SEAT Toledo (2012-2019)

Models Covered:

5dr hatch (1.2, 1.2 TSI, 1.4, 1.4TSI, / 1.6 TDI)

By Jonathan Crouch


If you’re a practically-minded family buyer on a supermini budget who really needs the kind of space you’d find on something much bigger, then you’re target market for this car, SEAT’s fourth generation Toledo compact hatch which sold between 2012 and 2019. With space for five, durable build quality, low running costs and an enormous boot, it offers a lot of car for the money.

The History

Think family hatchbacks are pretty much all the same? It’s not true. Ask SEAT. If you’re searching for something Golf or Astra-shaped made in the 2012-2019 era, then this Spanish brand will offer you two very different alternatives. Most will choose the company’s third generation Leon. Hi-tech and trendy, it’s a Golf in all but name but better value and with a little extra attitude. But there is another option with a SEAT badge for Focus folk – another way to go. A less trendy take on the compact family five-door genre but one that’s spacious and sensibly practical. Launched late in 2012, it’s this car, the fourth generation Toledo.

This was the kind of model the Toledo was when first we saw the MK1 version in 1991, a no-nonsense hatch with an absolutely huge boot. Back then, it was the first fully Volkswagen-engineered design the brand had ever brought us and its size, shape and packaging was subsequently even more successfully copied by another Volkswagen Group brand, Skoda, in their Octavia of 1996.

For second and third generation Toledos, SEAT unwisely deviated from this winning formula and sales were disappointing. So when the opportunity came to re-invent the MK1 Toledo design for the modern era through the simple expedient of re-badging and re-branding Skoda’s Rapid model, the Spaniards grabbed it with both hands. The result is, well, a sensible set of wheels, the kind of car the motoring mags get all sniffy about. But also the kind of car that makes eminent sense to real, recession-hit families in the current climate. This MK4 Toledo sold until 2018.

What You Get

This Toledo is pretty much identical to its Skoda Rapid design stablemate. There’s a SEAT-specific front end with its broad, angular headlamps and slender trapezoidal front grille. And a light makeover at the rear too. But these cosmetics apart, the two designs are very similar. They were even built together at Skoda’s Mlada Boleslav factory in the Czech Republic. Is that such a bad thing? We don’t believe many likely buyers will think so. A smart, clean but rather conventional shape, the Toledo’s silhouette isn’t actually very conventional by class standards, at around 4.5m long and under 2m wide being significantly longer but slightly narrower than the Focus-sized family hatchback class norm.

Raise the wide-opening tailgate and you find yourself looking at a simply enormous boot. Though the damper mounts and wheel arches intrude a little from the sides, there’s still 550-litres with all the seats in place. Those few Toledo buyers able to remember as far back as the first generation Nineties Toledo model may recall that this huge trunk space was paid for with restricted legroom for rear seat passengers. Fortunately, that mistake wasn’t made again here. The rear doors open wide for easy entry and exit and there’s comfortable knee and headroom for two, though tighter space for three adult occupants. At the wheel, well it’s more Skoda than SEAT, the design clean, functional but not particularly exciting, with many of the surfaces quite hard to the touch and things like the unlined storage bins suggestive of budget brand pricing. Still, everything is nicely laid out and seemingly built to last.

What To Look For

Most Toledo owners we came across were pretty happy, but inevitably, there were a few issues. Check for the usual parking scratches and alloy wheel scuffs. SEAT has a reputation for thin paintwork, so look out for stone chips on the body. Other issues we came across in the survey included a broken coil spring, a leaker rear window washer, ignition coil pack failure, an instance of intercooling pipework joints failing and the front fog lamps misting up. One owner reckoned he was having to replace the rubber suspension bushes at the front every 18 months too.

There have been two recalls for the Toledo, including one for child door locks that might disengage without the driver knowing. This affects cars built between 25 November 2015 and 14 April 2016. The second recall was for front seatbelt tensioners on cars built between 1 May 2016 and 31 October 2016.

On The Road

If you can operate a payphone, then you won’t have much trouble getting to grips with the clean, uncluttered controls, all-round visibility is excellent and both steering and gearshift feel direct and positive. On the subject of transmission, there are three options. Both the entry-level petrol units - the unremarkable three cylinder 75PS 1.2 12V and the more modern four cylinder 86PS 1.2 TSI - get the same five-speed manual ‘box – the one that the 90 and 105PS diesel models must have. Go for the desirable 105PS version of the petrol 1.2 TSI and you get six manual speeds and above that model, there’s the option of an auto-only 122PS 1.4 TSI petrol variant.

From this little lot, you can’t really go too far wrong, provided you don’t opt for the entry-level 75PS three-cylinder petrol 1.2. It isn’t really up to the task of moving a car of this size along and is far less economic than the four cylinder 86PS 1.2-litre TSI petrol engine that isn’t much more expensive and should really form the starting point of the line-up. Rest to 62mph here occupies 11.8s on the way to 114mph and if that’s not fast enough, opting for this engine in turbocharged 105PS form improves those figures to 10.3s and 121mph, very similar in fact to the performance return you get from the 105PS 1.6-litre diesel (10.4s and 118mph).


‘It’s all the car you need’. SEAT’s description of this fourth generation Toledo may well ring true for a large number of the older buyers and practically-minded family folk it’s aimed at. If you’re not part of that demographic and want something with a little more aesthetic and dynamic sparkle, then you may struggle to see the appeal. Even then though, it’s difficult to argue with the Spanish brand’s contention that this car delivers an awful lot for the money.