Review: Seat Exeo – Reading Post

27 Feb 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Review: Seat Exeo – Reading Post

Review: Seat Exeo

Breaking new ground, altering perceptions, is difficult in any retail business, but maybe more so in motoring.

Skoda is the classic example … how long has it taken the public to fully embrace their well-engineered, greatly driveable cars?

Each marque tends to occupy a niche in our perception, and SEAT is no exception.

Twenty or so years ago, the model range seemed to consist of their own take on smaller Fiats, but under the Volkswagen group’s guiding hand the company has transformed its range, winning many new buyers along the way.

Most people will now think of the company as a maker of family hatchbacks with a youthful, innovative spirit, leaning towards serious performance with the Leon Cupra … a touch of “auto emocion” indeed.

But a producer of exec-mobiles? Not really.

So, enter the Seat Exeo, to plough a new furrow for the Spanish manufacturer – a car line up in the entry-level executive market, typified by the BMW 3-series and Audi A4.

Mention of the latter car is appropriate as this car will look familiar from some angles. New front and rear end styling gives the motor its own identity but the bodyshell is from the A4, surely no bad thing.

Exterior design is certainly important to SEAT.

Their latest line-up of smaller cars has a truly distictive style, and much of this continues in the Exeo.

There’s a balance of elegance and sportiness, with the front of the car having what the company calls “arrow design”.

The double headlights stretch towards the side of the body and the radiator grille, with the prominent marque badge, forms a downward sloping line, hence the arrow.

Sporty character is emphasised in a front skirt with air vents and fog lights, while the rear light clusters and bumper continue that theme along with a twin-tailpipe exhaust.

But the inside story is the more remarkable.

Slip into the driver’s seat and the amount of kit surrounding you is phenomenal.

We borrowed the Exeo 2.0 TDi SE Lux for a week and seemed to be still finding new buttons to press at the end of the loan period. Of course, many other cars come fully-loaded, but you won’t find the Exeo’s level of equipment anywhere else for the price … more of that later.

Suffice to say that standard gear on our model included acoustic (sound deadening) windscreen, dark tinted rear privacy glass, electrically heated and folding door mirrors, auto-dimming rear view mirror, rear parking sensors, tyre pressure monitoring, headlight washers, rain sensor for automatic wipers and light sensor for auto headlamps, steering wheel-mounted audio and phone controls. The list goes on and on.

The hi-tech kit is augmented by good quality leather upholstery and leather-bound steering wheel and and gear-knob.

So far, so luxurious.

But is it a case of handsome is as handsome does…. would the driving experience live up to all the fancy interior surroundings?

The Exeo uses the new generation of VW engines and our 143bhp four-cylinder turbo diesel didn’t disappoint (there’s a 170bhp diesel and a 197bhp turbo petrol, too) with plenty of low-down torque that made safe overtaking a doddle.

The engine was a bit rumbly on start-up but soon settled down sound-wise once underway.

The six speed manual gearbox has well-spaced ratios, the clutch is light and the brakes progressive and confidence-inspiring.

The car feels taut on the road, with predictable, responsive handling.

Our driving week included the commuter crawl, some tootling around town and the odd motorway gallop, and the Exeo proved an amiable partner in all those conditions.

Other models in the starter-exec line-up will give you a similar, or maybe slightly better, level of motoring pleasure, but the Exeo surely beats the competition hands down when it comes to value for money.

Our test car came with a price tag of under £20,500, and the range, with a well-equipped base model, the S, starts at £18,240.

Shifting perceptions? SEAT’s vfm-laden Exeo should do just that.

Make/model: Seat Exeo 2.0 TDi CR SE Lux.

Technical: 1968cc four-cylinder turbo diesel engine; six speed manual gearbox.

Performance: 0-62mph, 9.2 secs; top speed, 133mph.

Fuel: 51.4mpg(combined).

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