ROAD TEST: SEAT EXEO SE TECH, 2.0 TDi 143PS MULTITRONIC
Available in three main trim levels the Exeo is divided into a further nine categories of trim with options galore. The SE Tech (Tech denotes that you get £3k worth of kit for a knock down price of £900 pounds) features a 'familiar interior'. The solid build quality, tactile switchgear, ergonomics and use of high grade materials throughout is unmatched in this class. The Half leather/Alcantara seats are firm but comfortable, interior space up front is manageable but rear seated occupants may feel squeezed out if they are tall, being of average height I found my head was just scrapping the roof lining though knee room wasn't too much of an issue. Boot space is capacious, 460 litre's will swallow up that that lazy weekend and the 60/40 split rear seats will swallow up even more luggage, the dog or the Mafiosi's latest target that never got out of the restaurant door.
Safe and composed to drive the Exeo exhibits high levels of grip which outshine any underlying handling dynamics, chassis balance is pretty much neutral in the dry neither displaying an unhinged side to its nature nor willing to stretch beyond its laconic base. An abundance of steering feedback doesn't come naturally to the Exeo, the steering is designed for relaxed driving and yet when cruising at motorway speeds there is a slight fidgety nature to the setup which requires minor input correction. It is an issue that has existed in Seat's sister brand Audi for many years and seems to have been carried over. however the front and rear multi-link suspension does a fine job of keeping the cars body control in check through the corners and the ride is generally comfortable over most surfaces, the damper settings cushion occupants from the the worst that British roads can muster.
The 2.0, 4 cylinder turbodiesel engine is as always refined, smooth and modestly quite. Mated to an 8 speed Multitronic dual shift gearbox means rapid fire gear changes without so much of a flinch between changes. The S mode function, when selected, changes the gearshift pattern revving higher between each shift. With 140bhp and 320 Nm of torque available at 1750rpm the Exeo doesn't feel particularly quick, 0-62 is covered in a respectable 9.2 seconds. With eight gears you would expect improved fuel consumption but the trade of between carrying the extra weight of those extra gear cogs becomes evident when the combined fuel consumption reads 38mpg. On the plus side the extra gears do make for a quite cruiser on the move, in top gear, at 70mph the Exeo will hum away at 2,000rpm, the SE TEch's double glazed windows probably also help.
The Seat Exeo is a difficult car to review because it already has been in another life cycle, for around £23k the SE Tech model gets you a fully loaded car, this review model came with just over £3k worth of options including Bi-xenon headlights with LED 'daylights', sunroof, half leather trim. They say the Exeo is about the value proposition and that about fits the cars tag, its a fine all rounder well priced and loaded with kit, but for some it may well suffer from an identity problem.