Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0

Both engines in the Exeo are used across the Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda ranges. One petrol version is available - a 2.0-litre TSI with 200bhp. It's actually the same engine that powers the 2005 Volkswagen Golf GTI, but feels less eager in the larger Exeo, although that doesn't stop it accelerating from 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds. Unsurprisingly it's the 2.0 TDI that most people choose though.

It's available in three different power outputs: 120bhp, 143bhp and 170bhp but the mid-powered version makes the most sense, offering a good blend of strong performance and economy - it can average 51mpg. Unlike previous SEAT diesels, this engine is common rail, which means it is much smoother and quieter. That's certainly noticeable when cruising, although at higher revs it can get noisy.

All versions offer strong performance, especially from low revs, while the 170bhp model accelerates from 0-62mph in 8.4 seconds.

SEAT has always had a good reputation for keen handling and the Exeo follows that tradition. The steering is positive and precise with good feel, plus there's plenty of front end grip. It's front wheel drive, but even with the more powerful engines, there's plenty of traction out of slow corners. At higher speeds the Exeo feels composed and smooth, helped by an impressive ride.

The suspension set-up is quite firm, but it soaks up bumps well and means body roll in bends is kept to a minimum. The Sport model comes with a slightly firmer set-up, but it still copes with rough surfaces and is noticeably better on twisting roads.