THE formative years for the SEAT Toledo go back to the early part of the last decade. From its launch this family hatchback with echoes of the VW Jetta, with which it shares its mechnicals, brought good value to the medium car sector.
Toledo did gain a reputation for spaciousness. Clever styling provided a big-boot and a spacious cabin which, while roomy, could also be a little on the gloomy side due to the car's high waistline. But, at the end of the day, this was a practical family vehicle for quite sensible family money.
Today's SEAT Toledo has embraced all of its predecessor's qualities and added some.
The Toledo comes with three engine options, two petrol - 1.8-litre 125bhp and the range-topping 2.3-litre V5 - plus the 1.9-litre 110bhp turbodiesel, all available with either S or SE trim level, except the V5 which gets added value such as satellite navigation, leather upsholstery, electric front seats, and the rest.
My road test car was the oil-burning Toledo SE, which comes with a generous level of standard kit including electronic climate control, remote central locking, electric windows all round, electric/heated door mirrors, trip computer and 6 CD autochanger.
Safety, too, has been well addressed with a quartet of airbags - including front passenger deactivator - a trio of three-point rear seat belts, three rear headrests, Isofix child seat mounting points plus an immobiliser and locking wheel bolts to help keep the car in your posession.
While the serviceable cabin doesn't house as many hidyholes as some of its comtemporaries, there are pockets in the front doors, a parcel tray under the dash and a very driver-friendly armrest housing a useful storage area.
While the dash itself is a little on the dull side, the dials are well laid out and easy on the eye and things brighten up considerably when the red SEAT backlighting comes into play at night.
Seat adjustment controls are simple, enabling people of all shapes and sizes to quickly reach that optimum driving position and this facilitiy is also afforded in the front passenger seat to ensure that, if, like me, you prefer a high driving position, you are not accused of talking down to your partner! The Toledo's cabin is accommodatingly roomy while the cavernous boot should cater for most people's luggage requirements.
On the tarmac, the Toledo SE responded well to the urge from the 1.9TDi engine which, while it could be quieter on tickover, soon settles down to deliver its hefty 110bhp at 4,150rpm.
Even more impressive is its telling level of torque, with 173lb ft available at 1900rpm, providing a lusty pick-up when required, the Toledo always feeling to have plenty in hand for A-road overtaking. Motorway cruising, too, is a highly enjoyable experience, surging along in fifth gear is relaxing with the added reward of some healthy mpg figures. SEAT's official data shows 54.3mpg over a combined urban and extra urban driving route.
Surprisingly, this latest Toledo has been around for four years - a long time in the fast developing world of the motor car - but it still has much to offer in the medium car segment, being adult friendly both front and rear and handling in grippy fashion to provide tidy progress whatever the conditions at tyre level..
SEAT Toledo 1.9TDi SE
Mechancial: 110bhp, 1,896cc, 4 cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 5-spd manual gearbox
Max speed: 120mph
0-62mph: 11.2 secs
Combined mpg: 54.3
Insurance group: 6
CO2 emissions: 140g/km
BiK rating: 18%
Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles; 12yrs anti-rust; 3yrs paint