SEAT Toledo

Value for money and functionality make SEAT Toledo a sensible buy.

After a gap of three years the Volkswagen group owned Spanish carmaker SEAT has delivered its fourth generation Toledo. It looks like a compact saloon but in fact it is a spacious hatchback.

Since 1991, when Toledo was launched, 917,667 Toledos have found homes. The first Toledo was built on a VW Golf platform. SEAT changed a few exterior panels and put a huge notchback-looking hatchback on too. The mark 2 came in 1998 and it was a four-door notchback. The last Toledo, the mark 3 from 2004-2009, was an ugly duckling that was meant to be a design improvement but was far from it!

Designers have changed since than and now the latest car plays it very safe by showing little hints of Audi and other VW owned product in a practical looking machine. The five-door Toledo might not make onlookers weak at the knees but it is a decent machine. Toledo is built on the VW Polo platform and again SEAT has managed to add a massive 550-litre hatchback boot to it.

Inside the cabin has all the Volkswagen switchgear we are familiar with. The dash uses some hard plastics but otherwise the build is impressive for what is a value-for-money car. There is lots of passenger space and rear legroom and headroom is impressive.

The car is a twin to the soon to be launched Skoda Rapid. Only maker’s badges, trim, equipment-levels and price will separate the machines in truth. Toledo is built alongside Rapid in Skoda’s plant in the Czech Republic. Skoda will have a harder time trying to market their version of Toledo as they already have the hugely popular Octavia with very little blue sky between them.

Toledo goes on sale on November 25th. SEAT Ireland expects the vast majority of sales to be five-speed diesels (1.6-litre/TDi). Petrol power in the main will come from various power output 1.2-litre engines (MPi/TSi) with a 122bhp 1.4-litre DSG version that is also being built.

A 105bhp TDi (€20,490) is available from launch with a 90bhp version (€19,990) coming next June that will be the big seller. On the road the 105bhp diesel performs well. It has plenty of power for motorway use and can haul a family around with little effort. The surprise engine for me was fuelled by petrol. While I liked the six-speed 105bhp 1.2-litre unit I preferred the cheaper five-speed 85bhp version. It was very eager and almost fun to drive. If you do little mileage the petrol Toledo would be my choice.

SEAT Ireland has a very modest share of the car market and it intends to invest heavily to change this. With a combination of new product and a proposed 26-28 strong dealer network, SEAT is targeting a 3.5% share of the Irish car market by the end of 2013.

SEAT with Toledo is going to tempt new customers with excellent levels of equipment and trim that will be hard to resist.
Toledo is a sensible car, at a sensible price, that suits the times we’re in.

Michael Sheridan


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