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SEAT Toledo review (2013 onwards)
What: SEAT Toledo (2012 onwards)
Where: Madrid - Toledo, Spain
Date: September 2012
Price: £12,500 (TBC) - £17,840
Available: January 2013
Key rivals: Skoda Rapid, Chevrolet Cruze, Hyundai i30, Kia Cee'd, MG6
The value for money is strong with this one - designed and engineered alongside the Skoda Rapid, the SEAT Toledo offers masses of room for not much cash.
We like: big cabin, big boot, inoffensive to drive, better looking than the Skoda, strong value
We don't like: rear visibility, fidgety ride, almost blood-curdlingly close to being plain boring
After an absence of three years, the SEAT Toledo is back - but if you've already got a creeping sense of déjà vu about the car pictured in the gallery above that's because you have in fact seen it before. Under the skin, the new Toledo is the exact same machine as the 2012 Skoda Rapid.
The SEAT gets a new nose and backside, in keeping with the latest Ibiza and the forthcoming Leon, and the result is sharper, more sophisticated - if only in a relative sense compared to the Skoda. It maintains the same illusion of looking like a compact saloon, while actually being a deeply practical five-door hatchback.
As with the Rapid, the Toledo is intended as a high value, pragmatic choice in the new car market, a model that complements the Spanish brand's existing range rather than replaces anything. Officially based on an extended version of the Ibiza platform, it slots in between the supermini and the Leon family hatch.
It will be priced equally aggressively - the base version is set to cost just £12,500 - generally comes well equipped and is looking to take the fight to cars like the Chevrolet Cruze, Kia Cee'd and MG6. If you're after loads of space for little money, then the Toledo could be for you.
Just don't go expecting any mechanical surprises compared to the Skoda. The two cars were developed in partnership, and feature the exact same engine line-up. We're told not even the suspension or steering settings are different.
Buyers will likely split the pair based on brand preference, the way they look or - given the kinds of no-nonsense customer we're talking about here - the geographical vicinity of the dealerships.
Anyway, to recap the engine choices from the Skoda, petrol options span from a 75hp 1.2 to a 122hp 1.4 TSI turbo DSG automatic, with a pair of 1.2 TSI turbos in the middle offering 85hp or 105hp. The only diesel is a 1.6 TDI, available in 90hp and 105hp states of tune. We tried the 105hp variants of both fuels.
As such, like the Rapid, the Toledo is refined at speed and rarely leaves you desperately wanting for performance, even if it will also never leave you breathless. The five-speed diesel would benefit from a sixth gear ratio, and while the petrol requires more effort, stirring its full compliment of cogs is more fun.
Ride and handling
Fun, like style, is a relative term when it comes to the Toledo. Though SEAT has built a perfectly competent car - more than that even - you won't be itching to take this bad boy on any midnight runs. Steering that weights up nicely as you turn means you do feel connected to the front wheels, but no more than that.
As if underlining this, the prescribed launch driving routes focused exclusively on lengthy dual carriageway excursions, occasionally troubled by gently sweeping bends. Since these weren't telling us very much we resorted to Top Gunning deserted roundabouts - the SEAT shrugging this off with more of a yawn than a flourish.
Less weight over the front wheels means the little petrol is happier with such fast direction changes than the diesel, which quickly starts working its springs and dampers with a rolling motion that encourages restraint. But neither was ever in danger of being anything other than doggedly safe. Fair enough.
The Rapid's ride quality disappointed when we tested it in bumpy Slovakia; by contrast, Spain's roads are generally very smooth, flattering the Toledo. Even this couldn't hide the car's slight fidgetiness at higher speeds, though, and the UK's surfaces will prove a tougher challenge. Expect it to be a bit bouncy as a result.
If space is a priority, however, you probably won't care if the ride comfort isn't first class - the Toledo's interior is massively roomy. For example, there's more rear legroom here than in the current Leon (it'll probably best the new one as well), and the 550-litre boot is truly enormous.
To the extent that it actually offers more volume than the latest Ford Focus estate (476 litres) and the Vauxhall Insignia saloon (530 litres), to name but two. The rear seats fold to expand this further - SEAT hasn't put a figure on the result but judging by the Rapid it'll stow 1,490 litres.
If the physical differences between the two are limited on the outside, it takes only a quick glance over the cabin to see they're virtually non-existent on the inside. The only ones we've spotted are the door handles and the dials - though both brands have their own type of upholstery.
This means the Toledo misses out on the Rapid's potentially handy seat-side pockets, but does get the option of a beige finish to areas of the dash. Lovely. Overall, the interior seems more Skoda than SEAT - though to our mind that's no bad thing. Plastics are solid, but not soft touch. Nothing creaks or rattles.
There are three trim levels - though the entry-level E grade is only offered with the basic non-turbo 1.2-litre petrol, and is sparsely equipped to achieve that projected £12.5k price. To step up to the next rung you'll need to find £14,120, but for that you also get a turbocharger.
Most buyers are expected to opt for S or SE, with air conditioning and Bluetooth standard highlights on the former; the latter adds alloys, climate, cruise and rear electric windows. Touchscreen sat-nav with DAB digital radio is optional on the SE only.
The only thing that really mars the experience from inside the Toledo is the rear visibility. The back window is tiny, thanks to the car's high haunches and thick rear pillars. Parking sensors may be advisable.
Economy and safety
Although the Toledo lacks the very latest safety gadgets - such as automatic urban braking technology - Electronic Stability Control and six airbags are standard on all models. There's no Euro NCAP crash test results yet, but we'd bank on four stars at the very least.
Almost every model in the range emits less than 120g/km CO2 (the only exceptions are the 75hp and 122hp petrols), while Ecomotive versions of the 105hp engines include stop-start to reduce fuel consumption; this brings the diesel down as low as 104g/km - with official economy of 72.4mpg.
The MSN Cars verdict
We aren't talking about a must buy kind of car here - SEAT fully acknowledges it expects to sell just one Toledo for every five new Leons in the UK. Yet there really is very little you can fault about the job that's been done.
The shape takes to SEAT's design language more naturally than Skoda's, and if it's never going to thrill you it is none-the-less perfectly pleasant to drive. But as with the Rapid, it's the space and practicality you get for the money that's likely to sell the Toledo. And we can't really argue with that.
Need to know
Engines, petrol: 75hp 1.2, 85hp 1.2 TSI, 105hp 1.2 TSI, 122hp 1.4 TSI
Engines, diesel: 90hp 1.6, 105hp 1.6
Power, hp: 75 - 105
Torque, lb ft: 82 - 184
0-62mph, secs: 9.5 - 13.9
Top speed, mph: 109 - 128
Mpg, combined: 45.6 - 72.4
CO2g/km / Tax: 104 - 146 / 14% - 20%
Specific model rated: SEAT Toledo SE 1.2 TSI 105
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