SEAT Toledo travelling in space
- Credit: MATT VOSPER
SEAT's new Toledo has hatched out again... in a big way. Motoring editor Andy Russell is delighted.
If you bought a car by the litre of space or centimetre of legroom there is no way SEAT's new Toledo would start a fiver short of £12,500.
For the Spanish marque's new family-sized hatchback is bigger than some family-sized cars from a class above, taking the fourth-generation Toledo back to is roots by reviving the appeal of the original model.
When first launched in 1992 the original Toledo was a huge-booted hatchback with the silhouette of a saloon but then developed the looks of a multi-purpose vehicle. And it is a measure of that first-generation model's appeal that it accounted for two-thirds of all UK Toledo sales.
It is four years since production of the previous Toledo ended so no wonder SEAT is relaunching it with the slogan The Legend Returns.
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The fourth-generation model, built in the Czech Republic alongside the Skoda Rapid, sheds earlier SEAT's round curves for sharper, stronger lines in a bolder, more angular design for a distinctive look.
What the new Toledo shares with the original is the saloon-like look which actually boasts a wide-opening tailgate giving access to a vast boot. At 550 litres the deep, flat-sided boot offers class-leading space, even more than the 528 litres of the Ford Mondeo hatchback – a large family car from the class above.
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For even more load space the rear seat backs split 60/40 and fold on to the rear seat cushions to increase capacity to 1,490 litres, again more than a Mondeo, but not totally flat and there is a step up from the boot floor.
It has not been load volume at the expense of passenger space. Given that the Toledo is in the mid-sized family car segment, and priced at the low end of it at that, there is a huge amount of leg and headroom for six-footers so it will carry four large adults comfortably, five if they squeeze up a bit in the back. It's also pretty comfortable with firm, supportive seats to take the strain out of long journeys.
You can see how SEAT has kept the cost and so the asking price of the Toledo down with hard textured plastics throughout the cabin but at least they look good and there are no squeaks or rattles.
The fascia will be familiar to anyone who had driven some of the Volkswagen Group's lower-end cars – simple and functional with big, clear white-on-black dials, chunky control stalks and user-friendly rotary knobs and buttons. Brightwork highlights around the air vents and instruments on my S trim test car took the edge off the sombre black and grey interior.
The mid-spec S model also has plenty of adjustment to get comfortable at the wheel but the high bootlid hinders rear visibility and makes reversing trickier.
The Toledo also displays a fine blend between ride and roadholding. The former is on the firm side at low speed on poor roads but feels more supple once cruising but the benefit is good body control and stability through corners making the Toledo entertaining rather than exciting.
In keeping with the Toledo's price-sensitive standing, the predominance is for petrol engines – an entry-level 75PS 1.2-litre but go for one of the excellent TSI turbo petrol units with 86 and 105PS 1.2-litre and 122PS 1.4-litre units, the latter offered only with the seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox. The only diesel is the 105PS 1.6-litre unit.
Even the 86PS 1.2 TSI performs impressively with a broad flexible spread of pulling power and the ability to mix it with fast motorway traffic, yet it regularly returned more than 50mpg.
The Toledo is offered in E, S and SE trim levels.Entry-level E, offered only with the 75PS 1.2-litre petrol engine, features front, side and curtain airbags, stability control, anti-lock brakes, front electric windows, an MP3-compatible stereo with auxiliary input and central locking. S adds air-conditioning, Bluetooth phone connection with voice control, steering wheel audio controls, height-adjustable driver's seat, split-folding rear seats, heated, electrically adjustable door mirrors and remote locking – my test car added 16in alloy wheels, worth the £275 to make it look better. SE gets alloys, front fog lights with cornering function, climate control, cruise control, rear electric windows, front and rear armrests and height-adjustable passenger seat.
The Toledo is functional, family friendly transport offering loads of space and kit at attractive prices but, more importantly, has enough quality to prevent it feeling like a budget buy.