SEAT Exeo 2.0 TDI

Sport

IT'S certainly a SEAT but not as you know it.

For a few years now the Spanish arm of the Volkswagen empire has been developing a distinctive family identity throughout its range.

Line up an Ibiza, a Leon and an Altea and it's easy to see they're related.

But the Exeo is something of an outsider. If it were included in a family line-up it would stand out as very different.

The reason is that it's actually a reworked Audi A4.

When the current A4 was launched the production line for the previous generation model was shipped lock, stock and barrel to Spain and it now produces the Exeo.

One can see the logic in such a move and it has plenty of appeal for would-be buyers who fancy what is in effect an Audi saloon at a significantly reduced price.

And the SEAT designers have done their bit to help it blend in with the brand's overall look.

There are a fair number of modifications that do help to differentiate it from the car on which it is based.

The front and rear ends have been significantly altered and do a good job of emulating the Seat design DNA. Stand-out features are new light clusters and the bumpers and wheels have also been changed, as well as plenty more besides.

The interior is very Audi-esque, which is a good thing, featuring high quality switchgear and soft-touch plastics in all the right places.

If one were to compare it to the current A4 the cabin is noticeably smaller but it is still more than adequate to serve as a family car.

The best thing about it though is a great diesel engine that was brand spanking new when the car was launched.

It comes in 143 and 170bhp guises and the lower-powered one I tried is excellent in pretty much every respect.

Smooth and refined it packs a decent punch that makes overtaking, even with a full load, an absolute breeze.

Combined with the suspension and steering modifications it ensures the Exeo manages to deliver as a driver's car too.

Much of my time at the wheel was spent on the sort of challenging A roads where driving can be a real pleasure and the Exeo felt good - well balanced, nimble and sure-footed. More importantly it didn't feel dated in any way

FAST FACTS

SEAT Exeo 2.0 TDI Sport

Price: £21,360

Mechanical: 143ps, 1,968cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 134mph

0-62mph: 9.2 seconds

Combined MPG: 53.3

Insurance Group: 12

C02 emissions: 136g/km

Bik rating: 15%

Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles

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