1998 Seat Arosa 3 door standard trim 1.0 from UK and Ireland


Cheap and cheerful


I bought the car for 400 quid, so I knew there would be work to do.

Exhaust had a hole behind the back box.

I lightly cleaned my throttle, and now I have a high and surging idle, which the garage hasn't a clue how to fix, even after two new separate throttle bodies were fitted and aligned. This problem is making me hate this car with a passion.

Tire wear on nearside wheel on the inside only, although the garage says the tracking is fine.

Door annoyingly clicks very loud when opened!

General Comments:

The car performs well enough and has a peppy 1.0 engine. Don't touch your throttle body, if you'd rather not get the urge to burn your car and claim on the insurance.

It's cheap and cheerful, and a likable little car, but be sure to make sure it has been well looked after, because you'll find head-wrecking minor problems that shouldn't be there.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 11th April, 2012

2001 Seat Arosa S TDI 1.4 turbo diesel from UK and Ireland


Small, fast, economical motorway cruiser


Owned since 15,000 miles, and have now driven it a further 130,000 miles. Engine is fantastic, the best thing about the car. Still no oil leaks, even after all those miles.

At 70,000 miles, a small hole appeared in the exhaust just behind the CAT, and no compatible third party exhaust could be found that fitted, so a SEAT original had to be fitted: Cost, £600. To fix a hole!

At 100,000 miles, steering column switch cluster started to fall apart and short internally, damaging the indicator/flasher unit in the process. SEAT UK/Europe replaced the switches easily, but could not find a simple flasher unit anywhere in any warehouse for a month, and in the end I had to go to a scrapyard to find one myself and present it to the garage so I could get my car back.

At 120,000 miles, synchromesh on the gearbox started to fail, making it impossible to change from 5th to 4th. Fixed by gearbox specialist, cost about £600.

At 130,000 miles, the driveshafts both had to be replaced due to severe wear - one actually snapped.

145,000 miles (just now) - Oil warning lamp suddenly came on, stopped, found plenty of oil. Car then ran OK again. Chief suspect is oil pressure sensor, not yet confirmed.

General Comments:

Light silver grey seats are terrible for attracting and keeping hold of dirt - I eventually gave up trying to keep them clean, and just fitted seat covers over my filthy seats.

The car has always been ludicrously fast for a small diesel, and yet incredibly economical, with emissions low enough to put it in the £30 per year tax bracket.

Handling (on my diesel model at least) is relatively poor; the heavy engine block tends to want to keep going in whatever direction it's already going. However, I originally bought the car as a fast long distance motorway cruiser, and for this it is excellent, humming along effortlessly at very high motorway speeds for mile after mile.

The oil specified for this engine (VW spec 505.01) is unusual, expensive and rarely available in garage shops, but the owners manual states that failure to use the right oil can result in serious engine damage, so be prepared to keep the right type of oil to hand and never be tempted to use 'ordinary' oil.

The front light clusters are stupidly hard to get at from behind, due to the very close proximity of other components in the engine compartment - sidelights in particular are ridiculously hard to change, and I suggest replacing both with LED bulbs the first time you have to change one, so you'll never have to do it again.

If you like carrying out your own moderate to complex repairs, be aware that there is not and never will be a Haynes manual available for the Arosa - not enough were ever sold. This has been a problem enough times for me now that I would not buy another Arosa, even though I love the car.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 20th February, 2011

17th Apr 2011, 06:16

Carlube Triple R 5w40 Fully Synthetic is 505.01 spec as well, and available from most online suppliers inc Eurocarparts etc.