From £19,425
The petrol Exeo appeals, but the diesels are better

Our Verdict

Seat Exeo 2009-2013
Seat reskins Audi’s old A4 to offer a cut-price executive saloon

Is the Seat Exeo anything more than a reheated Audi A4?

  • First Drive

    Seat Exeo Sport 2.0 TDI

    It’s still an endearing, capable and well equipped option that’s worth giving serious consideration to
  • First Drive

    Seat Exeo 2.0 TDI Multitronic

    Adding an automatic gearbox makes the Exeo easier to drive at only a small cost to performance and economy

What is it?

The 2.0 TSI version is going to be as sporty as the new Seat Exeo gets. It features the familiar 197bhp direct-injection 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, as used by other members of the VW family. And it gets sports suspension as standard, which means it sits 20mm closer to the ground and has springs and dampers that are said to be 20 per cent stiffer than the standard items.

What’s it like?

We already know what a good engine this is, and that remains true when it’s slotted in the Exeo saloon. Slightly shorter gearing would make it better still, but it’s flexible, free-revving and turns Seat’s Mondeo rival into a swift car that’s rarely wanting for power.

Being based on the last Audi A4 has its drawbacks, though, and they comes with the chassis. The sports suspension means that this car lacks a lot of the bounce and some of the pitching of lesser Exeos. It also leans less roll through bends and mildly more precise steering. But too many thumps find their way into the cabin and it’s only averagely good at coping with scarred road surfaces. So the best family saloons will serve you better.

The upside to the Exeo’s Audi heritage is to be found inside the cabin, though. The high quality and great functionality of the interior, and its fit and finish, are easily the Seat’s highpoint.

Should I buy one?

If the Exeo appeals - and there’s lot of appealing things about it - then yes, but even so, we’d still recommend one of the diesels above this petrol model. Either way, although they’re good value cars, they’re certainly not cheap. And looking towards the likes of the Honda Accord and Ford Mondeo is going to get you more car and a better car for less.

Chas Hallett

Join the debate

Comments
5

SDR

20 February 2009

I think the last line of the conclusion says it all. There's no compelling logical reason to buy this over a Mondeo or an Accord, an Insignia, or probably several others if I thought about it - all are better cars.

I hope and expect this cynical effort will meet with little success - platform sharing is one thing, taking somebody else's cast-off, nailing a different badge to the front, then trying to sell it for as much or more than its more modern, capable competition is a pretty grim business plan.

I've no doubt the interior is great but nothing else is, and the image, depreciation and arguably styling are all worse than the car on which it is based... so why not save a few thousand and buy a nice two year old A4?!

Madness, VW... madness. It's long struck me that SEAT is a misfit in the group, it serves no purpose, has no USP (don't give me sporting - look at this thing!) - sell it, close it, just stop messing around with it - it's an unnecessary distraction. Spend the time you put into inventing things for SEAT to do on working out how to make an A4/A5's clutch pedal appear where my leg ends, and working out why an A3's steering is not as pleasing as a Golf's. Thank yooooooooou!

20 February 2009

[quote SDR]I've no doubt the interior is great but nothing else is, and the image, depreciation and arguably styling are all worse than the car on which it is based... so why not save a few thousand and buy a nice two year old A4?! [/quote]

You may be wrong. Particularly regarding image. I suspect there are a lot of people out there who'd be very happy with Audi quality, but who wouldn't touch Audi image with a bargepole. As with Skoda, this car will cater for that customer base. Yes, it'll no doubt depreciate faster than an Audi, but that'll be great news in two years for these who want Audi quality but not Audi secondhand prices.

Badge aside, this car is is objectively no better and no worse than a previous generation A4, itself a very middling car - apart from the badge.

20 February 2009

[quote Dan McNeil]Yes, it'll no doubt depreciate faster than an Audi, but that'll be great news in two years for these who want Audi quality but not Audi secondhand prices.[/quote]

It may not hold it's value as well as an Audi but Seats usually do pretty well. My wife traded her Ibiza in last year and after 5 years (30k) got 40% of its original value back. Better than most and well ahead of Fiesta/Corsa/Clio.

20 February 2009

[quote SDR]There's no compelling logical reason to buy this over a Mondeo or an Accord, an Insignia, or probably several others if I thought about it - all are better cars. [/quote]

Well, that depends.

For example, if we take the VAG 170 common rail diesel unit (as installed in the Exeo), then the Mondeo (for instance) is massively inferior in the diesel unit department. Its DERV-guzzling-smoke-signaling-under-moderate acceleration-sound-of-dying-cement-mixer installation barely warrants the noun 'engine'.

Plus, its fascia looks like a 1970s Alba stereo.

Still, at least it handles.

27 August 2010

Seat should have taken a trip to see Skoda, who do a pretty good job at making VAG chassis efficient and comfortable. That's what friends are for. Great comment about the pointlessness of Seat in the VAG line-up. Has anyone read a blurb from the VAG PR folk on this subject, apart from the first ones after the takeover about Seat being the "young and sporty" member of the family?

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