Motor Mouth – May 2018

Dan Woods
Editor-in-chief, Senior Reviewer

As I write this column the weather forecast is promising a brief spell of 20-odd degree heat. I sincerely hope that as you read this column we are well on the way towards summer. I know that, mentally at least, I’m already there.

In this column I want to take a look at a couple more compact Family SUVs. There are lots of them out there, and a higher ride height seems to be the popular choice in favour of the ‘traditional’ family hatchback.

First up is the Seat Arona. Crudely, this is an Ibiza on stilts, but in reality it’s a lot more than that. I tested an FR model, with some neat sporty styling: from aggressive bumpers to signature LED headlights all wrapped up in a two-tone Desire red with black roof and mirrors. The Arona offers many styling customisation options, so you can be as creative as you like.

The engine was a new one too: a 1.5-litre TSI petrol engine. Turbocharged and mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox, it offered up 150PS and 250Nm, giving the Arona some poke. 0-62mph takes 8.3 seconds and the top speed is 127mph. The engine itself is rev-happy, and has a lot of character about it, whilst claiming 55.4mpg on the combined cycle.

The standard specification of the Arona in FR trim is quite good. Full LED headlights, interior ambient lighting, selectable drive profiles, electric folding mirrors and a connectivity pack – comprising 8-inch touchscreen, satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity, wireless phone charging and a couple of USB ports – all make the Arona an enjoyable car to own.

Like most compact SUVs the Arona is a little cramped on rear legroom, and whilst the boot is good for shopping trips it can be a bit of a squeeze with larger prams/buggies. And with my test car costing £21,465 at least the price is compact too.

Another car with lots of personalisation options is the Audi Q2. A little bigger than the Arona, this model stands out from the rest of the Audi line up with striking lines like it was designed with just a ruler.

My S-Line test car was finished in ‘Vegas Yellow’ and this is as loud and as out there as it comes. Complimenting the visual package were 18-inch grey alloy wheels, full-LED headlights, a sports bodykit and twin exhaust.

Inside I had sports seats finished in fine Nappa leather (an extra £1,250) as well as the brilliant Virtual Cockpit: a 12.3-inch fully digital dashboard incorporating dials, trip computer, media information and satellite-imagery navigation which always wows passengers.

The drivetrain was the best bit of the Q2 for me: a 2.0-litre TFSI petrol engine with Quattro 4WD and a 7-speed S-Tronic dual-clutch gearbox. With 190PS and 320Nm of torque it can go from 0-62mph in a hot-hatch-rivalling 6.5 seconds and on to a top speed of 141mph. Settle down into ‘Eco’ drive mode and the Q2 boasts 44.8mpg on the combined cycle.

The Q2 is a fantastic car to drive, and if you get the adaptive damping it has composed handling too. In fact, I would actually call it quick. The interior is more suited to a growing family, with decent rear leg room and boot space.

The base price of my test car was £31,760. To this, many options were added, such that it weighed in at a rather eye-watering £38,375. For a compact SUV that’s a little steep: you have to be careful of the options list. Some are potentially worth buying though, like the Comfort and Sound Pack (£995) which features Bang & Olufsen Sound, front and rear parking sensors and heated front seats.

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