Road Test: SEAT Toledo 1.2 TSI S
Sector: Lower medium Price: £15,150 Fuel: 55.4mpg CO2: 119g/km
In SEAT terms, Toledo has always been a by-word for value. The Jetta-based first generation car was the first car to be based on a Volkswagen platform in 1990 and until the Exeo arrived in 2009 it was the flagship of the SEAT family, including the booted Altea-like model which last wore the badge.
Recent changes in the SEAT range in have changed the Toledo’s position a little, though. Previous Toledos have been based on the Leon, but with the Exeo now topping the line-up this fourth-generation car has taken a step down in size. Essentially a long-wheelbase Ibiza, it’s perhaps closer in concept to the Cordoba of old.
That this shares so much of its profile with the Škoda Rapid is no coincidence, with only sheet metal to separate the two cars. With both models sharing Škoda Roomster underpinnings, the Toledo has the same enormous boot, accessed from an equally large rear hatch, while legroom is closer to a C-segment model than its underpinnings suggest. Built quality is as high as the Škoda’s, too, but with only small cosmetic differences it’s one of the more sombre in the SEAT line-up.
The Toledo also benefits from a very simple model range, comprising two trim levels with a choice of 1.6-litre TDI and 1.2 and 1.4-litre petrol engines. The mid-spec 1.2 TSI units offer the best combination of figures, available with 85 or 103bhp with CO2 emissions of 119 and 116bhp respectively, and with the latter undercutting the equivalent diesel by £1,500.
It needn’t be a short distance car, either. If you’re not familiar with the smaller TSI engines, they’re a huge improvement on small units of old, offering a turn of performance which makes the diesel feel surprisingly sluggish by comparison. Even the lower-powered version is light, keen to rev and eager to respond at any point above 1,500rpm, while returning between 45 and 50mpg on motorway runs even without five gears. Ride quality is slightly better than the Ibiza’s, too, helped by the longer wheelbase.
The only real problem it faces is a slight lack of identity. It lacks the visual appeal of others in the SEAT range, the Ibiza and Leon particularly, but by giving it some of the brand's family styling it's also lost some of the crisp, functional simplicity of the Rapid. This is a more youthful looking car than the Škoda, which may help sway sales, but it somehow feels like a half-way house between the two brands.
At £15,110 the Toledo is only £500 less than the new Leon with a more powerful version of the same engine, and £2,500 pricier than the closest equivalent Ibiza. But while it’s gone down in size relative to the rest of the SEAT range, it’s still a source of class-above space and practicality without breaking the bank.
Good value and high on practicality, with impressive space, economy and refinement, the Toledo benefits from all the same qualities as the Škoda Rapid, offering just the bits you need at a keen price. The only shame is a little more of SEAT’s sportiness hasn’t transferred to its newcomer.