Best Buys Compact Crossover: Seat scores with the biggest boot in the class
Our choice of the best compact crossovers on the market right now
Best One: Seat Arona
The fact is that the Arona is really quite a dull car, but that is an inconvenient truth that one must simply brush aside if you’re to get the best car in what is a frequently underwhelming class of cars. Small crossovers require you to suspend your critical faculties. Why? Because the Arona is basically an Ibiza with a loft conversion that costs (give or take) as much to buy as a Leon. There’s no sense in it, but the Arona at least makes some sense by having one of the biggest boots in the class at 400-litres. That at least makes it practical as a family hack-about, plus it’s quite nice looking, has a pleasant interior, good comfort, and the 115hp 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine is a class-leader for performance and economy. Just always remember - an Ibiza is barely any less practical and much better value, while a Leon is virtually the same price and much bigger and classier.
Best model: 1.0 TSI Xcellence 115hp for €22,815 Price range: €17,995 to €25,795. Finance from €199 per month. Co2 emissions: 105 to 115g/km Sum up: It’s the best, but in this class that’s not that great
We like the Vitara because it’s kind of an honest car. It has a tough-edged, no-nonsense attitude about things, as displayed by its slightly plain interior, and the fact that if you spec it up with the optional four-wheel drive system, it really can tackle some very tricky terrain. Then there’s Suzuki’s reliability factor, which should mean you’’re looking at years of problem-free service. Bonuses? Well, it’s really quite handsome, reasonably spacious (although it does suffer from the small-boot syndrome that afflicts most small crossovers) and the sporty 140hp BoosterJet-S model is genuinely fun to drive. Good standard equipment too.
Best model: 1.4 S AllGrip for €27,995 Price range: €21,995 to €31,495. Finance from €245 per month. Co2 emissions: 106 to 127g/km Sum up: Solid and simple
Thankfully, the Kona is the kick-starter for some rather more radical work in the styling department for Hyundai. Don’t believe us? Look at the new Santa Fe, which is basically a Kona put through the photocopier on ‘embiggen.’ Given that it’s quite a compact car, there’s a lot of styling squeezed into the Kona’s footprint, so a sober colour scheme works best, but once you’ve worked that out it starts to look pretty classy. There’s decent space in the cabin too (small boot though - plus ca change in this class…) but while everything inside works well, some of the cabin fixtures do feel a bit cheap. It’s fine to drive, albeit nothing more than that, and keep an eye on the price as it soon stretches well into i30 and i30 estate territory.
Best model: Executive 1.0 T-GDI for €22,995 Price range: €20,995 to €30,595. Finance from €388 per month. Co2 emissions: 117 to 153g/km Sum up: Striking styling, but ordinary underneath
Given the arrival of the new Stonic, you might expect the Soul’s case to fall apart a bit, but actually the reverse is true, and the Soul ends up exposing the Stonic for the too-cheap-inside thing that it is. The Soul has managed to maintain its predecessor’s concept-car styling, so it looks funky on the outside, while the interior is spacious and rather better-built than is the norm for this class. It’s also quite pleasant to drive, but the downside is that there’s only one trim level (EX) and only one engine option (1.6 diesel). Still worth a look, though.
Best model: 1.6 EX for €24,495 Price range: €24,495. Finance from €280 per month. Co2 emissions: 128g/km Sum up: Better than the Stonic
Wild Card: Citroen C3 Aircross
Citroen has somehow managed to re-awaken its design department in recent years, so the new C3 Aircross looks rather exciting, or at least excitingly different to most rivals. If the small crossover segment has one thing going for it, it’s that buyers seem to appreciate more distinctive styling, which is only a good thing. Thankfully Citroen plays a strong game in the cabin, which looks more interesting, and feels better-made than that of most rivals. Space is good too (the boot can be expanded to a whopping, for the class, 520-litres) depending on what you do with the back seats, and we like the ‘Venetian Blind’ affectation in the rear pillar. The 1.2 PureTech petrol engine is excellent too. The downside? Soft springing, which is good for comfort, allows too much body roll and too much slop in the handling.
Best model: 1.2 PureTech 110hp Feel for €23,395 Price range: €20,695 to €26,895. Finance from €388 per month. Co2 emissions: 104 to 126g/km Sum up: Pleasantly French