Our cars: Seat Exeo ST 2.0 TDI 143 SE - May

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  • Seat Exeo tested
  • Year-long review
  • Tested by Alex Jenner-Fust
There’s a fine line between tatty hand-me-downs and vintage frocks. The Seat Exeo might be dressed in the cast-off clobber of the old Audi A4, but it’s wearing the outfit well and represents a canny bargain to boot.

Audi’s DNA is clear in both the shape of the car and the layout and quality of the interior. The lid of every cubby is beautifully damped, and all the major controls are simply laid out and easy to use.

We ordered the Exeo with our favourite engine in the range: the 141bhp 2.0-litre diesel, which is smooth and strong, with masses of oomph and a reassuringly low thirst for fuel.
The car looks great in red, and SE trim is generously equipped with cruise and climate controls, automatic lights and wipers, Bluetooth and steering wheel-mounted buttons to control the stereo, sat-nav and phone.

We did add a few treats: that sat-nav was an eye-watering £1775, but it’s essential for my work; the storage pack, which includes useful elastic straps in the boot and a ski bag and hatch was £95; and an iPod connection in the glovebox added another £60 to the bill.

I was genuinely excited when I collected the car from Spur Garage Hampton Court, Middlesex (020 8941 9848). Senior sales executive Ian Brookfield took me through a thorough handover.

Ian also took care to explain how the diesel particulate filter works, and let me know that if I make only short journeys, a warning light may come on to let me know the filter is clogged up. However, as long as I do the odd high-speed trip, it’ll stay clear.

The Exeo has slipped into family life with little fuss. It’s not a vast estate, but ideal for family weekends away. I’ve been impressed to get more than 44mpg, albeit most of those miles were done on motorway runs.

There’s been a single niggle: one day the rear-view mirror came away in my hand as I adjusted it. I snapped it back into place, but will keep a close eye on it.

Seat says the name is taken from the Latin for ‘go beyond’, and the Exeo certainly does go beyond being simply a designer copy. Already, it seems to have hit the sweet spot between Audi’s style and Seat’s sportiness.

Seat Exeo ST 2.0 TDI 143 SE
List price £21,395
Target Price £20,387
Test started March 2010
Total mileage 1000
Extras Satellite-navigation £1775; metallic paint £340; storage pack £95; iPod connection £60
Test fuel economy 37.9mpg
Official fuel economy 57.6mpg
CO2/tax liability 130g/km/18%
Servicing and repairs Scratched alloy wheel repaired £65

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