SEAT Toledo

Most new car buyers' wishlist reads something like this - bargain price, cheap to run, gutsy performance and plenty of space. Impossible? Well, SEAT could have something that ticks all the boxes with its new flagship diesel Toledo.

While hatches are always the top choice in the UK's family car market, the Toledo is a good option for anyone who prefers a boot. And the SEAT now offers a superb balance between performance and economy with VW's 148bhp TDI engine. Refinement isn't great, but a low price and fine fuel economy compensate.

Most new car buyers' wishlist reads something like this - bargain price, cheap to run, gutsy performance and plenty of space. Impossible? Well, SEAT could have something that ticks all the boxes with its new flagship diesel Toledo.

Like the hatchback Leon, the four-door Toledo is now available with the 148bhp version of the VW Group's popular 1.9-litre TDI powerplant. And while it might have hot hatch performance, it is far more discreet to look at than the Cupra-badged five-door. Only available in Sport trim, the Toledo's visual modifications extend to 16-inch alloy wheels and body-coloured bumpers.

So from the outside the new model is barely distinguishable from its stablemates, but make no mistake - this SEAT is quite a Q-car. The thumping pace of the most potent TDI PD unit is nothing new - the powerplant has been used in the VW Golf since 2001 - but that doesn't make it any less startling. The 0-62mph time is 8.9 seconds, while the mid-range thrust from the torquey oil-burner is hard to beat. A maximum speed of 133mph is also in reserve.

The bad news is that the engine is starting to show its age. With a new generation of powerplants such as VW's 2.0-litre TDI shifting our diesel expectations to a much higher level, the trusty 1.9-litre unit feels rough and unsophisticated. But most buyers will forgive the rattly engine note and narrow torque band when they see how many miles they get out of a tank of fuel, even when using all of the SEAT's tyre-shredding performance. A tall sixth gear allows a combined economy figure of 52.3mpg, while CO2 emissions of 146g/km place the Toledo in the 18 per cent company car tax bracket, unlike Euro IV-compliant diesels which are eligible for the 15 per cent band.

Priced at £15,500, the Toledo Sport TDI costs £500 more than the 1.8-litre turbocharged petrol version. High-mileage drivers will soon recoup that premium in fuel savings, and both models are well equipped with ABS, ESP and climate control. Up against most rivals, SEAT's biggest model still looks like good value for money.

The perfect package? While the Toledo doesn't break new ground in any area, it does the important things well and offers a combination of strengths that many family car buyers crave.

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