Seat's new Mondeo rival – due for a 2009 debut – will be called Exeo. Pronounced ‘ex-ay-oh’ (derived from the Latin exire, meaning ‘to go beyond’ and breaking away from Seat’s city-based nomenclature) the new saloon and estate will rely heavily on the underpinnings of the previous generation Audi A4. It will be the first time that the Spanish carmaker will have a model for Leon and Altea drivers looking for something larger and more aspirational.
Initiated by Seat president Erich Schmitt – the ex-Audi man Volkswagen chief Ferdinand Piech drafted in to whip the underperforming Spanish arm into shape in 2006 – the plan to use erstwhile Audi hardware will allow Seat to offer a new flagship with significantly lower investment and development costs. The cost savings should allow Seat to pitch the Exeo pretty aggressive at its Mondeo, Laguna rivals, without treading on toes of its Passat and A4 relatives.
As you read this, an army of 1150 lorries are ferrying the dismantled A4 line from Ingolstadt to the Exeo’s new production facility in Martorell near Barcelona for an August installation. In one relatively quick and cost-effective move, the Exeo will catapult Seat into an all-new segment that despite falling sales is still worth around 1.1million sales across Europe. Not to be sniffed at.
Schmitt said the decision to stretch the brand upwards was an easy one. “We enlarge our current product range, which not only gives our clients the possibility to grow with the brand, but also enables us to increase the profitability of our dealer network,” explained Schmitt.
Although the Exeo – known internally as project Bolero – will wear Seat’s bold nose complemented by an aggressive rear treatment, its overall shape and proportions will be very close to its Audi donor car. Expect a teaser concept car to make a splash at the Paris motor show towards the end of the year.
A neat and cost-effective bit of development or a project that reeks of mutton dressed as lamb? Tell us what you think…