Road Test: SEAT Exeo ST Sport Tech 2.0 TDI CR
SECTOR Upper Medium PRICE £24,705 FUEL 56.5mpg CO2 132g/km
SEAT has perhaps the most disjointed range of the Volkswagen Group family. Topped and tailed with lightly altered Volkswagens in the Mii and Alhambra, with the chiselled Ibiza and two generations old Leon and Altea in the middle, they’re not bad cars, but lack the clear brand identity of nearest sibling Skoda.
Exeo is no different. SEAT should really have furnished the D-segment with a sleek, chiselled saloon and Sport Tourer, but instead inherited a collection of solid but unremarkable-looking Audi parts and subtly facelifted them to fit the rest of the range. It was a cost-effective way to dip its toes into what’s becoming an increasingly tricky segment.
Actually, it’s a good place to start. Audi got the year 2000 A4 very right and, after 12 years, it’s still up to task. Comfortable, fairly sporty and without the electromechanical power steering that’s blunting most vehicles in this sector.
Exeo feels keener than it sounds; it’s quite a good drive.
There are sacrifices, though. Interior quality is excellent, but features like the prominent cigarette lighter, obtrusive once-optional armrest, mechanical handbrake and iPod connection based on a CD changer remind you that this is an old car.
It’s the same outside. Exeo looks too subtle, too Germanic, against SEAT’s latest crop and even the chevron-accented head and tail lamps can’t really hide it. But it’s understated and classy, at least, and the new 18-inch turbine alloy wheels suit it.
None of these should be reasons to write it off, though. Exeo doesn’t exude sportiness or Spanish design flair, but it’s good to drive, very economical and incredibly comfortable too. View it as a keenly-priced A4, ignore the old bits and it’s a worthy, upmarket-feeling competitor in this sector.