You know them, and somehow not. We are not talking about our own neighbours, but about cars that existed so inconspicuous that only die-hard fans still know them today. Such models were not necessarily flops, but they fell under the radar of the average car buyer.

In our regular series entitled "Do you remember?", we bring such classics and modern classic cars out of the fog of oblivion.

The 2000s were a time of unconventional design at Seat. The third generation of the Toledo was also not given an uncontroversial look. At 4.47 metres, it was barely longer than the previous model, but at 1.57 metres it was significantly higher.

Gallery: Seat Toledo III (2004-2009)

Particularly from the front, the Seat Toledo III and the Leon of those days were difficult to tell apart. Then there was the Altea, which was intended as a compact van. However, its dimensions were very close to those of the Toledo.

The Toledo owes its name to the city of the same name in central Spain. It is located around 65 kilometres south-west of the capital Madrid in the autonomous region of Castilla-La Mancha and is also the capital of the province of Toledo.

The third generation of the Toledo (5P) was based on a new trend started by Renault with the Vel Satis, Fiat with the Croma II and Opel with the Signum to give their saloons a kind of van character, which was not very successful.

Seat Tango Concept (2001)

Seat Tango Concept (2001)

Originally, the new generation of the Seat Toledo was to follow the lines of the previous generations, as it was to be based on the look of the Tango prototype, with certain features being adopted in saloon format. Due to demand and the fashionable nature of the new concept, it was finally decided to take a risk and develop the model as a combination of saloon and five-seater MPV based on the Seat Altea.

Both models were designed by Walter de Silva on the "A5" platform (PQ35) of the VW Golf V, the second generation of the Audi A3 and the Skoda Octavia as well as the Volkswagen Golf Plus and Touran vans.

In addition to the debut of this new Toledo concept, several studies of a new tailgate system called "Twin Door" were analysed. Here, the tailgate could open as a short lid or completely as a hatchback. However, the idea only went into series production in the Skoda Superb II from 2008. The Toledo was finally given a boot lid that concealed a 500-litre luggage compartment, which could be extended to 1,440 litres when the seats were folded down.

Seat Toledo III (2004-2009)
Seat Toledo III (2004-2009)

The Seat Toledo III was presented as a near-production prototype at the 2004 Madrid Motor Show, followed by the production model at the 2004 Paris Motor Show, which was launched in November of the same year.

The differences to the Altea are limited to the rear. Its rear has inverted pillars and a split rear window. The change in appearance was so radical compared to the previous Toledo that public acceptance was low. The Altea was also offered in a longer version in a more traditional format, rumoured to be an estate version of the Toledo, which in this case was called the "Altea XL" before it was launched.

The Seat Toledo III was torn between the Leon and the Altea, and its polarising design was another factor. Seat only offered the Toledo III for five years, between 2004 and 2009. The rear end in particular appeared very bulky to onlookers.

Seat Toledo III (2004-2009)
Seat Toledo III (2004-2009)

In a 2005 driving report, we wrote: "Anyone who remembers the old notchback models of the Seat Toledo will hardly recognise the new model. It is a sleek, tall family car whose shape makes it more of a van than a saloon. It's the rear end in particular that causes controversy: the panoramic windscreen from the 1950s and the stubby step in the tailgate divide opinion about the rear end."

Depending on the respective market, the Seat Toledo III's engine range started at 86 PS from a 1.4-litre displacement or a 1.6-litre with 102 PS. The diesel engines ranged from 105 to 170 PS. The most powerful Seat Toledo III was not available in Germany: it was powered by a 2.0-litre TSI with 200 PS.

Seat Toledo III (2004-2009)

With grey-on-grey tones and a plastic look for the instrument surrounds, the dashboard was not one of the prettiest, but made up for this shortcoming with good functionality.

The Toledo 2.0-litre TDI was really sporty and agile to drive in 2005. The chassis was comfortable enough to do justice to a family car and firm enough to iron out free motorway passages cleanly. Even sporty bends caused the Toledo to sway only slightly. At that time, the Seat Toledo 2.0 TDI DSG in the Stylance equipment line cost €25,090 in Germany.

In June 2008, Seat announced that its new D-segment car, which utilised the platform of the third-generation Audi A4, would be called the Seat Exeo, thereby ruling out the possibility of it becoming the Seat Bolero or the fourth-generation Toledo.

Production of the Seat Toledo III ended in September 2009, after which the Toledo took a break for three years. However, a new generation was in development and was launched on the market in October 2012. This Seat Toledo IV was largely identical in construction to the Skoda Rapid.