- We like...Price, classy cabin, drive
- We don't...Not enough space in rear
It may wear the Spanish car-maker's badge - but it's an Audi A4 in disguise. Is this new family-size car any good?Look hard at the car pictured here. It is new, but it looks familiar, too. Yep, no prizes for spotting what’s happened here. This is a lightly disguised, previous-generation Audi A4, given new life. Seat has returned it to the fray by giving it a new nose, affixing a couple of Seat badges before slapping its rump and sending it out to find some buyers.
To be scrupulously fair, the job involved a little more than that. Seat says that almost a third of the car is new. On the outside, the bonnet and boot are new, while inside Audi-nerds will spot at once that the dash is lifted from the cabrio version of the A4. It’s there because Seat wanted the car to look sportier than it otherwise might. For the rest, the cabin is very much Audi in its mix of high-quality plastics, well chosen fabrics and switchgear that snicks precisely as it responds to your touch.
Why do this? Simple. Seat set itself the task of massively increasing the number of cars it sells, here and across the rest of Europe. It could try to sell many more of the cars it already makes (which would be hard) and/or it could venture into corners of the market it dsn’t currently occupy (which would be easy, but also slow and expensive).
There’s two crucial things I should add here. First, Seat is a sister brand to Audi: they’re owned by the same company. Second, Seat’s current boss is ex-Audi and so was perfectly placed to spot the opportunity.
But where ds all this leave you as a would-be buyer? Sitting prettily, because the Exeo is priced against the Peugeot 407, Honda Accord or Volkswagen Passat and other family cars. It’s a good £5000 cheaper than the current A4 line-up.
All Exeos come well equipped. Even the entry model, the S, comes with six airbags, climate control and alloy wheels. The higher trim levels, SE and Sport have all the bits and pieces you’d expect on a plush Audi, although satellite navigation is one of the few cost options.
Like the previous A4, it looks good and is very roomy for those upfront. Six-footers sat in the back will find their bonces brushing the roof lining, though, and their knees bashing the seat in front, although the boot is a big ‘un and you can add space by dropping the seat backs.
For now, a 140bhp 2.0-litre diesel is the only engine you can have, although 167bhp and 120bhp versions of that engine are on their way, along with a 2.0-litre petrol turbo pushing out 198bhp. With the mid-range 2.0 diesel, the car pulls sweetly and is quiet – in part because this engine is of a new design, rather than the clattery unit that powered the previous A4. Seat has re-set the suspension to make it a sporty drive and they’ve done a neat job: it balances alert responses with an ability to sooth away the worst bumps.
Should you buy one? Why not: it’s different, classy and, given what you’re getting, a real bargain.
- Engines2.0 diesel
- 0-60 mph9.2secs
- Insurance groups12E
Motors.co.uk value verdict: