SEAT Toledo 1.2 TSI

Is the lower-powered petrol engine a better fit for the SEAT Toledo? We hit the road to find out

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

The Toledo is a smart family car choice, offering lots of space, generous equipment and a surprisingly grown-up drive. The S model driven here is the second-cheapest Toledo you can buy (after the £12,495 1.2 E), but it’s certainly worth considering. If you don’t spend much time on the motorway and you’re not doing lots of miles, it’ll be just the thing.

The SEAT Toledo has been sold as a compact saloon and an awkward-looking hatch in the past, but now it’s a hatch that looks like a saloon. As always, though, its focus is on value for money and sheer space.

The Toledo sits between the smaller Ibiza and larger Leon in the range, and is a sister model to the Skoda Rapid. We praised the 1.6 diesel and 104bhp 1.2 petrol models, but does this 84bhp 1.2-litre S feel as cheap as its £14,120 price?

S trim adds body-coloured door handles, heated mirrors and a rear wiper to the entry-level E model. Our test car has 16-inch alloy wheels, which cost £275 extra, but there are no other options – what you see is what you get.

Climb into the comfortable driver’s seat and you’re greeted by a thick-rimmed steering wheel as well as a simple, yet elegant, dash layout. The S model has an upgraded audio system with USB and auxiliary ports, plus handy stereo and trip computer buttons on the steering wheel.

There are a few features you may miss – such as automatic headlights and cruise control – but it doesn’t feel spartan. The Toledo is just as practical as ever, too, with a 550-litre boot (170 litres bigger than a VW Golf’s) and enough head and legroom in the back for tall adults.

Our S model is available with a 104bhp version of the 1.2 TSI engine, but most buyers will be better off saving £1,000 and going for this 84bhp version.

It’s so smooth you’ll wonder if it’s even running when you’re stopped at traffic lights. It feels punchy off the mark, too, with little hesitation as the turbo spools up. But if you’re doing lots of motorway mileage, it could be wise to invest that £1,000 in the more powerful engine, because the 84bhp 1.2 has to be worked hard when overtaking – you find yourself planning your passing manoeuvres well in advance.

In other respects, the Toledo feels like a competent motorway car: the engine is always hushed and refinement is surprisingly good. However, it’s still not really a match for more upmarket offerings like the latest Volkswagen Golf.

It doesn’t ride as well as the VW, either, but gets pretty close. Over bumpy roads, the Toledo settles quickly and there’s not too much body roll in corners, which makes for a confident and mature driving experience.

There’s a slightly vague centre to the steering, but it’s lightly weighted and feels more natural once you’ve started turning. Combine this with strong brakes and a smooth action from the five-speed manual gearbox, and the Toledo is a doddle to drive around town.

It should be pretty cheap to run, too, with claimed fuel economy of 55.4mpg and CO2 emissions of just 119g/km.

While that’s not as efficient as the diesel, or even the more powerful petrol version (which both come fitted with a stop-start system), this car is a good deal cheaper to buy in the first place.You’ll save £2,520 by opting for it over the 1.6-litre diesel.

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