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

What is it?

Seat’s D-segment offering has been on sale since early 2009, and considering its Audi origins it has been a big success for the Spanish brand – the Exeo is Seat’s third best-selling model in the UK. Further raiding of the Audi cupboard has liberated the Multitronic CVT gearbox to give a self-shifting option for the first time, as well as adding a few detail enhancements.

What’s it like?

Mated solely to the 141bhp 2.0-litre TDI common rail unit, the Exeo Multitronic uses the healthy low down torque to good effect and stop-start traffic is hassle-free. On more open roads the typical behaviour of a CVT gearbox means the occasional prolonged drone as the car’s speed matches up to the engine revs, but overall it reduces driver effort.

A Sport mode for the gearbox keeps engine revs higher for more of the time, but more spirited driving is best served by the manual mode. Seven pre-programmed ratios are offered with changes made using the paddles behind the wheel or the lever itself, and although it can’t match the rapid changes of a DSG system it’s brisk enough to make it entertaining and is a useful option to have. The Exeo is still one of Seat’s less dynamically able cars but it at least offers a comfortable ride and accurate controls.

As well as the automatic option, all Exeo models have had rear legroom increased by 44mm, mainly thanks to a reworked rear bench and deeper scallops in the back of the front seats. Entry to the rear seats has also been helped by reshaping at the base of the B-pillar, so while it is still no limousine the ST is a more comfortable place to be. Two new seat trim options have also been added and on higher-spec models LED rear lights are available, all adding to the premium feel.

Should I buy one?

The Exeo remains a car to fill a particular gap in the Seat range, but the flip side of the familiar design and technology is that it offers unquestionable value for money on proven mechanicals.

Matt Joy

Seat Exeo 2.0 TDI SE Lux Multitronic

Price: TBA; Top Speed: 129mph; 0-62mph: 9.3 seconds; Economy: 48.7mpg combined; C02: 153g/km; Kerb weight: 1545kg; Engine type cc: 1968cc four-cylinder common rail diesel; Power: 141bhp; Torque: 236lb.ft; Gearbox: CVT automatic with manual mode

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MattDB 10 February 2011

Re: Seat Exeo 2.0 TDI SE

Seat are part of an empire that rarely gets ride and handling rights, but the ability exists as the Golf GTI and latest improvements at Audi are starting to prove. But it has taken Audi the best part of a lifetime to start get it right and as Seat are based upon VW and Audi hand me downs they will have to wait a full model generation before this new engineering filters through. Skoda is different as they are allowed to develop hybrid platforms that are unique to them and the Czech republic has roads similar to the UK so their engineers have better grasp on ride and handling than their German and Spanish friends.

I also agree with everyone else that the press car used for the pictures is horrible colour. Maybe the PR folks at Seat wanted to move away from 'sporty' and be more 1978 Morris Marina

LateKnight 9 February 2011

Re: Seat Exeo 2.0 TDI SE

TegTypeR wrote:
It may be re-cycled but it is still a good car to which they have made sensible, desirable improvements. Given a slightly less rushed development schedule, I am sure they could have made it handle properly too!

Problem is they're always going to have that 'engine between the headlights' weight balance problem with fwd models unless they put on Audi type sports suspension which then ruins refinement. I guess they are just not aimed at owners who like their driving a little more dynamic.

Not too bad though for a platform that was introduced over 10 years ago.

I don't fancy the multitronic much. Audi have had serious problems with this type of gearbox (just put 'multitronic failure' into google). Granted most of these are on pre 2006 models - allegedly later boxes are a bit more reliable, or still a bit new - I just wouldn't. Why they just could not develop the excellent 6 speed auto found in quattro models for fwd I'll never know..

PRODIGY 8 February 2011

Re: Seat Exeo 2.0 TDI SE

Autocar wrote:
the Exeo is Seat’s third best-selling model in the UK

Not exactly such a great achievement as you make it out to be considering how small the Seat range is compared to other brands.. I'm guessing the Ibiza is their best, followed by the Leon and then this. The only other 'cars' in the Seat range are the Altea/XL and Alhambra!

I hope VW sorts Seat out soon. The late 90s range was spot on, the Leon mk1 looked good even in base trim as did its Toledo sibling, the Ibiza was good looking against its rivals at the time and there were some great concept cars that should have been given the green light.

The current Ibiza looks great imo, just hope the next Leon looks as good. All Seat need is a halo car I reckon. As for the Exeo, I'd rather have a Skoda Superb. The Exeo is not good at all for Seats image and helps with the critics views that Seat is just a lost cause.

Seat can be great again and it wouldn't take much.