Peter Knight's Web Site
Things for me, friends, family... and passers by

decorative bar

Arosa rear light cluster Seat Arosa Sport 1.4 16v

A web-diary for DU02 HBK "Stumpy" 

Read letters that other visitors have sent in about Seat Arosas

Features: central locking, alarm, immobiliser, front and side airbags, ABS brakes, lowered and stiffened "sports" suspension, height adjustable and crash-collapsing steering, double side-impact bars, halogen lights, height adjustable sports seats, alloys, and a funky chrome- plated centrally- placed exhaust tail pipe!. 100bhp, 94 lb/ft, 946kg. 0-60 in 9.8secs, official fuel consumption 54mpg (rural) 30mpg (urban). Length 3.55m.

Choosing and buying   Delivery and First DriveUpdate -1000 miles   Update - 3 months
August 2002 back to the workshop    comparison drives   update - 9 months  12 months service   18 month report
January 2004: all's well  2-year report, and so-long to Stumpy.

Arosa front end

February 2002: Choosing and buying
We were looking for something small, nippy, solid and interesting that wasn't going to break the bank either to buy or to run. Couldn't find ANY new-shape Arosas on the road to see what they looked like, but checked them out thoroughly on the web and in the press (see links at bottom of this page) and then headed off to the local dealer, Premier Stoke.

When we turned up at Premier the salesman we saw there (Ross) was a chap we used to know when he worked at our local Suzuki garage. He was just starting out at Premier, and since he'd been good at Suzuki we were pleased to see him again. When we went back the next week to fix up finance the finance guy (Danny) was the same chap who had fixed up the finance on our first Corrado (the G60) about 10 years ago at Premier Leek! Ross and Danny looked after us pretty well and the whole sales procedure was pretty painless.

Ross brought a car over to the house for a test drive, and Premier fixed us a little bit of a discount and threw in the optional chrome grille trim (about 35 quidsworth) for nothing. They would not go as far as throwing in a set of floor mats, and they wouldn't budge beyond their initial discount, and I did  think that since I was giving them nearly ten grand for the car, plus another 1,700 quid in finance costs,  they could at least have thrown in a 30-quid set of mats! I must not be the world's greatest haggler.

However, everybody we've encountered at Premier so far has been very nice and friendly and helpful, including Ross, Danny, the ladies who've answered the phone, the Sales Manager who I got once by mistake, and a chap who chipped in to help us distinguish between shades of blue in the showroom! I hope they all turn out to be so good when it comes to after-sales care and servicing. Watch this space and I'll let you know!

Our OTR price was £9,800. I got insurance (4yrs no-claims) with protected NCB for £286 from the RAC, and we signed up for a servicing package where about £5 a month covers all the basic servicing costs. That figure really brought home the economy factor of this car relative to the VR6 Corrado that we had until last August. £5 a month wouldn't go far towards servicing that one! In fact everything about the Arosa is less than half the price of what it was on the Corrado - but then it's also less than half the engine size!

Delivery of the Arosa is arranged for 1st March 2002. Watch this space and I'll keep a running diary of strengths, weaknesses, problems, costs, after-sales service, etc.

March 2002: Delivery and First Drive
Delivery was on schedule, but the car came with a number of minor problems: a slightly scraped alloy, a small chip in the paint, a missing plastic bit from inside the engine bay... nothing serious, but irritating. The dealer had spotted those three, and has arranged for a new wheel, a paint repair, and a replacement plastic bit. After we got the car home we also spotted another couple of marks on the car, but nothing major. A couple of other problems noted in this first week end have been that the instruction book for the radio is missing, the lights don't flash like they're supposed to when you set the alarm, and, more ominously, the Engine Management System warning light came on just as we got home after a 25 mile drive. Started her up an hour later and all was clear, but it did the same after another 25 mile drive today. Something else to check with the dealer on Monday!

So how does she drive? Well, it's not the Corrado, but to tell you the truth it's not as much different as I expected. Everything is going much slower, of course, (partly because we're in running-in mode, keeping to moderate revs and throttle) but there's still a weighty feel to the chassis, a crisp and grippy turn in, and good feel through the seat of your pants. There's a lovely snickety notchy feel to the gear shift, and the throw isn't too long. Less feel through the steering than in the Corrado, but it's good enough. It might take a while to get used to the bigger wheel, though. The biggest difference, of course, is the engine. 1.4 16v is a whole different animal from 2.9 V6, and requires a very different style of driving. We've only got about 120 miles on the clock so I'm not exploring the rev range at all yet, but it's already clear that the little engine has a bit of a split low-rev / hi-rev personality. Putting your foot part-way down at low revs and holding it steady as the engine speed rises, you get a gentle start followed by sudden surge of power as you reach a critical rpm, almost like a turbo kicking in. Critical rpm in first gear seems to be about 2500, and about 3500 in second. If you make sure you're above that when you engage, the car is a little rocket, but if you drop below, then try to pick up again, you realise you've dropped out of warp. I'm really looking forward to finishing the running in and finding out what this little madam can actually do. Peak power and torque are in the 5500 area, but I think I'd better get a few hundred miles of bedding in done, and check out that warning light before lighting that touch paper!

Arosa side view

April 2002: 1000-mile update
Well, we've had Rosa for nearly 2 months, and we've done the 1000 mile warm up. I'm really pleased with the car, but disappointed with the dealer. The car has so far lived up to all expectations and is just perfect for the job: fun, solid, nippy, small on the outside but big on the inside. We've been out and about to the Lake District, Buxton, Telford, Kidderminster, Leicester and Milton Keynes as well as on local drives, and the car has coped well with all sorts of driving. Nice little car. Splendid. The dealers, however, have not yet kept their promise of fixing all the little scrapes and missing parts that afflicted the car at delivery. I pestered them after 6 weeks and was told they'd get back to me. It's now 8 weeks, and they still haven't been able to take the car in to fix the damaged paintwork, the scraped alloy, and the missing bit from under the bonnett, and I still have no manual for the radio. Pretty poor show, boys. 

June 2002: 3-month update
Finally, after a letter of complaint and some yelling down the phone, the dealer got all the parts and had the car in to fix the various minor problems that came with delivery. They also gave Stumpy a good valeting, re-blacked his tyres, and even put in a splash of petrol to cover their road test and collection/delivery miles. I think they are trying to make up for their "bad start". I finally lost my temper when they didn't show up on time to collect the car and drop off the loaner for this work to be done. I was missing a meeting at work, the guy on the phone didn't seem to care, and I told him that he was the worst garage I'd ever dealt with. I think "You're just rubbish" was the wittiest and most acerbic I could come up with in the heat of the moment, but I think he got my drift. Sadly, while the car was in having the tiny little scratch it was delivered with painted over, it mysteriouisly acquired an equivalent scratch on the opposite side! I read somewhere that Seat "Imperial Blue" paint is a bit soft, and certainly the number of chips and scratches that stumpy has already picked up bears that out. Nevertheless, he looked a real beauty when they drove him back up to the house. Sparkling like new he really put the dirty silver Leon loaner to shame. He's a great little car. 

Here's what was done at the garage (all under warranty / free of charge, of course):

  • supplied and fitted battery fuse cover that was missing at delivery
  • fitted new  alloy wheel to replace that damaged at delivery
  • tested ECU memory and found no record of fault 
  • supplied radio manual missing from handbook pack at delivery
  • re-coded central locking / alarm to correct non-flashing at lock/unlock
  • paint-job on door to fix chip/scratch noted at delivery
  • valet inside and out
  • home collection/delivery, courtesy loan car.
The jury is still out on the dealer. If it takes forever to get parts from the factory, that's a SEAT problem, not a Premier Stoke problem. Being late for the pick-up appointment,  providing a loaner that even I thought was too grubby to touch, and mislaying my letter of complaint must be down to Premier. On the other hand being suitably polite and apologetic, doing a free collect/deliver service, giving the car a good valet, and having good efficient people picking up the phone when you ring goes some way towards appeasing me! And then you think, what garage actually does a really good job? I don't think I've yet found a dealer so good that I would stick with them for more than a year or two! May be Premier will keep up their improvement and buck the trend. I'll let you know!

As for Stumpy: he's great. The publicity is true about the Arosa thinking it's bigger than it really is. With the back seats folded flat (good mechanism) two chunky dogs can get in the boot; he's comfortable on the motorway and in the open country as well as in town; he's pretty sprightly when you want him to be; and he just feels like a "real" car. When I switched from a Citroen AX to a VW Corrado about 10 years ago it was partly because I wanted to drive something that felt like a "real" car, not a starter-model. The Corrado certainly did that job, but the Arosa does OK too. Certainly from the inside it feels solid, spacious, and comfortable (at least with two people... I've not tried any long journeys with 4). And from the outside - funky! Do you think I should paint the tyre valve covers imperial blue?

August 2002: back to the workshop
Saturday: Accelerating onto the M6 yesterday with about 2100 miles on the clock. 2nd gear, 4000 rpm accelerating off the slip road into a gap in the traffic: cough, splutter jolt jolt jolt the engine won't go above 4000. A gentle drive home and Stumpy is headed back to the workshop. Sounds like an engine management problem. Phoned the dealer (Premier Stoke) on Saturday morning and they arranged to collect the car from home on Monday morning, which is pretty good. Let's see if they can handle this one without annoying me like they have done previously! Get well soon, Stumpy....

Wednesday: The dealers (Premier, Stoke) are trying hard and putting in a decent effort. They took the car away as arranged Monday morning, and promised to ring with news that afternoon, which they did. The news was that a "speed sender" (?) was not communicating with the engine (frayed wires?) so the engine didn't know how fast it was going and was going into some kind of emergency running mode. New bit required, and one was now on order and due to arrive Tuesday or Wednesday. On Wednesday they phoned back on schedule to say the parts supplier had let them down but that they would deliver a free loan car to my house immediately to keep me going until Stumpy was better (they would have given me one when they first took him in, but I said I didn't need one if he was only going to be away for a couple of days). They promised to phone just before 2 to arrange a drop off, they did so, and they delivered a 1.6 SR Ibiza to my doorstep very promptly. I really like the way this dealer (Premier, Stoke) does the free pick-up and delivery. Well done, boys. And a special mention to Quillan at Premier who was very helpful on the phone. I hate it when dealers don't phone you back and generally let you down. This time, so far, Premier are doing OK. Please keep it up, I hate having to find new dealers. Incidentally, for any other Seat drivers in my area there is apparently a new Seat dealership at L.C.Charles in Crewe. I used to go there when I had the Corrado, but so far I am more impressed with Premier.

Friday: Stumpy's back, all mended and washed. Thanks, Premier.

August 2002: comparison drives
I had the opportunity this week to drive the Arosa, an Ibiza 1.6 and a Punto 1.2 in rapid succession. On balance, I am glad I've got the Arosa. The Ibiza was a bit clumsy and felt unstable especially under braking. The Punto was a comfortable, convenient and easy to drive but ultimately a bit dull, possibly just because it was underpowered. Both the Ibiza and the Punto were a lot bigger than the Arosa on the outside without being much more spacious on the inside, and they certainly didn't feel any more solid than little Stumpy. But they they did have luggage space! The Punto was great for storage space inside the cabin, too, which is a weak spot on the Arosa, and was very nicely done up inside. More comfortable and better trimmed than Stumpy. I could almost be tempted to look at a higher-powered Punto. But then you're into the territory of many other bigger cars. I like the little Arosa partly because it's so little without feeling tinny or lightweight. I was glad to get back into Stumpy after driving the other two for a few days each.

I had a letter from a visitor to this site recommending Shell Optimax as a worthwhile fuel for the Arosa Sport. I have filled up with Optimax and I think it does make a little bit of difference. Trouble is, I'd have to go back and forth a few times between fuels to convince myself! If I had to put money down, though, I'd say there was an improvement. Worth 2p per litre extra? I think so. I'll let you know when I've done a few more miles.

November 2002: 9 months, 3000 miles
Still very happy with little Stumpy, but still seem to have a problem with the little warning light. It seems to come on whenever we get caught in seriously jammed traffic, and then stays on until you next stop, wait, and restart. Fortunately I hardly ever get caught in seriously jammed traffic! It's only happened twice in 3 months. Recent occurrences have not been accompanied by any engine problems like the one we had in August (see above). Also, one part of the 3-piece chrome grille trim flew off and was lost on the A50. It must have been badly glued on when it was fitted at the dealer pre-delivery. I trust they will replace and repair under warranty: I'll let you know. Stumpy has had little trips out to Doncaster, Wolverhampton, and Aberystwyth, as well as local pootling about. I still miss the 190 horse power of the VR6 Corrado, but for a nippy little runaround Stumpy continues to please.

March 2003: 12 months, 5000 miles, first service
Happy Birthday, Stumpy! One year old today, 1st March. Everything has been fine lately, but I was really cross when I tried to book the annual inspection service and found that Premier's pick-up and delivery service had been stopped. Part of the reason I bought from Premier was that they offered that service. Very handy, I thought, and indeed it has been with the few return-to-base events that Stumpy has had so far. I was stuck with Premier because I needed work done under warranty on bits that they had fitted (the chrome grille that blew off), so I put up with it and took him in for his check up (Thanks for the lifts, Debbie!). Well, although I am still disappointed about the pick-up service, I was nevertheless impressed with Premier's performance this time. Quillan on the service reception was extremely pleasant and was even accurate with the finishing time he predicted for me to collect the car. The lady who was on the desk when I picked the car up was also extremely pleasant and informative, the car was ready on time, it had been given a good wash and all the jobs I had asked for were done. (check that warning light, fit a replacement chrome grille part, fix slightly-sticking electric window and do the service). Best of all I didn't have to pay a penny. Of course I've been paying by installments on a SEAT plan through the year, but is still seems like a good deal. I pay £5.30 a month and all regular services are covered: parts, labour, the lot. So, in the end, the servicing went very well, thank you Premier, but I would be an even more satisfied customer, and more likely to stick with you for my next new car, if you reinstated the pick-up and delivery service.

(PS: Incidentally, for those of you that follow these things, the official story with the warning light is that the darned thing is just too sensitive, and probably something as simple as exhaust fumes from the car in front in a traffic jam could set it off. Since the service it's done it once more, in April 2003,when Debbie took Stumpy to the races at Beverley, and, once again, it was in a traffic jam that the little light came on. As usual, it went away again next time the car was stopped and parked for a bit.)

September 2003: 18 months, more sad news for poor little Stumpy
Driving along fine and then stutter stutter cut-out, stutter. Emission warning light. Trip to the Garage. Once again the speed sensor and sender are on the blink so the ignition system can't tell how fast the engine is going. Parts on order. Premier (incredibly) can't get me a loan car till the end of next week. Rather than give me a loan car Premier actually suggested that I drive Stumpy as normal and hope for the best, and  they actually scribbled down the phone number of the AA/Seat recovery for me in case Stumpy conks out completely before they can have him in to fix him. Not terribly impressed with that, I have to say. So, for a week or so while the parts are on order I'm wondering every second whether Stumpy is about to stutter and cut out. Premier told me that the 16v Arosa does seem to have these little electrical problems. What a shame... great car but a bit of a problem if it keeps breaking down, isn't it.

Well, a week later and we're all sorted again: Premier got the part in within a couple of days, booked me in a couple of days later, and fixed Stumpy with (another) new speed sender and sensor. It's a bit sad to admit, but I don't think I'd like to have Stumpy out of warranty... clearly he has some little recurring ailments. It's nice that everything is still covered, and Seat do a 3-year warranty. Good job.

January 2004: No news, which is good news!
Driving Stumpy on a day-to-day basis, no problems. Nippy, economical, comfortable. Could still cope with just a little more power, I think... may be a 1.6 version would be nice! It's only just over a year now till our 3-year deal with Seat comes up for renewal: pay up to keep Stumpy or...  I have to admit that we've been looking at Ibiza's, simply because it would be nice to be able to fit the dogs in the back a bit more reasonably. Sadly there isn't a really "hot" Ibiza around, but the "warm" diesel actually looks pretty tempting. Don't tell Stumpy.

March 2004: 2-year report... and so-long to Stumpy!
Well, it's sayonara Stumpy. We're sad to see him go, but after 2 years of fun with little Stumpy it was time to move back to something just a little bigger and beefier (is that a word?). Stumpy performed faultlessly throughout the last few months, and I would still recommend the 16v to anyone who wants a small but spacious, zippy but sturdy little car. Stumpy, you were great.

PS - April-October 2004: I had e-mails from Stumpy's new owner! Go to Stumpy's letters page to catch up on the latest  news!

(picture modified from SEAT publicity)

Links to other sites:

Official Seat (UK) site (great site for info, advice etc about all Seat cars)
Premier Stoke