Volkswagen isn’t accustomed to coming second. In spite of Dieselgate, it remained Europe’s biggest-selling car brand by a country mile in 2015.

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 second generation Tiguan crossover and this road test subject are concerted attempts to address that.

In the new Touran mid-sized MPV, Volkswagen 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After a long, 12-year lifespan, the original Touran has been replaced by one founded on the Volkswagen Group’s £50 billion MQB platform.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 the qurikiness of the latest Renault Grand Scenic with the substance, distinguishing class and all-round completeness of a true Wolfsburg great?

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Volkswagen Passat Alltrack 2.0 TDI 4Motion front view
    First Drive
    17 February 2017
    Latest Passat Alltrack is one of the best examples of that most inoffensive of things, the all-seasons estate
  • 2017 Hyundai i30 1.0 T-GDi 120 SE Nav front view
    First Drive
    17 February 2017
    A UK drive in the Hyundai i30 reveals a rounded and capable hatchback, but not one to challenge the class best
  • Peugeot 5008
    First Drive
    16 February 2017
    Handsome seven-seater offers a smart interior with certain key practicality benefits, but it’s a slightly mixed bag to drive.
  • Car review
    15 February 2017
    The fifth-gen Discovery is simply one of the world's most capable cars, even with the addition of a 2.0-litre engine
  • Tesla Model X
    Car review
    15 February 2017
    The electric propulsion pioneer takes aim at the seven-seat SUV market