Today I can check off another item on the “List of things to do in my life™”. I have test drived a new launched car – the new Seat Toledo. I’m not gonna bother quoting excerpts from official reviews – you can find a very comprehensive one in the Parker review for the UK market. I think it was not launched there yet, as the pictures in that review are all of the normal left-hand drive at this moment.
I have booked my test drive a couple of weeks ago, when I receive a promotional email in my inbox (I have participated to a raffle related to the new launch). It’s obvious I did not win the raffle, or the post name would have been totally different. Anyway, I was invited to test drive the new car when the promotional caravan reached the city I currently live in – Sabadell (30 km away from Barcelona), at 9:00 AM.
I was at the local concessionary bright and early, 20 minutes before the announced time and found only peace and quiet. As the moments passed by, without any sign of movement inside the showroom, I thought that perhaps there is another location for the event and I was not aware of it. Or that the normal schedule was from 10:00 AM (as written on the door) and nobody bothered to synchronize the scheduling application with the concessionary time table. I moved round the corner to the entrance to the service area and at 9:02 I was greeted by the view of the caravan: 6-7 cars, with the model name inscribed in broad letters on the side. There was a black one, a dark red one, while the rest were a few shades of grey (not 50 though …).
It took a while for everything to be set up. One car was parked outside, with banners around, a couple were pulled inside a secondary showroom. Meanwhile, somebody who appeared to be the “caravan master” offered me a coffee and some sweets while I was waiting for the test drive to start. I only took one picture of the entire setup (the one below) and it would have looked a lot better if they would have used the dark red car instead of one of the grey ones.
We got all the papers done quickly and started for the chosen car, a grey 1.6 diesel, with 105 bhp, in the top configuration (Style), with a nice cream interior finish and manual gearbox with 5 steps. I was given first a quick tour of the car – the boot/trunk, the folding back seats. I was also invited to sit on the back seat, behind the driver, with the front seat pushed all the way back, to understand that there is enough place for another person there at all times. Then I jumped into the driver’s seat and got through the preparations. I took no more pictures, but I’m adding one from the catalogue:
This image shows the extra option of integrated navigation, which gives a larger central screen, with touch controls.
Because the SEAT official coming with me was in the area for the first time, I was given the freedom of choosing the route and I decided to go two roundabouts away from my office, thus reenacting my normal daily run to work and back home. Of course I appreciated the lack of normal morning traffic jam, that allowed me to push effortlessly to the speed limit of 120 km/h.
Overall the experience was great. The Toledo is a great car and the engine had more than enough power for my normal driving style. I can’t say I disliked something in particular – the ride was relatively short (about 25 km), I did not have to do any special maneuvers (like parking) and the traffic was light enough for a pleasant journey. I am not a great fan of the exterior grey color and the cream interior, although very pleasant visually, stains easily and might require a lot of attention in the long run to remain clean.
I also loved the little details: like the audio controls on the steering wheel, the USB and AUX entries for the audio system, the quality of the sound system, the lack of road noise (both from traffic and from the engine, although I did not rev it too much), the small indicator on the dashboard prompting you to choose the best gear for optimal fuel consumption. I did not appreciate the lightness of the controls (pedals, steering wheel and gear change) until later, when I returned to my 13 years old car.
I can’t say I would buy one, even if I had the money – being the first new car I drove would would require some more tests with its rivals. If I would have one for a week to put through its paces it would be enough to make an opinion But I did enjoy driving it and I would love to be given the occasion again.
Credits: The instagram picture is mine. The rest of the images are from Seat.es and Parkers.co.uk