What is it?
This is the Seat Exeo 2.0 TDI SE, the new Mondeo rival from the VW group’s Spanish arm. If you think that it looks familiar, that’s because it is; The Seat Exeo (pronounced ex-ay-oh) started life as the previous-generation Audi A4.
To turn it into the Seat Exeo, the Audi has been modestly refreshed by Seat’s design team, and it uses a new generation of VW engines.
There are two common-rail turbodiesels (it’s the lower-powered 141bhp version we test here in the Seat Exeo 2.0-litre TDI SE) and the 197bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol. The whole production line has been shifted from Ingolstadt to Seat’s Martorell plant in northern Spain.
The saloon version will be available straight away, while the estate (or should that be Avant?) will be arriving shortly afterwards.
What’s it like?
Perhaps the question ought to be: is the Seat Exeo like getting an Audi on the cheap? In some ways, yes. The good bits of the last Audi A4 are also the good bits on the new Seat Exeo.
The dash of the Seat Exeo is actually the mildly more characterful fascia from the A4 cabriolet. Sitting in such familiar Audi surroundings but staring at Seat badges seems a little incongruous if you’re used to the last Audi A4.
But everyone is going to appreciate the sheer functionality and solidity of the cabin. Even last-generation Audis set the standards for fit and finish and this is the Seat Exeo’s biggest plus point.
Space is decent, even in the rear quarters. And the driving position of the left-hand-drive models we were in was extremely good - most shapes and sizes are going to find an optimal driving position.
As in the previous Audi A4, though, the Seat Exeo’s driving position is not the best. The 141bhp 2.0-litre TDI version we were piloting is going to be shown the way by the the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Insignia. By comparison, the Seat is less refined and less precise on the road.
On our Spanish test route the suspension failed to smother the worst tarmac excesses and suffered old-style Audi pitch and squat on braking and full acceleration too.
On the positive side the latest VW group diesels are extremely refined and frugal. Official fuel consumption of 51.4mpg is not to be sniffed at either.
Should I buy one?
The Seat Exeo is extremely well made, stylish inside and deserves to finally put Seat in the minds of company car drivers.
That said, a Ford Mondeo or Vauxhall Insignia will probably serve most of us a lot better.