Seat Exeo 2.0 TDI Multitronic

Top speed: 129 mph

Acceleration: 0-62 mph in 9.3 seconds

Fuel consumption: 48.7 mpg

CO2 emissions: 153g/km

Price: Exeo range starts at £19,170, Multitronic models will cost from about £23,000.

Rivals: Audi A4 Avant, Skoda Superb estate, Vauxhall Insignia estate

Seat has introduced a worthwhile new option for its Exeo saloons and estates - an automatic gearbox.

Only a small minority of buyers in what Seat calls the “non-premium upper-medium segment” opt for an automatic transmission, and so far, the Exeo doesn't seem to have had too much difficulty winning friends without one. Nevertheless, the company believes the new gearbox option could be ordered by up to 15% of Exeo buyers, even though it will only be available in conjunction with a single engine choice, the 143 horsepower version of the company's 2.0-litre common-rail diesel, and the more expensive SE Tech and Sport Tech trim levels, at a cost of about £1500 (exact pricing hasn't been confirmed yet). Otherwise hard-to-reach luxury-minded private buyers are expected to account for some of these, although most will go to business customers.

When it came to selecting an alternative transmission for the Exeo, Seat made an interesting choice. Instead of a conventional automatic, or the Volkswagen group's dual-clutch DSG gearbox that is available on other Seats, it has gone for a type of continuously variable transmission (CVT), branded Multitronic, that is usually found in Audis. That Audi link isn't a matter of chance, of course; the Exeo is a surprisingly appealing and effective revamp of the last-generation Audi A4, so Seat has done the obvious thing and chosen automatic gearbox technology that has always been associated with this car, and, in particular, with its slightly unusual mechanical layout, which combines front-wheel drive with a longitudinally mounted engine.

CVTs don't have a fixed number of gear ratios but instead, within a given range, constantly and infinitely alter a car's overall gearing according to conditions. The obvious theoretical advantage is that a CVT can always keep a car's engine operating in its most efficient zone, with benefits for fuel consumption and performance, although the unusual unvarying, “moaning” engine note that results can take a bit of getting used to for drivers more accustomed to conventional automatics and manuals, and tends not to appeal much to enthusiasts.

Multitronic is a CVT with a difference, though. If you select “D” in the automatic-style gear selector gate, it behaves like any other constantly variable transmission, but it is also capable of being operated in a “stepped” fashion, mimicking a seven-speed gearbox, with manual shifts available via the lever or a pair of wheel-mounted paddles; as in the case of other Porsche and VW Group automatics, regardless of the underlying technology, this “manual” mode is referred to as Tiptronic.

This means that Multitronic is able to accommodate effectively a wide range of driving styles, depending on traffic conditions or a driver's mood. Straightforward CVT mode is probably best for town driving or crawling in dense traffic, although it also works pretty well the rest of the time as well; that characteristic CVT-related moan is scarcely noticeable at motorway speeds, for example, probably because the gearbox uses the strong torque of the Exeo's refined common-rail diesel engine to keep revs down. When Multitronic is operating in stepped mode it is almost indistinguishable from a normal automatic being used in the Tiptronic setting, although its “gear changes” are rather more slurred than the very crisp shifts of DSG systems.

Seat has introduced a number of upgrades to coincide with the introduction of Multitronic, including LED rear lights and tweaks to the seating layout that free up a useful extra 44 mm of rear legroom. Otherwise the Exeo is broadly unchanged, which is generally a good thing. Working within the constraints of an existing design borrowed from Audi has meant that Seat hasn't been able to stamp its personality – think youthful, sporty and Mediterranean - on this car to the same extent as it has in the case of the smaller Ibiza and Leon. On the other hand, the Exeo is a sharper drive than the old A4, and Seat seems broadly to have maintained the high quality levels set by this car in its previous incarnation, while constantly updating its technology and equipment to keep it fresh. The Multitronic gearbox can only enhance its appeal.

John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
Jonas Gutierrez (r) competes with Yaya Toure (l)

Newcastle winger is in Argentina having chemotherapy

Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

Returning to the stage after 20 years makes actress feel 'nauseous'

peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'

Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
lifeShould we feel guilty about keeping cats inside?
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck

Man's attempt to avoid being impounded heavily criticised

Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
The Guildhall School of Music and Drama is to offer a BA degree in Performance and Creative Enterprise

Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    March On Cancer™ - Local Marketing and Promotions Volunteer

    This is an unpaid voluntary role.: Cancer Research UK: We need motivational vo...

    SEN Coordinator + Teacher

    £1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

    Maths Teacher - Evening session

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Birmingham: I am looking for a qualified experi...

    Teaching Assistants

    £50 - £85 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Rapidly developing and growing ...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week