With four spotty teenagers and a coolbox on their way to a rock concert, wheelworldreviews editor DAVID HOOPER, gives VW’s new Touran a real world challenge.
PEOPLE carriers – you either love them or hate them, but whatever your opinion, the fact remains that a lot of families can’t do without them.
If you fit into the “must have one” category, then you could do far worse than to buy Volkswagen’s latest compact MPV, which is a huge improvement on the model it replaces.
With refinement levels now matching those of some far more costly medium-sized executive cars, I was impressed with the model I’ve been testing, in mid-range SE trim. There is also a choice of S or Sport trims.
From the outside, the car looks lower and wider than before, thanks to a restyled front end. At the back, the rear lights look superb when they are on, while the tailgate and back bumper have also had a facelift.
Inside, the driver gets a new three-spoke steering wheel to play with, the dials have been restyled to provide clearer information and the climate and entertainment equipment has been improved – in fact, the standard kit list is quite impressive. Air conditioning, alloy wheels, roof rails, a CD player, ABS, ESP and six airbags are all standard.
The new Touran features a 1.2-litre TSI petrol engine in the line-up for the first time, which develops 105PS, the same as the 1.6-litre diesel engine in the model I’ve been testing. It is one of the new breed of small capacity, high output petrol engines that are becoming popular in an effort to reduce emissions and boost economy without sacrificing too much in performance. In this case, the 1.2-litre petrol engine can return just over 44mpg, while emitting 149g/km of C02. The BlueMotion version, adds Stop/Start to the mix, boosting the economy to 47.9mpg, while cutting the emissions further, to 139g/km C02.
The diesel-engined model I tested, drove very well. I was impressed with its ride quality and refinement, and on our trip across the Woodhead Pass, it averaged almost 50mpg with six adults on board.
The Touran I came with plenty of parking sensors – and the latest park assist system, which will actually measure a parking space to see if the car will fit and steer the vehicle into the space for you. All the driver has to do is operate the pedals. It’s really strange to see the steering wheel moving all by itself, but the system works, and the few times I tried it, the car parked itself perfectly. The latest system can also manoeuvre the car into spaces at right angles to the direction of traffic, like a supermarket car park, which is brilliantly clever and can amaze geeky teenage boys.
Speaking of which . . . I have always had a bit of a problem with “people carriers” in that, they either convey people, or luggage, but rarely both. Yes, they can carry up to seven people, but as we were reminded with this car, if all seven seats are in use, there is no boot space. We couldn’t even fit a cool box behind the third row of seats and close the boot.
For my son’s birthday treat, mum and I had been press-ganged into taking four spotty teenagers to see American band Gaslight Anthem in Manchester. Fortunately, the Touran was on test, so at least we had a car we could all fit into.Volkswagen says it can seat seven adults, but how practical is that in the real world? It can, just. But it’s a tight fit, when those adults are all strapping lads pushing the 6ft barrier.
Never mind a rock concert, watching Alistair, Matthew, Jordan and William squeeze into the Touran was a performance in itself. When they had finished arguing and messing about with the seats, I found one in the back, sitting sideways because there wasn’t enough room for his long legs. The three individual middle row seats were occupied and looked quite cosy, while up front, I was perfectly comfortable. The coolbox, by the way, containing “refreshments” had to go on the seventh seat, at the back.
Despite being a bit of a squeeze for six footers, the Touran is a practical car, and if you fold the third row of seats into the floor, there is plenty of space for a pushchair and some shopping. The middle row of seats can fold and tumble to create van-like amounts of space if needed.
Practical, versatile, economical, and now better looking and more refined, the Touran makes an attractive proposition, but with new models just out from Mazda, Ford and Renault, there is plenty of choice in this sector of the market.
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THE VITAL STATISTICS
MODEL: Volkswagen Touran SE 1.6 TDI 105PS 6speed.
VW TOURAN RANGE: From S 1.2 TSI 5dr (£17,585) to Sport 2.0 TDI (170) 5dr (£25,535).
ENGINE: 1598cc, 105PS four-cylinder engine, driving front wheels through 6-speed manual gearbox.
CO2 EMISSIONS: 134g/km.
PERFORMANCE: Top speed 114mph. 0-62mph in 12.8 secs.
ECONOMY: City: 44.8mpg.
Fuel tank: 60 litres.
INSURANCE: Group 13.
WARRANTY: 3 years/60,000 miles.
• All data correct at time of publication.