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What Car? says

3 out of 5 stars

For It's a handsome-looking car which is reasonably pleasant to drive. It's got a deep boot, too.

Against The cabin trim feels cheap, and high-mileage engines can give problems

Verdict It could be a shrewd, enjoyable and economical purchase, but beware of engine trouble

Go for… 1.9 TDi S

Avoid… 2.3-litre V5

Seat Toledo Saloon
  • 1. The boot has a high lip and a narrow opening, but the seats split and fold, and boot space is generous
  • 2. The cabin feels reasonably plush, although it's no match for a Golf
  • 3. If you're considering a high-mileage 1.8 petrol, then make sure the timing belt has been changed on time
  • 4. All Toledos need servicing every 10,000 miles, so if the service record looks sketchy, walk away
  • 5. There can be major glitches with electronic control units on diesel engines
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Seat Toledo Saloon full review with expert trade views

The attractive-looking Toledo arrived in 1999 using the floorpan of the Mk 4 Volkswagen Golf as its basis. It rides well, making it an easy car to live with. And, many reckon that it's a sharper-handling car than the Golf, although the faster versions, such as the 170bhp V5, don’t feel as sporting as they could.

There’s a wide range of engines, and all offer acceptable performance and refinement, but some suffer reliability problems.

Equipment is good across the range, and all but the entry-level car get steering which adjusts for both rake and reach as well as height-adjustable seats, so getting a good driving position is easy.

The cabin feels reasonably plush, although it's no match for a Golf. More than that, the four-door saloon body style restricts practicality, and the boot sits high with a narrow opening. However, the seats split and fold, and cargo space is generous.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Patchy demand only made appealing by 1.9 TDI 130 with SE spec

James Ruppert
Used car guru

We recommend the diesels. They are all 1.9 litres and come in different states of tune. The original 108bhp engine is okay, but the two sports versions, which arrived in 2003, have 138bhp and 150bhp and are much faster.

The 2002 110bhp TDI S is no performance car, but it’s a good compromise between the other diesel engines, and comes with four airbags, air-conditioning, front electric windows, anti-lock brakes and traction control.

At the pinnacle of the range sits the 2.3-litre V5. It was introduced in March 1999, with 150bhp, but from October 2000 power was upped to 170bhp.

It’s worth perusing the car supermarket lots for an even later June 2001 model, because that gets sat-nav on top of the CD player and electric leather seats of earlier models.

The 100bhp 1.6-litre petrol was discontinued in October '99. A 1.8-litre 20-valve petrol engine was introduced with 123bhp, which rose to 176bhp in turbocharged form from 2003.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Patchy demand only made appealing by 1.9 TDI 130 with SE spec

James Ruppert
Used car guru

A replacement engine is going to put a bit of a dent on your credit card, and it could well happen if the 1.8-litre petrol unit is allowed to run past 70,000 miles without having a new timing belt fitted.

Although less serious, diesel engines can eat cash having turbochargers repaired. Seat dealer rates tend to be marginally higher than most rivals, while the average repair cost is more expensive than for a VW or a Skoda.

At least insurance isn’t too much of heartache. The 1.6-litre petrol proves the least expensive, with a group 5 rating, while our favoured 1.9 TDi S is in group 7. The more sporting models can be rated as high as group 15, and it doesn’t make any difference whether you go for the diesel or the petrol.

Instead, the reason for going diesel is to get better economy; the 1.9 TDI has an official 54mpg, a far cry from the thirsty V5’s 30mpg.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Patchy demand only made appealing by 1.9 TDI 130 with SE spec

James Ruppert
Used car guru

If you're considering a high-mileage 1.8 petrol, then make sure the timing belt has been changed. If it does break, it’s not just a question of a new belt, because the whole engine gets wrecked in the process. Although no such problems afflict the V5, it’s not the easiest powerplant in the world to work on.

Diesel engines are not faultless, either. There can be major glitches with electronic control units, and the turbochargers can stick – ruining performance and economy – especially if the oil has not been regularly changed. All Toledos need servicing every 10,000 miles, so if the service record looks sketchy, draw the correct conclusions and walk away.

There are a few recall issues to address, too, including a possible fault with passenger airbags and the risk of tension cracks on the brake servo vacuum pipe. Also, bolts on the fuel pump cover are susceptible to breaking.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Patchy demand only made appealing by 1.9 TDI 130 with SE spec

James Ruppert
Used car guru
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