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Our Fleet Test Drive: Seat Exeo ST - Final Report

Date: 15 November 2010   |   Author: Rachel Burgess

Seat has never been a major business player, but with the arrival of a decent upper medium estate model, the Exeo ST, BusinessCar wanted to see whether the brand could enhance its fleet profile.

Our car, the 143hp 2.0 TDI, has been a hit in the BusinessCar fleet thanks to its "no-frills, safe, robust, and economical" qualities, as one driver put it. Indeed, as a last-generation Audi A4 with some new panels, the Exeo ST has proven to be a trusty companion with good handling, ride quality and decent quality and comfortable cabin [1].

Its biggest downfall has been the boot space. With 442 litres available in the rear and 1354 litres with the seats down, it is noticeably smaller than at least two key rivals, the Vauxhall Insignia Tourer and the Mazda 6 estate, which have 540 and 519 litres respectively. Undertaking the small-child-plus-Labrador-on-holiday test [2] pushed the car's carrying capacity to the limit, suggesting it might not be quite up to scratch on this front.

Boot space aside, there were a few other niggles, such as having slight difficulty with changing radio stations and a design fault that meant that when the handbrake was applied it clashed with the armrest [3].

Generally, though, while the Exeo ST is unremarkable, it has been a comforting stablemate, accompanying families on trips to France and the New Forest, and has proven to be comfortable on motorways as well as holding its own on winding B-roads. It also handled corners well, while solid steering and balanced suspension meant no hassle on any number of road surfaces.

Fuel consumption hasn't been hugely impressive, with admittedly not light-footed drivers of the car recording an average of 37.3mpg against official figures of 51.4mpg. On the flip-side, KwikCarcost has improved the residual value prediction of the Exeo ST over the last six months, dropping the predicted cost per mile below 50p.

Seat's biggest challenge is not its cars but a lack of awareness of the brand in the fleet market, a problem best illustrated by the frequent "that's a nice car - what is it?" queries that were directed at us. The Spanish carmaker is on the case, however, pushing the brand to fleets through its expanded corporate team as well as marketing, so its profile should improve over time.

The Exeo ST is far from the obvious choice in this competitive sector, not least because of its disappointing boot size. But a driver who likes an estate's looks and could do with a bit more space without that being of paramount importance, would be wise to consider the Seat. It is a good-value, solid car with little to fault.

Seat Exeo ST 2.0 TDI 143hp
Mileage8176
Claimed combined
consumption
53.3mpg
Our average
consumption
37.6mpg
P11D price£21,250
CO2 (tax) 143g/km CO2 (20%)
BIK 20/40% per month£71/£142
Service interval10,000mls
Insurancegroup 24
Warranty3yrs/60,000mls
Boot space (min/max)442/1354 litres
Engine size/power1968cc/143hp
Top speed/0-62mph129mph/9.6secs
Why we’re running itTo see whether Seat’s first
upper medium competitor
is a serious proposition
Positiveood value and
specification
NegativeIs it more than an
Audi hand-me-down?




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