Although the Exeo is clearly very closely related to the old A4 (Seat calculates that 70 percent of the components are shared), there are clear mechanical differences. The most notable is the 2.0 TDI engine, a common-rail unit used across the VW Group brands but never found in the old A4, which instead employed pumpe düse technology. As in its other applications, this 2.0-litre diesel impresses with its refinement and linearity of torque delivery.
This is an engine that will dish out traditional turbodiesel-style whoosh if you so desire, but it doesn’t need to be driven that way. Such is the spread of torque and precision of accelerator response that it is easy to access just the right amount of propulsion. All out, 0-60mph takes 9.1sec and the real-world measure of 30-70mph is dispatched in 8.8sec. In both respects this is quicker than the figures we recorded for the current A4 2.0 TDI with the same engine.
This is partly explained by the Exeo’s 80kg weight advantage, but also some cannily chosen gear ratios. First through fourth are broadly in line with the Audi’s, giving keen performance, while fifth and sixth are markedly taller for quieter cruising and better fuel economy.
The gearchange quality is another area where the Exeo tops the current offering from Audi; the movement is precise and pleasantly mechanical, but smooth-shifting and ideally weighted. It’s disappointing, then, that on one of the two Exeos we sampled the clutch produced an occasional vibration as the plates engaged, particularly in reverse.