Tol-tally Practical | SEAT Toledo 1.4 TSI Style

BY Marcus Lim

The most affordable European sedan on the market doesn’t disappoint

Looking at the Volkswagen Group’s portfolio, it seems a bit like the bread aisle in a mildly fancy supermarket. Whether you want to spend $12 on two croissants made with organic French butter, or $1.20 on a huge loaf of housebrand white bread, there’s something for everyone.

SEAT, in that grand scheme of things, is the housebrand bread of the Volkswagen Group. Sure, you get to pick between white, wholemeal and even multigrain; but the crux of the matter is that it offers better value and savings for the consumer — without compromising on quality.

In that way though, as the cheapest model in the SEAT model range (it’s even a good 5 large cheaper than the smaller Ibiza), the Toledo is the aforementioned $1.20-a-loaf white bread. The beauty of the Toledo though, is that it offers multigrain bread for white bread money.

Despite having similar dimensions to other Volkswagen Group models, the Toledo is based on the older tried-and-tested PQ platform rather than the MQB architecture that underpins most of the Group’s other offerings in Singapore.

Other nice multigrain bits are in its drivetrain — powering the Toledo is the familiar turbocharged 1.4-litre TSI engine producing 123 bhp and 200 Nm of torque, with its usual 7-speed DSG dual-clutch partner.

Off the line, this combination makes it a fair bit quicker than all other cars in its price range. With most of the torque available down low, there’s never much need to rev it all the way up to its 6000 rpm redline.

The TSI lump feels perfectly happy trundling along at lower revs, offering enough usable power below 4000 rpm for the majority of drivers. It doesn’t feel incredibly rewarding to wring it out either, as it starts to get a bit raspy at the top end.

No effort was taken to drive economically, but some quick math reveals that the Toledo still returned a decent 17km/l in my time with the car. If your commute involves plenty of highway driving and you’re a bit gentler with the right pedal than I am, SEAT’s claimed 20.4km/l fuel economy figure should be easily attainable.

Ask me to describe the Toledo’s interior in 3 words, and I’ll pick ‘spacious’, ‘practical’ and ‘sensible’, in that order.

Space. Thanks to the Toledo’s upright-ness, there’s plenty of space in the cabin. So much, that it’s difficult for even the lankiest of people to have a bone to pick with the car. Short of having two Yao Mings in the front, the driver and front passenger can comfortably stretch their legs out, while still leaving enough space for two rear seat passengers.

Practicality. The Toledo trumps all in this aspect, with its colossal 550-litre boot; mind you, that’s 10 litres larger than even a new Mercedes-Benz E-Class. IKEA trips are a cinch thanks to the fastback tailgate, giving you a large aperture to slot your flat-pack furniture in. Taking the Toledo shopping is easy. If you want it, just buy it, because you won’t have any issues bringing it home.

Sensibility. In line with its ‘housebrand bread’ character, the Toledo’s interior offers everything you need, and nothing you don’t. Mechanical brake assist, digital climate control, cruise control and six airbags come standard, together with SEAT’s Full Link suite of connectivity options. Interior plastics won’t make you go ‘ooooh fancy’, but they’re pleasant to touch and seem sufficiently robust for a family runabout.

Different people have different priorities for their car, but I’m sure everyone can agree when it comes to price. At just $75,999 with COE (as of April 2019), the Toledo presents itself as the most affordable European sedan on the market.

Whatever the Toledo lacks in traditional appealing traits — such as a long list of equipment you don’t really need — it makes up for with its quiet competence in various aspects, making this little SEAT a rather good buy indeed.