Our Fleet Test Drive: Seat Exeo ST - 1st Report
09 April 2010
Author: Rachel Burgess
 Smart interior
To be considered a serious fleet player a manufacturer must have an upper medium competitor, which is why Seat has introduced the Exeo ST.
The brand is obviously in a rush to conquer the fleet sector because it has taken a shortcut to market by stealing the production machinery and tooling for the last-generation Audi A4. The question is, having taken this route, can Seat prove its business car credentials by providing a model that's at least on a par with the big players?
For the next six months, we will sample the 143hp Exeo ST 2.0 TDI, which is likely to be the most popular business seller. The estate's price alone is appealing: P11D cost is £21,215, with 51.4mpg on the official combined cycle, 143g/km CO2 for a 20% BIK band and 442 litres of boot space  rising to 1354 with the seats folded.
RVs aren't great at 29.2% but the cost per mile works out at a respectable 52.5p. By comparison, the entry-level Ford Mondeo estate, a 2.0 TDCi Edge, costs £2000 more on P11D alone. While the Ford offers more boot space - 542 litres, then 1733 litres with the seats down - its standard kit is less generous. Rear parking sensors cost £434, while it's £613 for alloys and £332 for electric rear windows, quickly bumping up the price of an already more expensive car.
For our long-termer, we've chosen the standard model with just £380 of metallic paint from the options list, which shows how well-specified it is for the price. As well as including what the Mondeo doesn't, it has auto windscreen wipers and headlights, Bluetooth, steering-wheel audio controls , cruise control, heated and folding door mirrors and dual-zone climate control.
The interior  is Smart and controls are well laid-out, as well as quite obviously sourced from Audi. The only thing lacking is satnav, which costs a pricey £1775 extra. But we suspect Seat buyers will generally opt for portable satnav devices rather than buying this extra from the manufacturer.
It's early days but the six-gear manual transmission changes smoothly, the drive is comfortable, and handling is more than adequate.
Value for money alone makes this a sensible choice for estate-wanting fleet buyers. Only time will tell whether it can live up to the expectations of being a threat to more premium estate models.
|Seat Exeo ST 2.0 TDI 143hp|
|Claimed combined |
|Our average |
|Model price range||£19,775-£24,285|
|CO2 (tax) ||143g/km (20%)|
|BIK 20/40% per month||£71/£141|
|Why we’re running it||To see whether Seat’s first |
upper medium competitor
is a serious proposition
|Positive||Fresh face for the |
|Negative||Not as big as it |
looks for an estate