I did not do all the driving myself, swapping this duty with my partner every hour or so on each leg of the marathon. No doubt, there are drivers out there for whom a 500-plus mile round trip over 48 hours is a 'milk run'. They would not have the luxury I enjoyed of hunkering down in the passenger seat in a contorted foetal position in an attempt to get some shut-eye.
But this kind of journey taxes the mind and body of even the most experienced driver because of the distance covered and the concentration needed to remain safe on congested roads.
So it is essential to find a car that you feel comfortable with.
This Toledo is just such a car. For a start, the seats have enough height, reach and backrest angle adjustment and the steering wheel has reach and rake adjustment to find that perfect position.
It is not as roomy as expected. The front seats just don't go back far enough for someone well over six-foot tall such as myself. Otherwise, cabin comfort is assured. I felt no after-effects of the marathon drive, which is incredible considering the discomfort suffered on lesser journeys in certain other cars over the years.
Boosting the comfort is the equipment list that includes climate control, cruise control, front and rear electric windows, heated electrically-adjusted mirrors and a single CD player in the dash plus a six CD cartridge in the lockable glove box. Such creature comforts help a great deal on long haul journeys and it's a credit to SEAT that it can pile on the spec without the price inflating in proportion.
The Toledo goes head-to-head with the Volkswagen Bora 1.9 TDI PD 100bhp SE. On price the SEAT triumphs, with the VW costing £16,030.
The only edge that the Bora would have over the Toledo is its interior trim quality.
The SEAT doesn't quite match the feel of the materials used in the Volkswagen. Aside from that, we have a repetition of the classic 'VW over SEAT' battle. In a straw poll of drivers given the choice of either I reckon most would opt for Volkswagen, even though the Spanish sibling would prove to be the more attractive choice when based on value for money.
It just goes to show how much ingrained badge snobbery there is in this country.
Company car tax bill 2002 (22% taxpayer): £48 per month