Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0

The choice of engines is quite restricted, but those that are offered with the Exeo ST are some of the best available in the Volkswagen Group. The 2.0-litre TDI diesel is available with 120, 140 or 170bhp. It’s smooth, reasonably refined and willing, with plenty of power on tap for overtaking – the 140bhp version is the most popular. In this form, it gets from 0-62mph in 9.6 seconds and has a top speed of 128mph.

The 170bhp version is around a second quicker to 62mph yet still returns an impressive 48mpg. Unlike the diesels fitted in previous SEATs, this one is a common rail engine – that means it’s smoother, quieter and more refined than similar engines in some older models. It makes for comfortable motorway cruising. The petrol option is a turbocharged 2.0-litre with 200bhp – the same engine that you’ll find in the 2005 Volkswagen Golf GTI.

Its performance figures don’t quite match up to that of Volkswagen’s hot hatch, but it will still get to 62mph in 7.6 seconds and onto 146 mph – quick for an estate of this size. It's less economical than the diesels though and for that reason it only accounts for a small proportion of Exeo STs on the road. All cars have a six-speed gearbox but there's no automatic available.

The Exeo ST strikes a balance between being sporty to drive and comfortable on longer trips. It continues SEAT’s reputation for engineering cars that handle well with precise, well weighted steering and excellent levels of grip – ideal for enthusiastic cornering. It feels composed at all times with a smooth ride and surefooted manner. The standard suspension is firm, but does an excellent job of soaking up bumps when needed.

Those looking for sharper handling should opt for the Sport model with its lower ride height and stiffer suspension set-up. It’s noticeably firmer, but is even better at coping with twisty roads.