Designed to broaden its appeal, SEAT adds a multitronic option to its Exeo range. Motoring writer KEITH WARD gave it a try.
NEW to the SEAT stable this Spring is a sensationally smooth automatic gearbox for the Exeo saloon. Allied to the parent VW group’s most popular 1.9 turbo diesel engine, it aims to broaden the Exeo’s appeal to business users who already account for eight out of ten customers.
On the road, the seven-step, constantly variable transmission (CVT) is a super smoothy. Attempts to ruffle its feathers by switching to manual changes of gear through its racing-style, steering wheel paddles proved futile.
At 50 mph on a level road, when its own choice would be top seventh gear, I changed manually down to sixth, then fifth, then fourth and even to third, by which time the engine note was a stifled scream at 3,500 rpm. But each downward step was accepted without a tremor; ruffle-free.
Despite this brutal treatment, an average 41.1 mpg was recorded on a 50-mile dash through the sun-splashed, beautiful landscape of the Cotswolds, against an official combined rating of 48.7. A C02 score of 153 g/km puts it into tax band G.
Launched two years ago, the Exeo itself, taking on such formidable rep-mobiles as the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Insignia, is now the third best-selling SEAT model in the UK.
Latest figures show March this year as the Spanish brand’s best ever month in the UK since it arrived here 25 years ago.
Also tried was a Sport version of the Exeo SE Tech Multitronic, identical to the car described above except for a harder suspension, sports seats, 18-inch five-spoke alloys and fancier lower door trim, with no tax or insurance penalties. Recommended. It will appeal to sportier company car drivers who can persuade their bosses to lay out an extra £995.
Otherwise at £23,230 the non-Sport Exeo SE Tech Multitronic comes with an impressive standard spec, including DVD-based navigation, 10-speaker Bose audio, black leather upholstery, automatic lights and wipers, cruise control and integrated Bluetooth hands-free phone with voice control.
Meanwhile SEAT introduce special “Copa” editions of the Leon and Ibiza with extra features at a claimed £1,000 saving until the end of June. Example: the Ibiza SC SE Copa 1.4 at £11,995 comes with climate control and refrigerated glovebox, cruise control, repeater audio controls on the steering column, light and rain sensors, tinted rear windows, 16-inch alloys, leather steering wheel and gearknob, special Copa upholstery and height adjustable front seats.
Model: SEAT Exeo SE Tech 2.0 TDI CR 143 PS Multitronic
Body: Four-door saloon; five seats; boot 460 litres; drop-down rear seats
Engine: Diesel turbo; 1,968 cc; 143 PS; 320 Nm torque
Gearbox: Seven-step Multitronic CVT automatic; steering wheel shift paddles
Pace: 129 mph; 0-62 in 9.3 secs
MPG: On test 41.1; official combined 48.7
CO2: 153 g/km; tax band G; BIK 23%; road tax disc £165 first year
Warranty: 36 months/60,000 miles; 12 years body; 24 months Europe-wide breakdown
PRICE: £23,230; with options as tested £23,975