Seat Exeo ST

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Seat Exeo ST front cornering

We get behind the wheel of the updated Exeo estate

Verdict

3

You get a lot for your money with the Exeo ST, and it’s an intriguing alternative choice. However, there’s no avoiding the fact that it’s a seven-year-old Audi. So while it’s a useful stopgap in the range, SEAT still needs to develop its own model to make a big impact in the family class. When production of Audi’s third-generation A4 came to a halt, the entire assembly line was moved from Germany to Spain so SEAT could quickly build its own family car contender: the Exeo. Four years later, the Exeo has been given a facelift to keep it competitive.

The updates apply to the saloon and this ST estate, and include new wheels, improved leather and smart LED running lights for top-spec cars. Tweaks to the 2.0 TDI diesel we tested have improved economy and emissions, but rivals offer better figures – SEAT is developing an eco-friendly Ecomotive version to be launched later this year.

One area where the Exeo isn’t left wanting is for standard kit. Our SE Tech cost £22,080, and was loaded with luxuries such as sat-nav, Bluetooth, cruise control, a Bose stereo and dual-zone climate control. You have to spend a lot more to get similar kit on a Ford Mondeo or VW Passat.

The ST also adds silver roof rails, plus a retractable net that allows you to separate the boot from the rear seats. However, boot space is merely adequate, with a maximum capacity of 1,354 litres – rivals like the Mondeo and Skoda Superb are better for carrying big loads.

Some of the kit gives away the Exeo’s Audi roots: the sat-nav is from the ageing TT, while the iPod dock is a fiddly slot in the glovebox, rather than an easily accessible lead.

On the road, the suspension is on the firm side, but it doesn’t crash over rough surfaces, and the car is quiet and comfortable on the motorway. In corners, the weight of the engine out over the front wheels makes the SEAT feel nose-heavy – a familiar sensation for anyone who’s driven the A4 it’s based on – but the steering is positive and the Exeo is enjoyable to drive.

Key specs

* Price: £22,080
* Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl diesel
* Power: 141bhp
* 0-62mph: 9.6 seconds
* Economy/CO2: 56.5mpg/132g/km
* Equipment: Leather, retractable boot partition net, sat-nav, Bose stereo, climate control, auto lights
* On sale: Now