Volkswagen isn’t accustomed to coming second. Last year, in spite of Dieselgate, it remained Europe’s biggest-selling car brand by a country mile.

The Golf and Passat dominated their classes and the Polo was within touching distance of an overall volume lead.

If the brand has a weakness, it is with niche models – and the recently unveiled Tiguan crossover and this week’s road test subject are concerted attempts to address that.

In the new Touran mid-sized MPV, VW is making a fresh assault on a market segment traditionally led on sales by Renault and Citroën with a car that uses its latest and best platform, powertrain, safety and infotainment technology.

After a long, 12-year lifespan, the original Touran has been replaced by one founded on the Volkswagen Group’s £50 billion MQB platform. This new Touran is longer and slightly wider than the previous model, but it is also much better packaged, according to company claims.

It gets seven seats as standard in the UK – and if it didn’t, the five-seat derivative would offer the biggest boot in its class.

We Brits aren’t quite treated to the full variety of the Touran engine range enjoyed by our Continental cousins, with only two petrol and three diesel powerplants on offer here.

The entry-level choice is a 108bhp 1.2-litre petrol model, after which the range is fleshed out mostly by diesels of either 1.6 or 2.0 litres with outputs ranging from 108bhp to 148bhp. At the top of the range, British buyers can choose between 148bhp 1.4-litre turbo petrol and 187bhp 2.0-litre diesel power.

So, armed with the ingredients that have kept its staple models at the top of their game, can VW trump the value, flair and originality of the Citroën Picasso and Renault Scenic with the substance, distinguishing class and all-round completeness of a true Wolfsburg great?

Top 5 MPVs

First drives

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