I could have replied that I had driven more cars in my life than he'd had dinners, both hot and cold, but as he was only trying to be caring, I decided to overlook the slight. And I'd have to admit that he was right. This car is indeed fast — damned fast in fact.
However, before reaching the point of actually driving it, I had to get myself belted up and this turned out to be far more difficult than you might imagine. The seat belt clasp is so tight up against the driver's seat that it's a hard job to make the connection; and, I have to say, it's a source of real frustration because, of course, it happens every time I want to drive the car.
Once on the move though, the Toledo is a delight. Smoothly through the gears, a firm hold and comfortable steering wheel means it's a pleasure to cruise through the traffic in this 2.3-litre V5. An added bonus that may seem obvious, is the crystal clear dashboard information, lights on or off. I've yet to find the clock, but I'm sure it's there somewhere.
Even though it's been quite some time since we featured the Toledo in print (Fleet News October 25, 2001), it has lost none of its charm.
The V5 package is excellent — supremely comfortable leather seats, satellite navigation with a bold, clear screen and a six-CD autochanger all come as standard fittings, together with a deceptively spacious boot.
It swallowed a week's shopping with no problem and, more importantly, did not empty the bags while en route for home.
As stated in an earlier report (Fleet News September 20, 2001), the price of £16,995 comes as quite a pleasant surprise. Like managing editor John Maslen in that earlier report, I too thought a price ticket about £18,000 would have been closer to the mark.
For the really cost-conscious driver the 1.9 TDI version offers financial benefits including group six insurance as opposed to group 13, and a massive leap in fuel consumption from 32.1mpg to 54.3mpg.
However, for the £1,500 saving in list price you lose the satellite navigation and, inevitably, performance drops.
SEAT's V5 Toledo should prove popular with drivers and only slightly less so with fleet managers; 211g/km of CO2 emissions means it will incur tax charge of 24% of its list price under the new benefit-in-kind tax system that starts in April — and that has got to be an attractive proposition for a car that accelerates from 0–60mph in 8.6 seconds and has a top speed of 140mph. A driver choosing the diesel counterpart would pay only 18% of P11D value.
The SEAT is a real treat and good value for money. And with a choice of powerful petrol or frugal diesel engines on offer it should suit most fleet drivers.