That’s because it intends to ‘do a Skoda’, with a similarly-recycled Volkswagen Group model.
Yes, the ‘new’ Exeo is not really, well, new: it’s actually a revived old-shape Audi A4. Just as the first Skoda Superb was little more than a Volkswagen Passat with a stretched wheelbase.
And it’s the perfect solution, reckons SEAT. With it, the company’s able to offer genuine premium-level engineering within an as-yet unexplored new sector, something it simply wouldn’t have the cash to do if developing from scratch.
The target customer? ‘It’s our business car,’ said a spokesman. A model aimed squarely at the fleet sector, and an entirely new type of buyer for the Spanish brand.
Launched in April over here, it will have two diesels (VW’s new common-rail 2.0-litre at that, with 143PS or 170PS), or the Golf GTI’s turbo petrol. It’ll come in either saloon or a yet-to-be-seen estate. Aimed at user-choosers, the key draw will be value for money.
So it’s going to be keenly priced and stacked-chocka with kit. The high-end car will carry leather, bi-Xenons, big alloys, the works. ‘This will work for company drivers who aren’t allowed to tick options boxes – here, it’s all standard. Drivers who don’t want something obvious, but do want a very high spec.’
This will be the trim sitting above a new Ibiza-like line-up of S, SE and Sport trims; the Executive line, effectively, but the name’s yet to be decided.
Target prices are £17-£20k, and sales of a few thousand would make the brand happy. ‘We want a SEAT-proportional share of the sector,’ said the spokesman for the 1.4 per cent UK share company.
‘It makes good business sense for us; it’s stretching us out of our comfort zone, and is an intriguing proposition.’
You can say that again – it is, in essence, an Audi for SEAT money. How tempting is that? We tip the Exeo to be a bit of a surprise when it’s launched next year, particularly if SEAT’s compelling price promises are met. Could be a superb opportunity for SEAT dealers…
By RICHARD AUCOCK