Seat Exeo 2.0TDI 120S 17 | 08 | 2010Scotcars rating

    When is an Audi not an Audi? When, in the case of the Exeo, it's actually a pretty good Seat

    WHEN IS AN Audi not an Audi? Strange question maybe, but at a time when recycling is one of the biggest issues on the planet, the answer lies in the giant Volkswagen Group’s decision to re-use the high-quality platform from an Audi, further develop it and rebadge it as a Seat; hence you have the excellent Seat Exeo.

    Whatever you do though, don’t instantly write the car off as an old car simply re-dressed with some modern fashion accessories. To take such a simplistic approach would be to deny yourself the possibility of owning one of the most cost-efficient and value-for-money cars on the road.

    Seat, of course, is part of the same VW Group which owns Audi. And what is Audi renowned for? That’s right, quality. But that quality generally comes at a price when you view the price list. Now though, with the Seat Exeo, you not only get Audi quality for Seat money but — whisper it — you actually get a better car.

    Such was the investment in the five-door Exeo, which is based on the previous generation Audi A4, that the whole A4 production line was lifted from Germany and reinstalled in Spain. Of course there are external changes to the car. There’s a new bonnet and bootlid, new bumpers and wheel designs, plus new front and rear light clusters.

    Seat states that around 70% of the Exeo comes straight from the Audi. Slide yourself behind the driver’s seat, however, and you’re instantly surrounded by the fascia and cabin from a A4 Cabriolet. And, believe me, it oozes quality and solidity.

    One of the Seat Exeo’s biggest attractions is its size

    Here size does matter

    Not only that, but while the front seats retain their bolstered support — there’s also more than adequate space for rear passengers — the remainder of the cabin basques in the beautifully understated craftsmanship for which the German manufacturer is famous for. Inside the Exeo’s cabin is certainly a nice place to be and you can’t help but enjoy the feel-good factor associated with sitting in a premium-class cockpit.

    There’s a comprehensive choice of petrol and diesel engines, with the latest common-rail 2.0TDI available with either 14bhp or 168bhp (a 118bhp version will follow later this year). Initially all models are available with manual transmission, though a Multitronic (CVT) gearbox is planned for the 2.0 TSI petrol.

    Interestingly, one of the Seat Exeo’s biggest attractions is its size; and here size does matter, but not necessarily in the way you would expect. While the current crop of mainstream and premium cars — such as the Mondeo, Insignia, Passat and Accord — have grown in size, the Exeo’s A4 roots actually work in its favour. At 4661mm long and 1772mm wide, it’s 183mm shorter and 114mm narrower than the new Mondeo which makes it a far greater attraction for today’s ever-more congested streets and city centres.

    A whopping saving

    All cars across the range drive impeccably with perhaps the pick of the bunch being the 170bhp diesel which, with its tall sixth gear will return well in excess of 50mpg on a long run. With it’s brisk acceleration and relaxed cruising abilities, the Exeo boasts impressive mile-munching ability.

    Not only that, but with prices starting at just £18,775 for the Exeo 2.0TDI 120S — which comes with alloys, six airbags, dual climate control and cruise control — it’s a whopping saving on the equivalent diesel Mondeo. And if you can find a further £900, you can upgrade to the SE which gives you better interior trim, rear parking sensors and the acoustic windscreen which further soundproofs the cabin.

    And there are some innovative options available across the range, including a solar sunroof which can actually cool the car; a state-of-the-art sat-nav system, and Bluetooth mobile phone technology. There’s no denying the Seat Exeo — there’s also a headturning ST estate — is an intriguing car with genuine and undoubted premium construction. An Audi for Seat money? It’s the perfect credit crunch solution.

    Jim McGill

    Quick Stats
    Price OTR/As Tested £18,775 / £19,435
    Engine / Power: 1998cc / 118bhp
    How fast?: 0-60 mph 10.5secs, Max 139mph
    How big/heavy?: H1430mm W2010mm L4661mm / 1440kg
    How thirsty/CO2?: Combined 53.3mpg / CO2 139g/km
    InsGP/Road tax: 21 /
    Alternatives: Ford Mondeo, Vauxhall Insignia, Volkswagen Passat

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