If you’re shopping for a turbodiesel family estate, chances are the Seat Exeo ST has escaped your attention. Yet it’s well worth a look. Here's why.
The Seat Exeo ST is just an old Audi A4 isn’t it?
Pretty much. All the basics remain the same, while the styling is Luc Donckerwolke’d with new bumpers and lights front and rear, plus a revised bonnet and boot.
Inside you get the old A4 cabriolet interior, distinguishable from the old saloon by virtue of its triple centre air vents. It looks durable, and it’s well laid out and has an upmarket feel too.
Shouldn’t I just get a new Audi A4 Avant?
If you can afford it, yes, but consider this: the Exeo ST range starts at just over £19k and tops out just beyond £23k. The cheapest A4 is the £21,665 petrol 1.8 that’s 80bhp down on the only petrol Exeo (a 2.0-litre with 197bhp), and the Seat is still almost £1k cheaper. The Exeo 2.0-litre diesel can be had in three flavours – 118bhp (from £19,155), 141bhp (from £19,855) and 168bhp (from £22,445), yet the equivalent A4s – with exactly the same power outputs – are around £4.5k extra.
I bet the Exeo spec’s stingy, then…
Not so. Even in the mid-ranking SE trim that we sampled, the Exeo ST is crammed with standard equipment like dual-zone air-con, rain-sensing wipers, cruise control and a USB port.
The only telltale laughter lines are blocky, dated buttons in the centre console. Otherwise it’s a nice place to be – comfy seats with plenty of support, enough head- and legroom in the back for a six-footer, plus a low deck for easy luggage loading and 60/40 split rear seats. Seats up you’ll get 460 litres of luggage space – 30 less than the new A4, but Even Stevens with the 3-series Touring.
How does it drive?
In 141bhp trim it pulls strongly with just 1300rpm on the dial and is smooth, refined and moves swiftly through the powerband with one long lunge. The gearchange is slick, the steering nicely weighted and the ride, while a little lumpy, is unlikely to sour the ownership experience.
The Exeo is frugal too, our 141bhp car turning in the same 53.3mpg and 139g/km as the 118bhp diesel, yet 5mpg more and 14g/km less than the 168bhp TD range-topper.
With our car’s ample performance, it’s hard to justify its thirstier, dirtier, costlier sibling.
Practical, well built, frugal, strong value, decent to drive and attractive too, this is possibly Seat’s best car. Whether it really fits with the Seat brand is another matter, but chances are that won’t matter to those who can see its appeal.