A Toledo Triumph

This morning I came across two of these on my drive to work.  Long forgotten in my mind, once I’d recalled them as being Toledos (should that be Toledi? maybe not), I realised how good they looked in today’s traffic.

10_SEAT_Toledo_Mk3-1
Seat Toledo Mk2, source: Motoring Research. The Toledo came before the more popular Leon hatch.

The Mk2 Seat Toledo preceded the more popular Mk1 Leon hatch to market in 1998 and remained in its catalogues until 2004. Styling was attributed to Giugiaro and it does look credibly like one of his from that era. It was built on the same PQ34 platform as the Mk4 Golf/ Bora, Audi A3 and Skoda Octavia.

Everyone loves the styling of the Mk4 Golf, and I have to say I was always partial to the original Leon – it having echoes of the Alfasud –  but this is a really nice small saloon (4-door notchback, if you want to be precise) with the rear pillar blending smoothly into the rear wing and boot panel. If I could criticise it, I’d say that the rear ensemble looks a little lardy, but it’s still quite acceptable in my view. It shared much of its interior with the A3, albeit using lower quality plastics (from what I remember of the Leon). It’s not that far off being a car that could have been an Alfa Romeo, is it?

toledo mk 3 Motoring Research
Seat Toledo Mk3, source: Motoring Research. Proof that de Silva was fallible.

It was replaced by a weird looking thing also called Toledo which was effectively a Altea MPV (which I quite liked at the time) with an added hump on the back and reverse angled D-Pillar, not too dissimilar in concept to the more intriguing Renault Vel Satis. I can only think that purpose of that Mk3 Toledo was to remove any thought of the infallibility of Walter de Silva, who is accredited with its design.

There’s not much more to write, except that it seems relevant to mention it given that VW just launched its new Jetta in the US, which I also find easy on the eye in isolation, although somewhat hard to distinguish on the outside from the Passat, Audi A4 or even Skoda Superb. The dash is very nice and VW has gone to the trouble to give Jetta a fascia that is distinct from the Golf (both photos sourced from Autocar). It won’t come to the UK, which is a bit sad but not a surprise given the relatively small scale of sales over here for this kind of thing.

Author: S.V. Robinson

Life long interest in cars and the industry

15 thoughts on “A Toledo Triumph”

  1. Could these Seats have been Alfas?
    Time-wise the corresponding Alfas would have been the 147 (Leon) and 156 (Toledo).
    Looking at the sophisticated technical specification of the Alfas and comparing it with what’s on offer on the Seats, the answer surely has to be a firm “no”. These cars are worlds apart conceptually and in the driving experience they offer.
    The closest modern Alfa would be the current Giulietta with its mediocre chassis, lacklustre engines and general absence of any flair. Just that the Seats aren’t half as ugly as the Giulietta and are much better made.

  2. The Toledo Mk2 was available with a petrol 5 cylinder engine, which is quite delightful.

    I find nothing delightful about the Mk3 at all.

  3. How does the Leon fit into the picture?
    Reportedly the Toledo was styled by Giugiaro as a Skoda Octavia.
    This was rejected by Czech government (then a Skoda shareholder) as being too Italian, a perspective supported by Ferdinand Piech.
    With a new nose, the car became the Toledo. What does this make of the Leon?

    1. Hi, I’d not heard that before, but I wonder whether your point refers to the Mk1 Toledo, which I believe was also a Giugiaro accredited model and was rather more ‘brutalist’ (and, one can argue, interesting) in its look? I say that as I can see that car could very well have existed as an Octavia. The Mk2 Toledo is very clearly a Mk1 Leon with a boot – it’s just that the Toledo was launched first with the Leon hatch following quite quickly afterwards.

    2. Dave,

      the timelines do not lend substance to this rumour. By the time this Toledo was in development, Dirk van Braeckel was already busy setting up Skoda’s design studio and coming up with the shape of the Octavia I. I haven’t heard of any competition including any of the independent design studios taking place once van Braeckel had been sent to the Czech Republic.

      However, it’s entirely possible that the first-generation Toledo may have been a recycled Italdesign effort, but I doubt it was originally intended for Mlada Boleslav.

    3. I aopologise for confusing my Toledoi (Toledi? Toledes?). It was the Mk1 that was styled by ItalDesign for Skoda.

    4. That’s interesting. So they intended a saloon to complement the Favorit then? Do you know why that wasn’t put into production?

    5. Ty,

      allow me to re-phrase then: Did Skoda intend a fastback to complement the Favorit then? And if so, does anybody know why that wasn’t put into production?

  4. All Seats are the least attractive versions in the Volkswagen group – they did not look or feel as solid as their brothers without adding what Seat and its marketing guys wants to call “emocion”. This Toledo is far better than any other Toledo for sure, but that´s the most positive thing, i can say about it.

    The new Jetta looks very like a car for the chinese market of the past, not of any market of the future.

  5. That new Jetta is astonishingly poor. Just look at the rear track width or those ‘poor man’s Skoda Superb’ ridges. The Heidedesign contagion is spreading…

    I would argue that Seat have finally, eventually, unexpectedly found their place within the VAG empire recently. Looking at the very decent Leon SC, new Ibiza and even that Arona dwarf SUV, I must say I find little to object. Neither of those could be described as some kind of Iberian Alfa, but that doesn’t distract from the fact that the SC is a far more pleasing design than the Giulietta. And that both the Ibiza and Arona are fare more assured coherently styled than their counterparts from Lower Saxony.
    So although Seat still isn’t a brand to get the blood boiling, they really are more accomplished products now that they don’t try quite so desperately.

    1. That’s probably because nobody at VW really knew what to do with Seat. VW didn’t want to buy Seat in the first place, they had their arm twisted because Spanish government didn’t want its only car manufacturer to go bankrupt.
      This showed in a lack of cohesive model strategie for most of the time.

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