The Exeo ST (Sport Tourer) is fighting in a highly-competitive sector against some very established rivals.
The Ford Mondeo is the best-selling fleet car in this sector and was the sixth most popular fleet car overall last year. So to see just how tough a challenge the Seat faces we tested an equivalent Mondeo.
If your drivers need an estate with load-lugging capability, then in terms of interior space and layout, the Mondeo is the superior car
With the rear seats of the Ford estate folded down, it creates a massive load area of 1,733 litres. In comparison, the Exeo ST offers just 1,354 litres.
With the seats up, the Mondeo also beats the Exeo, offering 542 litres compared to the Seat’s 442.
Passenger comfort is also better in the Ford, with noticeably more leg-room in the back seats compared to the Exeo.
The Seat is a great driver’s car – it does, after all, sit on the previous Audi A4 platform and benefits from revised steering and suspension set ups – and it gets the Volkswagen Group’s 2.0-litre 143bhp common-rail diesel.
But the switchgear and dashboard feel and look old (because they are), while the Mondeo is still fresh. And this is important to drivers who spend hours behind the wheel.
Cost, however, is king and it is here that the Ford starts – on the face of it – to come unstuck.
Its list price is high – a higher-powered Exeo with similar equipment levels to the Mondeo 2.0-litre Econetic is £1,700 cheaper – which will deter drivers paying benefit-in-kind tax based on P11D prices.
Because of this high list price, the pence-per-mile costs go against the Ford. While both cars on test returned around 44mpg, the Exeo is much cheaper per mile to run.
Over three years and 60,000 miles it should cost 35.36 pence per mile, with the Mondeo at 38.63ppm.
The Exeo is forecast to retain 30% of its value after three years, compared to the Ford’s 23%.
It’s a compelling case for the Exeo.
One note of caution: the figures don’t take account of any discount that fleets negotiate – a higher discount on the Mondeo means better wholelife costs.