It seemed improbable at the start, but I have bonded with the Arona. Three months in, and more than 4,500 miles later, I see past its shortcomings, at least for the most part. The springy, long-travel clutch no long bothers me, while the over-servoed brakes now seem perfectly normal. I have even become accustomed to it freaking out when it cannot differentiate between a bend in the road and a car parked car on a bend. I am fully braced for it thinking I am going to crash into the back of a stationary vehicle and view it as a modern-day inconvenience rather than swearing loudly and profusely as I used to before.
I suppose I should be grateful. It thinks it’s saving my life by alerting me to a threat that isn’t there. I have taken to viewing it as being well-meaning; like a dog attempting to ‘rescue’ its human from drowning, when all you want to do is have a paddle. I have even stopped getting out of the car wearing my ‘pained face’ and immediately bending and stretching. It would appear that I have run out of people to bore with tales of the buttock-numbing ride quality. Everyone has heard it, and more than once. You just get used to it.
What impresses are the things you don’t really notice, or pay scant attention to. Tyre roar aside, there’s very little noise in normal conditions, or vibrations. The engine note is never intrusive unless you’re revving hard, and even then, it’s the sort of noise that makes you smile as only a small-displacement triple can. I am also really impressed with the build quality. I loved the two Skoda Fabia Monte Carlos that I owned, before the arrival of the Arona, but one had a maddening dashboard creak from the moment I got it, while the other had an incessant squeak which I was never able to trace.
One area that has come in for criticism elsewhere is the six-speed ’box. According to some reports, it feels ‘disconnected’ or ‘remote,’ with some reviewers claiming that it’s easy to miss a gear or, more likely, shift up or down too many cogs. I find this baffling because the gearchange is superb, with a well-defined gate and pleasing snicking motion. The steering has also been described in some sections of the media as being a bit inert, or words to that effect. I find it direct, frictionless, and with no more assist than you need. The more time I spend with the Arona, the more I am warming to it. There’s a lot to like here.