What is it?
It’s not hard to see what the Seat Exeo was in a former life – an Audi A4. When Ingolstadt stopped building the previous-generation junior exec saloon, it packed the production equipment up in crates and shipped it to Seat’s Barcelona factor which, a few months later, (re)launched it as the Exeo. The inherent qualities of the Audi mean it wasn’t as daft as it sounds though – and now, a few years and another facelift on, the Exeo still cuts the mustard. Yes, mainly through offering great value, but as we’re in a recession, maybe this isn’t such a bad thing.
Audi-like qualities are obvious here: there’s substance to the Exeo when on the move, with a heavyweight reassurance that offers more integrity than you’d first expect. The age of it means there are grumbles, of course – the ride isn’t as fluid or as quiet as it could be in town, while the overassisted steering is pretty grey – but it still performs well as a high-speed motorway slogger, particularly the tauter Sport models. As this is where most will be used, that’s a good thing.
VW TDI engines are, again, noisier than in newer models, but they’re just as punchy and effortless enough to use. Just don’t be distracted by the 2.0-litre TSI petrol. Yes, Seat is a sporty brand and yes, this engine is from the Golf GTI, but remain firm. The petrol is pointless.
On the inside
The interior is a little curious. It looks and feels aged, be in no doubt: climate control switches are fiddly and the sat nav looks an afterthought. However, it’s also extremely well put together and shows a substance that is easily a match for today’s Audis. You don’t expect such granite-like build for the money, but the Audi roots mean the Seat delivers.
Pity it’s not bigger. This platform was first launched back in 2001, and it shows. The driver will sense it’s narrower than modern cars, while rear passengers may lose sensation in their legs if they’re stuck there for too long a journey: Seat, your trick of hollowing out the backs of the front seats hasn’t quite worked...
This car is a bargain. Less than £20k buys a diesel with nothing essential missing, while our choice SE Tech costs a whisker over £22k and will even tell you where to go for free. No, it’s not quite as efficient as the latest junior executive stars, but up to 58.9mpg isn’t bad, while the combination of 129g/km CO2 and those value list prices will surely delight company car drivers. We have no doubt it’ll prove reliable and long-lasting, either. It’s an Audi design that’s been in production nearly 12 years, after all...