Just two months after it was seen as a ‘prototype’ at the Madrid Motor show, Seat’s new Toledo is a production reality. The Spanish VW Group outpost claims to have created a family car with more versatility, functionality and unprecedented space in its class.

The third generation Toledo retains the essence of its predecessors, combining the notchback (sedan) styling of the current model (launched in 1998) with the rear hatch of the first Toledo (1991), but without giving up a huge boot (aka trunk).

The new Toledo will make its public debut in September at the International Automobile Salon in Paris, and will be on sale in some European markets before the end of the year and in the UK early 2005.

The Toledo is the second model of a new generation of Seats that began with the Altea minivan.

At 4.50 metres long and 1.77 metres wide, the new Toledo, built on a modified VW Golf V platform (also shared with Audi’s A3) offers more interior space than some longer vehicles thanks to its mono-volume design and its height of 1.57 metres – it also boasts a two-level luggage compartment with a 500 litre capacity.

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Bluetooth mobile phone technology will be available, operated by multi-function buttons in the steering wheel.

The standard CD can also play MP3 format CDs.

The four different engines are also shared with the Golf and A3 VW group siblings – 150 bhp (110 kW) 2.0 FSI and 102 bhp (75 kW) 1.6 petrol, and 140 bhp (103 kW) 2.0 TDI and 105 bhp (77 kW) 1.9 diesel.

The two most powerful engines – the two-litre FSI and TDI – are combined with a six-speed manual gearbox and the FSI unit will also be available with the automatic and sequential Tiptronic six-speed gearbox as an option. The 2.0 TDI will be available an optional DSG twin-clutch sequential shift automatic six-speed gearbox. These gearbox options are also shared with the A3 and Golf.

Safety equipment includes anti-lock brakes, traction and stability control systems and emergency brake assistance. Electro-mechanical power steering and the Seat-developed ‘Agile Chassis’ combined with a multi-link rear axle are claimed to give the Toledo excellent stability and driving characteristics.

All Toledo models will leave the factory equipped with six airbags, three-point seatbelts for all five seats and the Isofix system for securing child seats integrated in the back seats.

The new model is produced only in Seat’s Martorell factory where leading edge technology, such as laser welding for body assembly, is in use.