SEAT is not normally a name that springs to mind when used buyers look to update their family car. Perhaps it should be; the Spanish company's medium range Toledo has much to offer. It's well-built, roomy and the clever styling hides a huge hatchback boot, even though the car has the appearance of a mid-sized saloon. As an alternative to something like a Mondeo or Vectra/Cavalier, it makes sense.
The Toledo has never been a big seller in the UK. Even after a freshening-up in 1995 and an all-new model in 1998, the cars have continued to find less success, new, than they deserve. So while a Toledo may well be something you should consider, you may have to search a little and be patient to find the exact car you want.
The Toledo was launched onto the UK market in October 1991 with four engines and various trim levels. The base model had a 1.6-litre VW engine supplemented by 1.8, 2.0 and 1.9-litre turbo diesel engines for the higher-spec models. All cars were five-door hatchbacks, though they had the appearance of being saloons.
The only update for the original models was the introduction of side-impact bars in the doors of all cars in November 1992.
At the end of 1995, the Toledo got a minor facelift - and was all the better for it. The changes included larger, smoother bumpers, a deeper front air dam and what SEAT described as `striking` and more aerodynamic frontal treatment incorporating a new, `more imposing` front grille.
Engines remained as they were, but trim levels were simplified and upgraded. There was now only one specification for 1.6, 1.8 or 2.0-litre cars - respectively SE, ABS SE and Sport. The choice of diesels was more extensive. There was a base model D SE, followed by the TD SE, TDi SE and TDi SXE. The high performance petrol versions were called GT and GTI 16v and used engines from the Volkswagen Golf.
Changes for 1997 included twin airbags as well as central locking (most models had a remote control mechanism), a six-speaker RDS radio cassette player and an anti-theft immobiliser. By now, air conditioning was standard across the range and most versions also got the very latest anti-lock braking system as well as distinctive alloy wheels.
As with the smaller Cordoba, the Toledo range was revised with '1998 model year' changes in early Summer 1997. The main changes were the introduction of twin airbags on every model, as well as a new base-model, the 1.6 E, the mid-range 1.6 SE and the luxury 1.6 SXE. Diesel models continued unchanged but the 'hot hatch' 16v GT became the subtler 16v.
This range was replaced by an all-new Toledo model early in 1999.