Today a vibrant component of the burgeoning Audi Volkswagen Group, the Barcelona based SEAT brand started life churning out low rent near carbon copies of outdated Fiat designs.
Image counts for a lot when selling cars and, as with sister company Skoda, great strides have been made in that direction – SEAT has moved upmarket while still offering outstanding value for money.
First though they had to get their products right and that’s what they have achieved with the current edition of their long-running Toledo.
The new model is aimed fair and square at the family market. It gives owners economical yet powerful engines, generating up to122PS, a spacious and stylish interior with quality seats and plenty of legroom all round, plus a generously size hatchback style boot, providing 550 litres of luggage space. It’s a good looker too, with its clear and precisely defined surfaces, lines and edges, broad angular headlights, distinctive rear-light clusters and wide opening doors – a big visual improvement on the previous version.
The quality that is now a part of SEAT’s design DNA shows through in the precise leather stitching on the steering wheel, the clear instrumentation and the neat switchgear.
There’s a choice between four powerful but very reliable TSI petrol engines, of from 1.2-litre to 1.4-litre displacement, and a 1.6-litre Ecomotive diesel, all have a very low emissions rating.
There’s also a choice of trim levels. At entry level this means a basic but eminently affordable car while the top of the range SE models come fully laden with such goodies as cruise control and front fog lamps with cornering function.
The version I tested was the great value £19,065 Toledo I-Tech SE 1.6 TDI Ecomotive 105 PS – what’s going on with all these long-winded names they are giving us these days?
With its punchy diesel engine, this one is good for 118-mph and will whisk you from standstill to 62-mph in a far from sluggish 10.4 seconds. Driven more sedately it can cover 70.6-mpg in the combined cycle.
Things I didn’t like? Well, nothing much except that boot, which might be a handy size but the lack of a lip on its lid makes it the devil’s own job to close because there’s nothing to grip on to. Other than that, my week at the wheel made me grow rather fond of a car that might not be very exciting but is competent in every dimension.