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SEAT Exeo SE Tech 2.0 TDI 143PS Multitronic

Click to view picture gallery“To date, SEAT, the Spanish arm of
  the Volkswagen family, has benefited
  greatly from younger customers
  buying into the brand because of its
 
Motorsport successes. Now its the
  turn of their Exeo — with a CVT
  automatic transmission
to drum
  up more sales
...”


TIMES, ESPECIALLY ECONOMIC TIMES, THEY ARE A CHANGIN' SEAT's Motorsport activities are now less prominent; as too are younger retail buyers in the brand's showrooms. That said, SEAT's UK registrations figures show an increase (+2.9%) this year compared with the same period in 2010. Given that the overall new car market is 7.3 per cent down, around three per cent up is a strong showing.

The Exeo is of particular importance because, thanks to its larger size, it's also suited to the healthy business fleet and company car markets. But the Exeo is not aimed just at business users young SEAT enthusiasts get older and acquire family responsibilities so the four-door Exeo saloon (or five-door estate with more family-friendly space) allows them to stay loyal to a sporty brand.

“The Exeo is not aimed
just at business users —
as young SEAT
enthusiasts
get older and acquire
family responsibilities so
the four-door Exeo
saloon (or five-door
estate with more family-
friendly space) allows
them to stay loyal
to a sporty brand
...”
First on sale in April 2009, this Spring the Exeo models acquired a Multitronic automatic transmission option good news for high-mileage drivers.

The engine line-up is also geared towards high-mileage usage with three 2.0-litre TDI turbodiesel units (118, 141 and 167bhp) and one 208bhp 2.0-litre TSI petrol engine. Trim levels are S, SE, SE Tech, Sport, Sport Tech and SE Lux.

Exeo saloon prices run from 19,175 to 24,215; Exeo ST estates begin at 20,215 and range up to 25,255.

Being a member of the VW 'family' enables SEAT to make best use of the latest Volkswagen technology, components and running gear from other family members, be it VW, Audi or Skoda. Size-wise, the Exeo sits neatly between the Skoda Octavia and Superb ranges and uses a similar bodyshell and platform from the previous Audi A4 and VW Passat.

So far as rivals go, the SEAT Exeo does not just have to compete with its fellow VW family members but also a clutch of popular hard-hitters for example, the best-selling Vauxhall Insignia, Ford Mondeo, Citroen C5, Mazda6, Honda Accord, Peugeot 508 and the Toyota Avensis.

Tested here is the Exeo SE Tech 2.0 TDI 143PS (141bhp) saloon fitted with the recently available Multitronic CVT automatic transmission option (sequential stick and steering column-mounted shift-paddles), priced at 23,230.

Over the manual gearbox model, with the same engine and spec, this auto version costs an extra 1,505 to buy. It emits 153g/km of CO2, which means annual road tax cost of 165. By comparison, the manual's emissions are 136g/km with less costly road tax of 115. Company car drivers will pay 23 per cent Benefit-in-Kind tax for the auto version and 20 per cent for the manual model.

Officially, the auto Exeo does 48.7mpg in the Combined Cycle, the manual model 54.3mpg and, of course, the auto is marginally slower for top speed and acceleration. Insurance costs are the same Group 24E. Note that these comparative figures are specifically about the saloon model although the Exeo ST estate manual/auto comparison is very similar.

“The initial conclusion,
just from looking at
the purchase price,
running costs and the
ongoing taxes, is that
while the seamless
CVT Multitronic auto is
a nice option to have,
it unfortunately doesn’t
add up financially
...”
The initial conclusion, just from looking at the purchase price, running costs and the ongoing taxes, is that while the seamless CVT Multitronic auto is a nice option to have, it unfortunately doesn't add up financially.

Top speed for the 141bhp 2.0 TDI with the Multitronic CVT automatic transmission is a more-than-adequate 129mph; zero to 62mph takes 9.3 seconds.

During my test drive, which included motorway driving and local stop-start conditions, it returned a competitive 43.2mpg although still shy of the official 48.7mpg. Unlike the more modern twin-clutch auto gearboxes used by other VW Group models, CVT automatics sap an engine's performance, emit more CO2 and return lower fuel economy.

That said, there are positive things to say about this Exeo. The SE Tech specification is, for the price, very good and includes black leather, DVD-based SatNav, a BOSE premium audio upgrade, dual-zone climate control, power-operated front and rear windows and door mirrors, Bluetooth, cruise, automatic lights and wipers, alarm, remote locking and a full complement of airbags. As business 'wheels', its useful specification makes long hours behind the wheel that bit more bearable.

In it's favour the Exeo is very well equipped; in particular the manual model, which is well priced, comes with lower running and taxation costs. However, the auto adds too much in the way of the purchase price, running costs and higher tax levels.

While the Exeo saloon is not the roomiest model in this segment it does appear well-built and the engine feels strong and, as we know, is a reliable performer. The interior will seat five at a push and behind them is a 460-litre boot. Ride and handling are no more than average and the competition is fierce.
— David Miles

SEAT Exeo SE Tech 2.0 TDI 143PS Multitronic | 23,230
Maximum speed: 129mph | 0-62mph: 9.3 seconds | Overall Test MPG: 43.2mpg
Power: 141bhp | Torque: 236lb ft | CO2 153g/km