agility than the average small SUV as a result. The Arona is comfier once the motorway and feels like a grown-up car for longer journeys.
Which, all-told, leaves the Seat Arona amongst the best small SUVs. There are slightly bigger boots, simpler infotainment systems and classier cabins, but the differences are marginal and you'll have more fun driving and looking at the Seat.
While Seats have typically been the easiest on the eye of the VW Group stable, their interiors haven't always followed suit. The same is true here.
OK, so the margins are fairly small – it's not like a Volkswagen T-Cross or Skoda Kamiq are Rolls-Royce-like inside. Plus, everything in the Arona feels built to last and its new air vent surrounds do at least lift the ambience.
However, despite the new look, the Arona's cabin is still pretty bland next to its competition, and some of its plastics lower down do feel a tad cheap.
There are bigger changes regards the Arona's infotainment system. It's now an 8.25-inch screen on entry-level cars, but from second-rung SE Technology grows to a 9.2-inch screen and adds built-in sat-nav. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on both.
Which is lucky, because the system has taken a step backwards in terms of its menu structure. It's similar to the one in the latest Cupras, meaning there are too many inputs needed to operate it and its response times seem a little slow. Of course, plug in your iPhone or Android smartphone and that problem is solved.
Still, from FR Sport trim you get a slick set of digital dials that are vivid, colourful and easily customisable with the info you want.
The Seat Arona's dimensions haven't changed for 2022, so it remains a decently spacious and practical small SUV.
There's room for four adults to sit comfortably, although if you're more than about 6ft 2in you'll have your knees against the front seatbacks. Five adults is a real squeeze, but then that's the same for any SUV of this type.
And, of course, if you have two or three small children to ferry about, you'll need a bigger car. The Arona's rear door open wide and it comes with Isofix points on its outside rear seats, but you'll need to push the front seats quite a way forward to get a rear-facing baby seat in behind.
Still, at 400 litres the Arona's boot is a good size amongst its peers, if ultimately smaller than cars like the Skoda Kamiq and VW T-Cross. Its rear seats split 60:40 and fold almost flat too.
Seat has completely done away with diesel power for the Arona and there are no hybrids either. The line-up is purely petrol powered.
Your choices are a 95hp 1.0-litre three-cylinder or the same engine wicked-up to 110hp. Or, a 1.5 four-cylinder with 150hp. Depending on the model, a five or six-speed manual, or seven-speed dual-clutch auto are available, but all Aronas are front-wheel drive.
The sweet spot of all this is the 110hp 1.0-litre, with a manual or automatic gearbox. It's got better legs outside town than the 95hp and comes with a six-speed manual rather than the five-speed for a quieter motorway drive. There isn't a large fuel economy penalty, either.
Across the broad spectrum of small SUVs, the Seat Arona has always sat at the sportier end. The same is still true after this facelift for 2022.
Clearly, it's no sports car, but it does steering more precisely than most, doesn't lean much in tight bends and generally corners tidily when you want to push a little harder on a country road.
The trade-off is that while it offers great visibility and is very easy to manoeuvre in town, it does feel slightly firmer than most of its rivals – especially Aronas with larger alloy wheels fitted.
On the motorway at higher speeds it's more comfortable than around town, and feels like a grown-up car to drive in terms of how planted it remains and the power it has on tap for overtaking if you avoid the entry-level engine.
Even better, lane-keep tech is standard on every model to help out (you can switch it off if you hate this sort of thing) and adaptive cruise control is standard on the top two trims or optional on mid-range ones. It's a great system that's worth adding if you have the budget.