With new compact crossovers seeming to appear on the market virtually every week, any newcomer needs to be a bit special to stand out from the crowd.

Thankfully SEAT’s Arona, the baby brother to the Ateca, is just that.

It neatly slips the high driving position so prized in sports utility vehicles into a smart, sleek and sporty-looking hatchback.

It also takes edgy design cues from other SEAT cars, like the Ibiza and Leon, to let it slide seamlessly into the Spanish car maker’s line-up.

Designed and engineered in Barcelona, the Arona, like the fifth-generation Ibiza, is built on Volkswagen Group’s quirkily-named ‘MQB A0’ supermini model platform and is available in the UK exclusively as a front-wheel-drive, five-door, five-seater.

The car was launched with a choice of three petrol and two diesel engines and is driven here powered by a 115 horsepower, 1.0-litre TSI three-cylinder petrol engine, mated to a seven-speed semi-automatic gearbox, in reasonably priced SE Technology trim.

Hop aboard and the most surprising aspect of the car is that it is much more spacious inside than the compact exterior might lead you to believe, with plenty of legroom for everyone on board and bags of headroom.

The boot too is capacious with easy-to-fold rear seats that when dropped down open up a small van-like carrying capacity.

A bit longer and taller than the Ibiza, the Arona uses the Ibiza’s clear and clean dashboard and instrumentation.

With a height-adjustable driver’s seat and adjustable steering column you quickly find a comfortable driving position.

On the move the Arona is composed and competent with nicely-weighted precise steering, making it as much fun on the open road as it is easy to manage around town.

Safety systems are advanced with the likes of radar-operated front assist that constantly monitors the gap ahead of the car and can automatically apply the brakes if necessary, fitted to all versions of the new Arona.

Another standard system is tiredness recognition that detects when the driver has become tired and sounds an alert, recommending you take a break from the wheel. The system learns your style of driving over the course of a journey, monitoring the way the steering wheel is used. It notices when there is a deviation from the normal pattern of behaviour that may be a sign that the driver has become tired and is losing attention. At that point it

sounds an alert and flashes up a tea-cup symbol in the information display to try to persuade you to pull over.

Adaptive cruise control, rear cross traffic alert and blind spot detection are standard on higher grades.

SEAT has no options list for the Arona and even the entry-level SE model comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, automatic headlights and DAB radio.

Moving up to SE Technology specification fitted here gives you a classy eight-inch touchscreen — a five-inch version is fitted to the entry-level model — that adds to the neat, business-like feel of the interior. This smart system delivers DAB radio and the ability to link to smartphones, along with voice control, two USB inputs and both aux-in and SD card inputs. There is also a wireless phone-charging pad.

SEAT says the world market for compact crossovers has grown four-fold since 2015 and expects that growth to continue, with a larger, seven-seater SEAT SUV expected to be launched before the end of the year.

Auto facts

Model: SEAT Arona SE Technology 1.0 TSI 115 PS 7-speed DSG

Price: £18,945

Insurance group: 8E (1-50)

Fuel consumption (combined): 56.5mpg

Top speed: 113mph

Length: 413.8cm/162.9in

Width: 178cm/70in

Luggage capacity: 14.1 cu ft

Fuel tank capacity: 8.8 gallons/40 litres

CO2 emissions: 113 g/km

Warranty: Three years/ 60,000 miles