Growing by 130mm in its overall length and 113mm in the wheelbase compared with the first-generation version, the new Touran looks ready to address the thorniest issue of all as far as mid-sized seven-seaters are concerned: namely that, for all but children below the age of about 12 years, these cars aren’t really seven-seaters at all.

The Touran’s market sector is populated by rivals that are better described as 5+2s. Fifteen years ago, before bulky child seats became mandatory, that probably wasn’t such a huge problem for the young families who used these cars, but the same can’t be said today.

There are no issues with the head or leg room in the Touran, but the middle row requires equally proportioned passengers

And the MQB platform has allowed VW to add 63mm to the length of the Touran’s interior, leaving more room at the rear for luggage in seven-seat mode than most of its competitors are able to provide. The proof of that will come when we break out the tape measure.

Plainly, VW hasn’t been tempted to go down the ‘quirky’ route with the new Touran’s exterior design, because such things just aren’t Wolfsburg’s style. Restraint is all, even with a boxy MPV.

There is greater definition in the car’s surfacing than before, as well as more attractive detailing around the headlights and grille. The overall effect is characteristically smart and neat, albeit somewhat bland.

Although it’s longer and wider than its predecessor, the new Touran is 62kg lighter at the kerb when averaged out model for model.

It’s a conventional five-door with a large, upright hatchback rear end, and there are no funny sliding or rear-hinged back doors to report on, VW’s attitude to ‘funny’ being largely similar to its view on ‘quirky’.

Suspension is all independent, with struts at the front and multi-links at the back. Among the options is VW’s Dynamic Chassis Control adaptive damping system, but having that means choosing either a lowered ‘sports’ or raised ‘rough road’ springing option, which adjust the Touran’s ride height by 15mm either side of normal.

Our test car did without DCC. Powered by VW’s mid-range 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine, it did have a dual-clutch automatic transmission fitted in place of the standard six-speed manual gearbox. Don’t expect this DSG to be a hugely popular transmission, though.

The less torquey engines in the Touran range get an optional seven-speed DSG gearbox (with dry clutches) that is efficient enough to reduce CO2 emissions compared with the equivalent manual-equipped model.

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However, the more powerful diesels make do with this older wet-clutch six-speed DSG, which only makes the 148bhp version less tax-efficient. That’s a particular shame because, whereas some of its rivals emit less than 100g/km of CO2, the best that the Touran can muster is 111g/km. 

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