I have been going around for some time now arguing that there is no such thing any more as a bad car. Skodas are desirable, most new vehicles start when you need them to, and the Lada Samara is a thing of the past. But, having driven around for a full week in the Seat Exeo, I am not so sure.
I didn't like this car at all. Not least because of its looks. There is a school of thought that when you reach a certain age, you become invisible to the opposite sex, and the Exeo is the vehicular equivalent of this. I drove it for hundreds of miles and yet I would struggle to tell you now what it looks like. If you asked a four-year-old to draw a car, it would probably look something like the Exeo. If you told someone who knew nothing about cars to buy you one, he would probably turn up with the Exeo. I thought it was the most unremarkable, most forgettable car in the world.
Unfortunately, when you get behind the wheel, there is the opposite problem: you are only too aware of what you are driving. The steering is so stiff that at the end of a trip to Wales I felt I was developing arthritis in my hands. The auto gearbox - which apparently uses 'continuously variable ratios' that mean the engine is always attempting to operate at its optimum efficiency - made the Exeo feel as if it was always in the wrong gear.
And the whole experience was capped off with the rarest of things in a car produced by a subsidiary of the all-conquering Volkswagen Group: technological niggles. The parking sensors beeped constantly when it was cold, because they were, it turned out, covered in a thin sliver of frost. The Bluetooth facility connected my smartphone to the car phone but not to the audio system. The sat nav didn't, in my test model, come with a CD in it, so I had to use something called a 'map' for the first time since 2002.
I adored the Seat Leon Cupra R I drove recently, but the best I can say for the Exeo is that it has a huge boot, offering 460 litres of space. Which, I guess, makes it the perfect car for taxi drivers. Or for murderers, who would have the advantage that not a single witness would be able to explain to Crimewatch what they were driving.
RATING: ** - 2 OUT OF 5
Seat Exeo SE Tech 2.0 TDI Multitronic
Engine 1,968 cc, four-cyl, diesel Power 141 bhp
Torque 236 lb/ft
Transmission Seven-speed auto
Fuel consumption 51.4 mpg (combined cycle)
CO2 emissions 146 g/km
0-60 mph 9.3 seconds
Top speed 129 mph