There’s no mistaking what the Volkswagen Touran was put on this planet to do. It’s essentially an oblong-shaped box that’s designed to carry up to 7 people and/or a whole lot of stuff without causing a fuss. It does all this and more, every time, without whispering ‘look at me’. Sounds simple, but in fact the Touran contains a lot of clever stuff to allow it to do so.
Sleek. Svelte. Elegant. These are three words that do not apply to the Volkswagen Touran. Not that buyers in the market for a people-carrier are bothered by such fripperies. Mention terms like practical and usable, and ears prick up. And that’s where the Touran scores heavily. It has a no-nonsense upright stance that’s been designed purely to make getting into and out of it as easy as possible.
From the simple front end and backwards, a large windscreen ensures everyone gets a good view out and tall doors allow easy access no matter how big, small or mobile you are. At the rear, the tailgate is nigh-on vertical, to make the load area as functional as possible.
All versions get alloy wheels that increase in diameter as you ascend the range, while items such as chrome strips around the windows and chrome tailpipes mark out higher-spec models.
It has a no-nonsense upright stance that’s been designed purely to make getting into and out of it as easy as possible.
What’s it like to drive?
The Volkswagen Touran is entirely untaxing to drive. There have been a few petrol engines available. The earlier 1.4-litre TSI and later 1.5 TSI are punchy performers that work well in town.
Earlier cars came with an economy-biased 1.6-litre TDI, which barely drank fuel though was in no a hurry to get anywhere. Later cars have a 2.0-litre TDI that’s much stronger and works well with its standard automatic gearbox.
All have steering that’s neither too light nor too heavy, and which makes nipping into a parking space very easy. The ride is comfortable without being wallowy, although the sports suspension does tighten up body control at the expense of comfort.
You also won’t have to shout to be heard in a Touran, no matter how quickly you’re travelling, because its engines all keep themselves to themselves and there’s little in the way of wind or road noise to disturb your day.
The Volkswagen Touran is entirely untaxing to drive.
Daily family life can be fraught at the best of times, and trying to get everyone to where they need to be at the right time can feel akin to herding cats. The last thing you need is for your car to be overly complicated to use, which is why the Volkswagen Touran has simplicity as its watchword. This means the dashboard is an upright affair with a couple of simple dials immediately ahead of the driver to tell you everything you need to know.
To the left of this cluster sits an infotainment touchscreen that’s quick to respond and features pretty high-res graphics. This controls the audio, the sat-nav (where fitted), plus various other onboard systems. In later cars, this can cater for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which is what most people will end up using most of the time.
Immediately below the screen lie the climate controls, which are operated using simple buttons and dials that you turn to vary the temperature. It works because it’s simple. Below this is a storage area with a power and USB socket. The dashboard also contains numerous other little recesses and cubbies for a family’s daily life.
Quality is great, with dense, soft-touch plastics on top of the dashboard, various other glossy plastics and trims, and even the materials used lower down in the cabin feel good to the touch. As you’d expect from a VW, everything operates with smooth, classy action.
The brief for the Volkswagen Touran has always seemed simple. It is in fact extremely difficult to achieve this level of simplicity. You see, it has to provide the space and flexibility to carry 7 people and their stuff in a footprint about the same as that of the Volkswagen Golf Estate.
How did VW go about it? Well, like architects in New York, it went upwards. So, the Touran boasts huge headroom for all occupants. This vertical space also allows for a more upright seating position, which then further allows you to cram seven seats into the space. Clever.
There’s loads of space up front, more than enough room for 3 adults in the second row, and space for a couple of average-sized adults in the third row. The middle-row seats each slide back and forward as required, too. Better still, the clever seat-folding system means putting the seats down or back up take seconds.
The boot is also a decent size, and even has a recess underneath for you to store the load bay cover. There are also numerous hooks and lashing points, and when all the seats are down the Touran does a great impression of a van.
Running costs and reliability
The older 1.4-litre turbo petrol makes a good choice for town dwellers as it’s strong and smooth like a good espresso. And it doesn’t drink much fuel. The same applies to the more modern 1.5 TSI petrol, which is even stronger and more efficient, so it can manage an average economy figure of up to 42.8mpg.
If diesel is your preference, the old 1.6 TDI has an official mpg of more than 60mpg, while the current 2.0 TDI can manage up to 52.3mpg. Insurance costs are also pretty low, with entry-level cars in group 9 and top-spec models in group 21.
What cinch loves
The Volkswagen Touran is an absolute winner as it does exactly what buyers of family MPVs need. It has more interior space than its dimensions would suggest and when you need load-carrying space instead of seats, everything folds away in the tug of a lever and the blink of an eye. Furthermore, all five rear seats are also ISOFIX-compatible, and the 5-star Euro NCAP crash test rating offer extra peace of mind.
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Town and country drivers
The best thing a car can manage is to be fit for purpose, and there’s no question that the Volkswagen Touran is a brilliant family option. It’s roomier than you’d expect, the seating system is truly clever and makes life easier, there’s plenty of standard kit to keep you safe, and it won’t cost much to run.
This review was