The Auto Trader expert verdict:
The SEAT Exeo ST reinvents the previous Audi A4 estate adding a hint of Spanish flair and impressive value for money into the bargain.
Reasons to buy:
- Sleek, attractive styling
- Solid interior
- Quiet refined ride
How good does it look?
If the shape of the SEAT Exeo looks strangely familiar, you’re not imagining things. It might sport a new front and back, but the SEAT Exeo is actually an Audi A4 of 2005 to 2009 vintage. But it’s no bad thing – the Audi A4 had nice lines, and it’s the same story with the Exeo. The ‘Arrow’ design face may take more getting used to than some of its rivals, but it is stylish and cuts a dash among more sober rivals. The SEAT Exeo ST’s sleek looks make it even more attractive than the saloon.
What's the interior like?
The interior might look familiar too – and it should, as it is another Audi development – but it’s the first time this particular cabin has appeared in a hatchback or saloon; it previously called the Audi A4 Cabriolet home. As you would expect, there’s a solidity rare in a car of any price, let alone a £20,000 family car. There’s a decent amount of storage space, and the controls are well laid out and easy to use. The intense red lighting will be familiar to current Seat – or Audi – owners and the dials are very easy to read.
How practical is it?
There’s plenty of room for front passengers, although rear legroom is somewhat limited. Headroom is good for all occupants, and it’s easy for the driver to get a good seating position. The SEAT Exeo ST estate we tested is first rate, offering a flat floor, low sill and 442 litres of room, rising to a cavernous 1,354 litres. The boot floor lifts and can be angled to create a barrier to stop luggage sliding.
What's it like to drive?
The SEAT Exeo is more about ride than handling. There’s a slightly artificial feel to the steering, but it is precise. Comfort impresses, although Sport models, shod with 18-inch wheels rather than the 17s fitted to our SE test car, provide a firmer ride. On the move the cabin is quiet and refined, making for a relaxed motorway cruiser.
How powerful is it?
Three engines are offered – two diesels and a petrol; all two litre. We tested the 143bhp version of the diesel and is the biggest seller in the range thanks to capable performance blended with low running costs. It has a slick six-speed gearbox and is very tractable. It will reach 62mph in 9.2 seconds, before hitting a 133mph maximum. A 170bhp diesel is also offered, which will hit 62mph in 8.4 seconds before running on to 142mph. The 200bhp 2-litre turbocharged engine from the Volkswagen Golf GTi is also available, offering a 7.3 second 0-62mph and a 149mph top speed.
How much will it cost me?
Given its impressive specification, the SEAT Exeo is very well priced. SEAT is hoping to find the Exeo has appeal for company car drivers who want a premium product with a low benefit-in-kind rating. The 143bhp version of the 2-litre TDI we tested can return around 50mpg and emits 143g/km, while the 170bhp version’s figures are 48mpg and 153g/km. The petrol emits 179g/km and returns just 37mpg. Servicing is every 10,000 miles/12 months.
How reliable is it?
The Audi A4 on which the SEAT Exeo is based has a reputation for build quality inside and out. The engines and transmissions have been fitted to countless Audis, SEATs and Volkswagens so should prove robust.
How safe is it?
The SEAT Exeo hasn’t been put through the Euro NCAP crash test programme, but comes with a good level of equipment. All models feature six airbags, ISOFIX child seat mountings and tethers to minimise movement of child seats in a crash. Electronic stability programme (ESP) and brake assistance is also fitted as standard.
How much equipment do I get?
Three trim levels are available: SE, Sport and SE Lux. All models feature electric windows front and back, electric folding mirrors, climate control, a CD player with Ipod connectivity and steering wheel-mounted controls and a trip computer.
If you’re looking for a new Audi estate on a budget, the SEAT Exeo ST is the perfect choice; it offers more car for your pound than pretty much anything else on the market. Critics cite a used Audi A4 as a better bet, but for those needing to choose a new car – either as a private purchase or a company car – the SEAT Exeo has much to offer.