Road test: SEAT Toledo 1.6 TDI Ecomotive
What is it?
SEAT's version of the Skoda Rapid is a rather plain-looking saloon that is, in fact, a hatchback. It's based on a slightly longer version of the Ibiza's platform and offers a surprising amount of room in the rear. The boot is absolutely cavernous but all that practicality still doesn't take away from the fact that it all looks rather dull when parked on your driveway.
What's under the bonnet?
The version we tested featured the range-topping, 103bhp turbo diesel that does a great job of shifting the Toledo from a standstill. The unit can be noisy but when driven conservitievely, it returns a very impressive 70.6mpg. It is the engine of choice for those who cover plenty of motorway miles. There are 1.2 and 1.4 litre petrol options available but SEAT sees the diesel as the best fit for UK customers.
What's the spec like?
Not too bad really but SEAT does a very good job of making everything look rather plain and functional inside the cabin. The plastics are solid but look and feel fairly dull, the infotainment is brilliantly functional but fails to excite and the colour scheme in our test car made the cabin very dark. Cruise control, Bluetooth connection and MP3 connectivity all came as standard (and worked brilliantly well) but the satellite navigation with dynamic route guidance, 5" colour touchscreen, 3D map display, DAB radio tuner and Bluetooth audio streaming all came as a £700 option.
The Skoda Rapid is the obvious contender as it is practically the same car at an almost identical price but the Kia Cee'd also offers a very similar chassis in a slightly different skin. A 1.6 petrol Cee'd in its most basic form will cost around £2,000 less than the Toledo, too. Badge snobs can opt for the VW Jetta but expect to pay a premium for toys and exterior trinkets.
What's it like to drive?
Luckily, more entertaining than it looks. The gearbox is extremely slick and the 1.6 diesel has a satisfactory amount of grunt to get it going. It's also quiet enough at motorway cruising speeds where the engine settles and the chassis does a good job of soaking up imperfections. The same can't be said for cruising around town though, where the diesel unit seems to chunter along. The chassis is composed and the steering is well-weighted, this is never going to be a car to throw into country corners but when driven sedately, it's comfortable and economical. The Stop/Start function was a major bugbear though, as it was just so damn noisy. The engine belches into life, the chassis shakes and the tranquillity of Radio 4 is well and truly spoilt every time the lights go red.
The AOL Cars Verdict
The Toledo is not the most exciting car to look at but everything works and works well. The infotainment system is extremely easy to use, the sound system is decent and the interior offers bags of space and neat stowage solutions. Step out of the car and everything goes a little flat - certainly not the sort of Mediterranean chic you'd expect from a Spanish manufacturer – but there is nothing majorly wrong with it. If it's an average driving experience packaged inside a practical but slightly bland shell you're after, look no further.
Engine: 1.6 TDI Ecomotive
Max speed: 118mph
0-60mph: 10.4 seconds
MPG: 70.6 combined
Emissions: 106 g/km CO2