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After a long, 12-year lifespan, the original Touran has been replaced by one founded on the Volkswagen Group’s £50 billion MQB platform.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

  • Honda Civic
    Car review
    21 April 2017
    Honda’s 10th-generation Civic hatchback goes global — but is that good news?
  • Toyota Prius Plug-in
    First Drive
    21 April 2017
    Second-generation Toyota Prius Plug-in hybrid gets a bigger battery with new 39-mile electric range, more tech and styling updates, but it's expensive
  • Seat Ateca 1.4 EcoTSI 150 DSG
    First Drive
    20 April 2017
    Addition of DSG automatic gearbox in this top-spec model doesn't show the Ateca small SUV in its best light
  • Isuzu D-Max Blade
    First Drive
    20 April 2017
    Isuzu treats its rough-and-ready D-Max pick-up truck to a new engine, revised looks, better hauling ability and more equipment
  • MG ZS
    First Drive
    19 April 2017
    We drive MG’s upcoming Ford Ecosport rival in China-spec; good looks and a smart interior bode well for the UK version