British market prices of the new range are still being negotiated, but are thought likely to span from £7,000 for the entry-level 1.0-litre car to just under £10,000 for the 100bhp, 16-valve 1.4-litre version.
In between, Seat will offer an automatic transmission model and the TDI, its ultimate economy car. Fitted with the Volkswagen Group's admirable three-cylinder 1.4-litre turbodiesel engine, it blends vigorous performance with potential fuel returns of up to 80mpg.
Cars destined for Britain are likely to be based on the domestic market Stella version, which offers a driver's airbag, height-adjustment for both steering and driver's seat, adjustable headlamps, power steering and windows, central locking, a split rear seat with headrests, an Isofix child seat system and a pollen filter. Options are thought likely to include anti-lock braking, power operated and heated mirrors, side and passenger airbags, air conditioning and a power-operated glass or canvas sunroof.
Seat's first design to come from Walter de Silva, the former Alfa Romeo styling chief, the Arosa adopts a more forceful stance and reflects the bold new corporate 'face' introduced by its Toledo and Leon stablemates. More than 50% new or revised, the bodywork boasts smoother aerodynamics for reduced noise and improved economy and its smarter appearance is backed by suspension settings tuned for sport.
Though the energetic 16v justifies its top-slot position with snappy performance, it was the TDI that appealed as the pick of the bunch in a brief test session. With the group's acclaimed 1.4-litre, three-cylinder, 75bhp turbodiesel under its bonnet, this Arosa is a delightful blend of fun and frugality. It drives with verve to put a fresh dimension on heavy-oil motoring, zips to 62mph from rest in 12 seconds and purrs along quietly at the legal limit with its motor at little more than 2,000rpm.
The interior of all versions reflect the upmarket move, with neatly-executed card and cup holders and several cubby holes featuring in the new dashboard layout. Softer plastic is used for the trim, and new upholstery is claimed to improve comfort.