30 July 2004

Seat’s style makeover continues with the new Toledo, which sticks faithfully to the looks of the Prototipo concept revealed in May. Heading for the UK in January, the Toledo is a huge step forward from the staid current model, a booted version of the Golf-sized Leon – although the new model does look remarkably like the Altea, Seat’s new midi-MPV launched earlier this month.

The main exterior change from the Madrid show car is the loss of the attention-grabbing two-tone paintwork. The funky reverse/fog light is also moved from the number plate housing, but otherwise the production car is almost identical to the concept.

Width and height – as well as looks – are shared with the Altea, although an extra 200mm goes behind the rear wheels to increase boot capacity by 91 litres to 500. There is also an unusual split-level luggage compartment.

Despite the unconventional monobox design, Seat says the new Toledo will compete in the same market as its predecessor, which was 60mm shorter, 30mm narrower and a huge 130mm lower. Officials claim that the MPV-alike Toledo will rival the Ford Focus saloon and VW Bora.

Two petrols and two diesels will be available from launch: 102bhp 1.6 and 150bhp 2.0-litre FSI petrols, and 105bhp 1.9 and the 140bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesels. Electronic safety systems including ESP stability control, anti-lock brakes with brake assist and traction control are standard.

Prices are likely to start at £13,500. The two most powerful engines will get a standard six-speed gearbox, while the much-vaunted dual-clutch DSG will be an option on the TDi.

Although the concept’s full-length panoramic glass roof and chainmail-effect carpet and door trim predictably don’t make their way over to the production car, Bluetooth mobile phone tech and an MP3-compatible audio system will be offered. Drivers can operate the telephone from the steering wheel.

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A DVD system built into the back of the front headrests should also follow shortly. Otherwise, the interior is basically carried over from the Altea.

Seat has modest ambitions for its new model, due to be unveiled at September’s Paris Motor Show, with a sales target of just 2500 in the UK as part of a planned 40,000 cars Europe-wide.

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