20 August 1999


In this months Country Car,

Geoff Ashcroft has been

out and about in a Daihatsu

Terios and Seat Toledo,

Andrew Pearce and

David Cousins compare

pick-ups and Dave Brown

ponders VAT on vehicles

SEATS fortunes have taken a turn for the better since joining the VW Group. Revised styling, better engines, improved build quality, the list goes on – and the new Seat Toledo is proving to be another fine example of VW engineering.

Its also the latest group variant based on the VW Golf platform and bears an uncanny resemblance to the VWs other saloon offering, the Bora.

Looking beyond the VW fold, however, the Toledo is carving out its own image in the medium-sized saloon market. A smooth-flowing front-end curves from a carefully-sculpted bumper-headlight-bonnet combination, up through the body to meet a chunky rear-end. The latter serves up a deep boot, though the trade-off for such generous boot space is a shallow rear screen and high boot line which can hamper rearward visibility.

What is missing is additional side moulding to break the Toledos almost too-smooth appearance down each side of the vehicle.

It rides well, if not a bit too softly for some tastes and its turbo-diesel engine is one of the finest four-cylinder units on the market, pulling firmly throughout its entire rev range and not simply running out of gusto when revs approach the last 1000rpm.

Noise intrusion is noticeable from the direct-injection TD when pulling away from rest. Once moving, its no more intrusive than any other oil-burner which lacks the combustion-softening mixture of common rail technology and sophisticated electronics.

Inside, the Toledo is roomy and comfortable, and affords good, supportive seats. Far from being a hostile environment, the Toledos cabin has a superb, albeit familiar look and feel – and a quick glance at the dashboard, heater vents and switchgear reveals that the Seat production line has access to the VW parts bin. And thats definitely a bonus when build quality comes into play.

Verdict: New Toledo strikes a good compromise between style, comfort performance and economy – 110hp TDi is a keen performer. A good all rounder with unquestionable build quality. High boot-line impairs rearward visibility, though.


LESS THAN £10,000?

SUZUKIS Jimny doesnt have the micro-4×4 market all to itself. Daihatsus Terios is another delicately-proportioned 4×4 which cuts in just below the 10-grand mark.

It offers a good level of equipment for its £9995 price tag, though on road its jiggly, unsettled ride lets the vehicle down a little. Performance is gentle – 62mph on the dial takes 16.1 seconds – so this is no motorway-pounder. But the Terios is happy bumbling through towns, winding through lanes and zipping across stubble fields. Theres no low ratio box, but with permanent four-wheel drive it should tackle most sticky spots that the majority of off-roaders are ever likely to see.

Its overall size combined with low gearing and a rev-happy petrol engine give the Terios driver the impression of more progress and speed than is actually taking place. Any hope of quiet conversations with passengers once the speed passes 50mph should be abandoned – consider instead lessons in semaphore.

Getting the best from the Terios requires patience and the nerve to frequently whip all of its 82 horses. Its not a vehicle to drive in a relaxed and laid-back style.

The interior is a mix of good headroom and legroom, but with a narrow overall width, which means two burly adults occupying the front seats are likely to nudge shoulders. Seat backs lack lateral support, though rear legroom and luggage space are surprisingly generous for a vehicle of its diminutive proportions.

Verdict: Good value 4×4 and fine for bumbling to market or the local machinery dealer. Bumpy ride an acquired taste.

See more