Buyers of the SEAT Exeo clearly have an eye for value. As a rebadged previous-generation Audi A4, it’s not a car you go for if you want to be at the cutting edge, rather a cut-price way of getting into a model with a premium pedigree.
So the new ST Ecomotive version should make a lot of sense to those who want to keep costs down. It’s fitted with a 2.0-litre diesel engine, available with either 118 or 141bhp, and emits 119 g/km of CO2, whichever one you choose (or 117g/km if you go for the saloon). That equates to a Band C road tax bill of £30. Claimed fuel economy is a very respectable 62.8mpg.
The impressive numbers are achieved by fitting stop-start technology, low rolling- resistance tyres, lowered suspension and an energy recovery system.
Only the 141bhp version will be offered in the UK, and the estate we drove came with a six-speed manual gearbox, in Spanish-market Style trim. This is broadly the equivalent of SE Tech for the UK.
On the motorway, the Ecomotive is comfortable and refined, pulling well from low revs. It’s less adept on B-roads, where its dated underpinnings mean the handling could be sharper. In town, the lower suspension makes road bumps more noticeable, but the stop-start is unobtrusive.
In short, it’s competent rather than charismatic. In reality, though, anyone after a class-leading drive probably won’t be looking at the Exeo in the first place. This, after all, is a car that can trace its roots way back to the previous A4’s introduction in 2001.
But there’s still plenty to recommend it. Build quality is very good, the cabin comfortable and at £23,715, it’s reasonably priced, considering the kit on offer will include sat-nav, leather and a quality Bose stereo. It commands a £460 premium over the standard model without the Ecomotive tweaks, but fuel economy is up from 56.5mpg.
Admittedly, it’s unlikely to attract many converts from more mainstream family cars or compact execs. But if the idea of an Exeo appeals, this is a strong addition to the range.