“The SEAT Toledo is a solid and practical family car that unfotunately lacks any excitement.”
The SEAT Toledo is a hatchback disguised as a saloon that ranks between the Ibiza and the Leon in SEAT's wider range. In reality, it's almost the exact same car as the Skoda Rapid – and even costs nearly the same – but is meant to be a funkier alternative than the Rapid to family favourites such as the Volkswagen Golf.
It's bigger than the Golf and much less expensive, but just doesn’t have the same quality to it and doesn’t offer any real driving thrills. That large hatch, though, is big enough to bring an extra level of practicality and allow easy transport of big and bulky items with relative ease. And low running costs and a cheap list price make the Toledo the kind of car you’re more likely to talk yourself into than buy on a passionate impulse.
The SEAT Toledo comes in three main specifications – entry-level E, mid-range S and top-of-the-range SE – with all offers impressive value for money.
MPG, running costs & CO2 emissions
The whole Toledo range – except for the entry-level 1.2-litre – is fairly inexpensive to run. The 1.6-litre TDI diesel is the bestselling engine in the car, and if you go for the Ecomotive model you can expect to see CO2 emissions of 104g/km, which just misses out on the magic tax-free 100g/km mark. The same engine also returns a claimed 72.4mpg in combined fuel economy, which should give you an estimated tank range of 890 miles. The turbocharged petrol 1.2-litre TSI, can only manage to return 55.4mpg and offers the same level of performance as the diesel – so makes little sense in the real world.
Interior & comfort
Like many aspects of the Toledo, its levels of comfort are solidly middle-of-the-road, impressing more than it disappoints but never knocking your socks off.
The nicely cushioned suspension easily irons out most big bumps and potholes found in the UK's rough roads, while the interior is insulated enough for a conversation to be possible without shouting, while driving along at 70mph. That said, there is more audible wind and road noise than you get in a lot of other family cars, but given its price it does pretty well.
The seats are comfortable and supportive enough, and there's plenty of adjustment in the driving position – including for reach-and-rake in the steering wheel. The interior is a little plain Jane, but the dashboard and controls are cleanly and logically laid out. The only real negative is when you’re travelling at slower speeds around town the suspension has difficulty settling down, which has the effect of making the Toledo feel quite jittery at times.
Practicality & boot space
The Toledo's roomy dimensions mean that it offers a pretty substantial 550 litres of boot space, which is bigger than you’ll find in Peugeot 508 SW estate and a full 200 litres more than in the standard hatchback Volkswagen Golf.
Because the hatchback boot allows for easier access to all luggage, it is more practical than it looks from the outside, and you can easily fold down the rear seats to expand the load area even more. S models up also get standard-fit split-fold rear seats, but no version folds flat, leaving an awkward load lip in the way when sliding objects in. There's loads of legroom in the back, though, with enough headroom for four tall adults to squeeze in with relative comfort.
Reliability & safety
SEAT may well be the sister brand to Skoda and Audi thanks to their all being part of the Volkswagen Group, but its reputation for reliability does not match its siblings. In the 2013 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, SEAT placed 27th out of 32 in the manufacturers rankings – hardly a ringing endorsement for the dependability of their cars. The Toledo itself didn’t qualify for the survey, but SEAT struggled to get any of its cars into the list of the top 100 cars. But this is a little odd, because a car like the Toledo is more or less the Volkswagen Polo in different clothes – much like the SEAT Ibiza – which means it will have a solid bedrock for durability that few cars have, especially as both the Polo and Ibiza have had hardly any issues with their engines or anything else.
And of course it secured the maximum five-star rating in the Euro NCAP crash safety tests, with anti-lock brakes (ABS), electronic stability control (ESP) and a host of airbags, including front, side, head and additional chest airbags all being fitted as standard. Some higher-spec models even get fog lights to help illuminate junctions and make pulling out into busy traffic that little bit easier, too.
Engines, drive & performance
Starting as it means to go on, the Toledo is a bit like a driving test – never too fast, never too slow, just resoundingly middle of the road. So, it's good around town and strong on the motorway, but no better than its main competitors.
Of the engines available, the 1.2-litre TSI petrol and the 1.6-litre TDI Ecomotive diesel are the best overall – both accelerating from 0-62mph in approximately 10.5 seconds, which proves to be more than enough performance for driving around town and just about enough for driving on the motorway.
There isn’t a huge amount of fun to be had on winding roads, though, and it's not a car you’d take out of the garage for a drive in the name of fun. However, its steering is responsive and the pedals nicely positioned, making it easy to use, predictable and safe. So a bit boring too.
Price, value for money & options
Like its running costs, the Toledo isn’t bad value for money but it's not going to knock over barriers or redefine the marketplace. You don’t get very much for your money on the entry-level S model, so you’re likely to shell out an extra couple of thousand pounds to get the kind of Toledo that you will actually be happy using every day.
But it offers enough space to still feel worthwhile, and while resale values on the used car market are still somewhat unproven, you should be able to find some good second-hand deals, even if it doesn’t hold its price as well as some of its main rivals.