SEAT Toledo1.6 TDI
Engine: 1.6-litre 4-cyl turbodiesel
manual, front-wheel drive
0-62mph: 10.6 seconds
Top speed: 118mph
Equipment: Electric windows, foglights, air-conditioning, alloy wheels, USB connection.
FIRST, the SEAT Toledo had a boxy saloon shape. Then it was a controversial MPV-like hatchback based on the Altea. Now for this latest generation, it’s gone back to its roots with a three-box saloon design. It’s built on a stretched Ibiza platform, and don’t be fooled by the saloon body shape – it actually has a wide-opening hatchback boot. It’s the same trick used by sister car the Skoda Rapid (which shares the same mechanicals), and allows for easy access to a huge 550-litre boot. It would be fair to say that the SEAT and Skoda share more than a passing resemblance to one another, too.
The Toledo has SEAT’s bold grille and headlights, as well as some more shapely tail-lamps, but otherwise it’s very similar. In the flesh, it’s a little more exciting than the Skoda – but only just. The margins are even smaller in the cabin, which boasts the same impressive build quality and sensible design as the Skoda. A lot of the plastics are hard and scratchy, but that’s something you will be able to forgive, given the predicted lb12,500 starting price.
That will buy you a petrolpowered 1.2-litre model with 74bhp, but buyers can also have a 1.2 TSI engine, a 1.4 TSI or the 1.6 TDI diesel driven here. It emits only 114g/km and is capable of 64.2mpg. There’s an Ecomotive version of this engine available, too, which can manage 72.4mpg and produces 104g/km of CO2. On the road, the 1.6 TDI is smooth and mostly quiet, but when you’re accelerating hard it can sound a bit harsh. With 104bhp, it manages to sprint from 0-62mph in 10.6 seconds and, while that won’t get your heart racing, it never feels underpowered.
Despite its modest price tag, the Toledo is impressively refined, too. At 70mph, there’s only a hint of wind noise and you don’t need to shout to be heard. The low-speed ride could be a bit less jittery but, on the whole, the Toledo feels comfortable. And while the handling isn’t much fun, it’s safe and tough to criticise. That’s what this car is all about – it’s very sensible at heart. There’s more room in the rear seats than in the current Leon, and over 200 litres more boot space with the seats up (550 litres against 341). It also starts from around $4,000 less than the Leon, too. That said, a rear wiper and air-con are both options.
The new SEAT doesn’t look like the most exciting car around and it’s not thrilling to drive, either, but there’s plenty to recommend. The amount of space is at this price is matched only by the Rapid, and even that is expected to cost $500 more. Yes, the ride could be better, but the Toledo does very little else wrong. There’s more room in rear than in Leon. Alloy wheels are standard. Bargain-priced hatch offers an enticing blend of practicality, quality and value. THE Toledo is the kind of car you buy with your head, but perhaps not your heart.
The huge boot, generous amount of rear legroom and grown-up driving experience are all matched only by its Skoda Rapid sister car at this price. Luxurious and fun the Toledo is not, but if you value practicality, quality and affordability, it is a very tempting proposition. Cabin is well built, but lacks flair. The drive reflects this, too – there’s little in way of excitement. Refinement is good, though.
SEAT has tapped into what most drivers really need with the Toledo – and that’s plenty of space, good fuel economy and a low purchase price. THE VW Group hopes SEAT’s exuberant image will appeal to young buyers, but don’t expect any flair here, on either the styling or driving fronts. “The 1.6 doesn’t set your heart racing, but it never feels underpowered”.