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SEAT Exeo Saloon (2009 - 2013) review

Read the Seat Exeo saloon (2009 - ) car review by Auto Trader's motoring experts, covering price, specification, running costs, practicality, safety and how it drives.

Last updated: 20th November 2014
The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 3.9
The SEAT Exeo is more than a reworking of the previous Audi A4. It’s a handsome, well-equipped saloon that offers a comfortable, enjoyable drive.

Pros

  • Great value for money
  • Smart interior
  • Typical Volkswagen group reliability

Cons

  • Saloon layout limits practicality
  • Dated underpinnings
  • Rivals offer more space
Best on a budget
Exeo 2.0 TDI 120 S
The 120 S is the most affordable Exeo on sale.
Best seller
Exeo 2.0 TDI 143 SE Tech
Popular SE Tech adds auto headlights and parking sensors.
Blow the budget
Exeo 2.0 TDI 170 Sport Tech
Sport adds 18-inch alloys and meaner looks.

Interested in buying SEAT Exeo?

Exterior 3/5

Remember the last generation Audi A4? The SEAT Exeo is that car, but it has had a facelift and has been ‘SEAT-ified’ with the company’s traditional front grille and badging. It won’t win the Spanish-based manufacturer any design awards, but it’s a handsome car with nicely balanced lines which looks good fitted with the bigger alloy wheels on offer.

Interior 4/5

Remember the Audi A4 cabriolet? The Exeo has its interior, albeit with SEAT badges. But this too is no bad thing. We always rave about Audi interiors, because their quality has been ahead of the curve for the past few years. The driving position is spot on for drivers of all sizes, and we were comfortable even on long drives.

Practicality 4/5

The boot is a reasonable 460 litres in size, offering more luggage space than a hatchback, but lagging a little behind the massive space on offer in the Mondeo and Insignia. Inside the cabin there are plenty of cubby spaces and cup holders for motoring paraphernalia.

Ride and handling 4/5

Our test car was the ‘sport’ version, and came fitted with 18-inch alloy wheels, lowered suspension and body kit. Pleasingly it tightened up body control and handling without making the Exeo thump and rock over bumps. Body roll is kept in check allowing the car to scythe through bends with more precision than the A4 it’s based on. SE models should be even comfier, at the cost of the Sport’s precision.

Performance 4/5

The Seat Exeo is available with either a 2-litre petrol or diesel engine, and the diesel is available in three power outputs. The 200bhp TSI petrol is the quickest, thanks to the poke from its Golf GTi-derived engine. 0-62mph is dispatched in 7.3 seconds. Out of the range of 120bhp, 143bhp and 170bhp diesel models, it’s the middling engine which makes most sense. Its economy is no worse than the 120bhp model and it offers better acceleration. The 170bhp feels almost as quick as the petrol and hits 62mph in 8.4 seconds.

Running costs 4/5

Both the 120 and 143bhp models manage respectably low emissions for a big saloon (143g/km) and average 51mpg. Opt for the 170bhp diesel and economy drops slightly to 48.7mpg and emissions increase to 153g/km. The petrol will be a bit heavier on the wallet with emissions of 179g/km and fuel economy of 36.7mpg – good for a performance model. The petrol incurs a benefits in kind (BIK) cost of 23 per cent, while the 170bhp diesel has 21 per cent BIK. The two lower-powered diesels have a 19 per cent BIK cost.

Reliability 4/5

Based on the Audi A4 and employing the latest-generation common-rail diesel engines, the Exeo should have few reliability issues. It feels every inch a solid Volkswagen Group model.

Safety 4/5

The Exeo hasn’t been crash tested by Euro NCAP yet, but it’s expected to perform well. Six airbags, electronic stability programme (ESP), anti-lock brakes (ABS) and ISOFIX child seat anchor points are standard across the range.

Equipment 4/5

Equipment levels are dictated by the choice of trim – S, SE, Sport and SE Lux. Even the S is well-finished with electric windows, dual-zone climate control, heated mirrors, front fog lights, cruise control, alloy wheels and steering-wheel mounted audio controls. SE trim adds automatic lights and wipers, leather steering wheel and gear knob and rear parking sensors. Sport adds deeper side sills and bumpers, sport suspension, deeply-bolstered front seats and 18-inch five-spoke alloy wheels. Range-topping SE Lux cars get black leather seats and adaptive Xenon headlights which turn to point in the best direction in corners.

Why buy? 4/5

It might not be an all-new design, but this cleverly reworked car has given SEAT an executive saloon which can hit the streets running in record time. It drives well and benefits from one of the best saloon interiors built, along with the latest generation TSI petrol and common rail diesel engines. Put simply; it’s a lot of car for the money.

Interested in buying SEAT Exeo?

Related topics:
Sporty