What is it
This is the revised-for-2012 Seat Exeo ST. Revised, yes, but not very much. In fact, the blink-and-you’ll-miss-them updates, which apply to both the ST estate driven here and the four-door saloon, amount to little more than swoopy new bi-xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights, new wheel designs and some upgraded interior trim materials, the combination of which is intended to enhance the Exeo’s grown-up, premium executive feel.
Minor changes to the 141bhp 2.0 TDI engine result in a fall in CO2 emissions from 139g/km to 132g/km, with the claimed combined economy figure improving from 53.5mpg to 56.5mpg. The 141bhp 2.0 TDI saloon, incidentally, improves from 139g/km to 129g/km and 51.4mpg to 58.9mpg respectively.
What’s it like
Given how little has changed, it’s hardly surprising that the new Exeo feels very much like the old one. Inside, the cabin, controls and dashboard layout are almost disappointingly identical to before, with only minor changes to the seat and steering wheel trim.
The Exeo ST isn’t the most voluminous of estates so the cabin does feel a little compact compared to some of its contemporaries. Taller drivers might feel cramped behind the wheel, too, with the centre tunnel stealing space where your left leg might want to go. There’s enough adjustment in the seat and steering wheel to resolve the issue for the most part, but rear-seat passengers will suffer for legroom as a result.
Our Sport-trim test car’s supportive seats up the cabin’s ambience and add a touch of class, but the 18-inch wheels and firmer suspension they’re packaged with otherwise let the car down. The corrupted steering feel, compromised ride and extra road noise they result in is simply too high a price to pay for a small improvement in outright cornering ability that will rarely be used to its advantage.
Power is provided courtesy of the Volkswagen Group’s 2.0-litre TDI, in this case in 141bhp form, and mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. As mentioned, the claimed combined economy figure is 56.5mpg, but you should realistically expect mid to low-40s in day-to-day use.
Should I buy one
Possibly, but avoid Sport trim. The seats are nice but the 18-inch wheels do the ride no favours, increase road noise, and give the steering a heavy, awkward feel.
In the two years since its launch the car has lost some of its original hidden-gem charm and by not moving very far forward the Exeo feels like it’s taken a small step back. But it’s still an endearing, capable and well equipped option that’s worth giving serious consideration to if you’re in the market for a smart family holdall.
Seat Exeo ST Sport 2.0 TDI 143
Price: £23,800; Price as tested: £25,650; 0-62mph: 9.6sec; Top speed: 130mph; Kerb weight: 1565kg; Economy: 56.5mpg (combined); CO2: 132g/km; Engine: 4 cyls in line, 1968cc, turbodiesel; Max power: 141bhp at 4200rpm; Max torque: 236lb ft at 1750-2500rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd manual