Toledo buyers can choose from naturally aspirated and turbocharged 1.2 petrol engines, a 1.4 petrol and a 1.6 diesel. We’ve tried the most powerful version of the diesel, with 103bhp, and the 1.2 turbo in 84bhp and 103bhp guises. The diesel is gutsy enough in the mid range, but it feels flat below 1500rpm. The petrol has a broader spread of power, even in its more modest state of tune, so unless you do a lot of miles, it’s the best option.
Whichever engine you choose, the Toledo combines well weighted steering with good high-speed stability and decent body control in corners. However, the steering is quite slow and the front tyres run out of grip surprisingly early, so the Toledo isn’t as agile as a Ford Focus or VW Golf. You’ll also have to live with an overly firm ride; the Toledo thumps over bumps and never really settles.
The 1.6 diesel engine sounds quite coarse and transmits vibration through the pedals at all times, whereas the 1.2 turbo petrol is pretty smooth and quiet (the lower-powered version of it is more likely to get thrashy because you need to work it harder). Some wind noise builds up around the Toledo’s door mirrors at higher speeds and you can hear the rear suspension working on poorly surfaced roads, but most of the time, the car isn’t overly noisy.
The entry-level Toledo undercuts many superminis, and while there’s a big jump in price if you step up to the next model in the range, it still sits at the more affordable end of the small family car class. Running costs are generally pretty low, too, but there are no versions that emit less than 100g/km of CO2.
There are signs of cost-cutting in the cabin because it’s built from hard plastics and the door trims scratch quite easily. However, everything at least feels reassuringly solid. The Toledo is closely related to the Skoda Rapid and built from tried and trusted parts, although Seat didn’t perform as well as Skoda in the last JD Power customer satisfaction survey.
All Toledos come with front, side and curtain airbags, plus most versions get stability control as standard. However, there’s no driver’s knee ’bag. Still, the car has received the full five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests. Like all Seats, the Toledo features a long list of security measures, including deadlocks, marked mechanical parts, an engine immobiliser and, where alloys are fitted, locking wheelnuts.
The Toledo’s dashboard is simplicity itself, and most people will be able to find a good driving position thanks to the wide range of adjustment on offer. Unfortunately, the seats are flat and short on support, so backache can set in on longer journeys. Visibility is good to the side and front, but the high bootlid restricts your view at the rear.
This is where the Toledo really impresses: not only is access to the rear seats excellent, there’s as much legroom as in the biggest small family cars, and only passengers well over six feet tall will wish they had more headroom. To cap it all, the boot is enormous – larger than those of many family cars. It’s just a pity the tailgate is heavy to shut and the rear seats don’t fold down completely flat.
The entry-level E trim is reserved for the naturally aspirated 1.2-litre petrol engine and comes poorly equipped. However, S trim – the next rung on the ladder – gives you plenty of luxuries including air-conditioning, Bluetooth, remote audio controls and front electric windows. Range-topping SE models add rear electric windows, alloy wheels, climate control, a cooled glovebox and cruise control.
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The 84bhp 1.2 petrol model is (just) strong enough, reasonably refined and offers an even more appealing price than its more potent brother. For space on a budget, this is your pick of the Toledo range.