From £22,1408
Third-gen MPV exudes characteristic Volkswagen refinements, so it's solid, upmarket, smart and practical – albeit a bit bland

What is it?

An all-new version of Volkswagen’s ultra-grown-up, medium-sized MPV, the Touran. The last Touran carved out a niche as the MPV for the sensible family man, and this new one develops the same theme. So it isn’t ‘quirky’, ‘funky’ or ‘sporty’; it’s just an MPV. But, as it happens, a particularly smart, solid and upmarket one.

The headline changes to the car for this third full model generation can be summarised pretty simply: it’s slightly bigger, lighter and pricier.

The adoption of the Volkswagen Group’s MQB platform makes the first two possible, adding the flexibility needed to stretch the wheelbase, shorten the front overhang and still take 62kg out of the car's kerb weight – despite simultaneously adding a not-inconsiderable 130mm to the overall length.

The subtle price repositioning is nothing unusual at the introduction of a new-generation car and justified by a more generous standard equipment level. Entry-level cars get a crash mitigation system, touchscreen multimedia system, DAB, Bluetooth media streaming, air conditioning, roof rails and seven seats all as standard.

The engine range for the UK market will consist of two turbocharged petrols and three turbodiesels. The former is made up of VW’s 1.2 and 1.4 TSI engines producing 108 and 148bhp respectively, the 1.4 being available with a manual or a DSG dual-clutch automatic gearbox. The latter are the familiar 1.6 and 2.0 TDIs, with peak power outputs ranging from 108 to 187bhp. Both of the lesser-powered diesels are offered in manual or DSG forms, while the 187bhp oil-burner is DSG-only.

What's it like?

The mid-spec 1.6-litre TDI SE should be the most popular version of the Touran in the UK. It’s a pragmatic, practical and classy car that’s comfy, quite refined and very easy to drive – albeit no doubt a bit bland for some tastes.

The interior is the VW’s strongest selling point. Even on a mid-range SE-spec car, the fascia looks and feels tactile and plush. On perceived quality, it's a cut above that which you’ll find in a Citroën Grand Picasso or a Vauxhall Zafira Tourer and on a level footing with a BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer.

Soft-touch plastics cover the whole of the dashboard and the tops of the doors and feel as expensive to the touch as VW’s smooth leather facings for the primary controls. It's perhaps more important that every fitting is substantial, robust and ready for the rigours of everyday family life.

Occupant space is good by the strictest like-for-like standards, although there are still more accommodating seven-seaters. The Touran and its ilk are narrower and shorter than full-sized rivals such as the Seat Alhambra, So in the second row the Touran offers good leg and headroom but its seats are a touch small for grown adults. The car’s third-row seats are usable and easier to access thanks to some bigger back door apertures – but you still wouldn’t call them adult-sized. But all five back seats have ISOFIX childseat anchorages, and while the middle three slide and fold independently, the rearmost two collapse into the boot floor easily enough. The Touran’s boot in five-seat mode, meanwhile, measures a class-leading 743 litres up to the window line, and that's big enough to beat a new Ford S-Max.

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To drive, the Touran is comfy, slick and consistent. It's also somewhat middle of the road and a bit forgettable, but that’s mostly the price of its supreme ease-of-use nature. The car rides with supple calm, steers with a directness and weight perfectly matched to its moderate grip and body control and isolates both wind and road noise well.

VW’s 1.6-litre diesel powertrain continues to feel humdrum and undernourished; it’s less refined than the 2.0 TDI and falls short of the standards of the best low-emission diesels on responsiveness and flexibility. But its outright performance levels are more than acceptable and its real-world economy easily surpassed 50mpg on our mostly urban test route.    

Should I buy one?

We can see why you would. The Touran is probably all the family MPV you really need, executed with such clear-eyed focus as to make arguments seem churlish. It’s smart, assured, relaxing, robust, full of practical features and has been turned with the kind of distinguishing attention to detail you expect of a VW.

It’s lighter, more CO2-efficient and more economical than much of its opposition, too, and has many of the premium-brand lures that BMW’s new 2 Series Gran Tourer offers but for a lower list price.

The only question is whether you’re comfortable enough about your own need for an MPV to actually become a Touran owner, because Volkswagen evidently doesn’t see the need to add much in the way of spice to an otherwise very complete recipe.

Volkswagen Touran

Price £24,000 (est);  Engine 4cyls, 1598cc, turbodiesel; Power 108bhp at 3200-4000rpm; Torque 184lb ft at 1500-3000rpm; Gearbox 6-speed dual-clutch automatic; Kerb weight 1539kg; 0-62mph 11.9sec; Top speed 116mph; Economy 64.2mpg (combined); CO2 116g/km

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graingerblaze 30 June 2015

Does what it sais on the tin!

I have owned a few Touran's now over the years, as I need a people carrier at weekends then a van during the week as all the seats come out.

My first one had the 2.0TDI lump with a manual box, great car and did 80k with no problems before I traded it in for another one. My second was the same but had 7 seats, handy as I have 3 kids and sometimes their friends.

I'm on my third now and have got the 1.6TDI with the DSG auto box, great combination and I personally love it. It's not as quick but its enough, does 50mpg and is quiet and smooth. It is a dull drive but its an MPV, I wasn't expecting sports car handling but it's perfectly fine 99% of the time.

It's Much cheaper to buy and run than a Disco or an X5 but yes very bland to look at. This new one looks good, when mine has done 80-90k I will trade in again as its a good formula and works.

Jeremy 30 June 2015

The big question ...

... for families is ... Does it have a decent spare wheel or a useless can of goo? These sort of considerations are far more important for families than how soft the dashboard feels! I'm guessing no spare wheel, which would rule it out as a potential replacement for our S-Max (whose lack of spare as let us down more than once). I would be delighted if I was wrong.
Adrian987 30 June 2015

All of a goo

Jeremy wrote:

... for families is ... Does it have a decent spare wheel or a useless can of goo? These sort of considerations are far more important for families than how soft the dashboard feels! I'm guessing no spare wheel, which would rule it out as a potential replacement for our S-Max (whose lack of spare as let us down more than once). I would be delighted if I was wrong.

Glad you raised that. Such matters can be deal breakers. They were not for us at the time of our Touran purchase, we wanted 7 seats. The option was 7 seats and a can of goo, or five and a spare (and possibly poorer resale value?). But we had more punctures in that car than all of our previous cars put together. Not good. Just bad luck, of course. Our current car has a space saver, which is comforting. Ok, I have seen those things about you are on your way quicker with goo, but Sod's law says it will be a badly damaged tyre that will not blow up with goo, then it is the breakdown service to be called out I guess which would take longer than changing a wheel.

fadyady 30 June 2015

The power of the PR

Everything that was made by Volkswagen/Skoda manages at least 4 Autocar stars so why should this be any different. Whether it has a severely underpowered and rattly engine or that it looks like a thing from the 80s should not affect the score. That's the power of the PR and that's where Volkswagen budget goes and that's why they miss the profit deadlines come the yearend.
Flatus senex 30 June 2015

fadyady wrote: Everything

fadyady wrote:

Everything that was made by Volkswagen/Skoda manages at least 4 Autocar stars so why should this be any different. Whether it has a severely underpowered and rattly engine or that it looks like a thing from the 80s should not affect the score. That's the power of the PR and that's where Volkswagen budget goes and that's why they miss the profit deadlines come the yearend.

Indeed so. This unit seems to vary greatly in quality, never being very refined and a bad one will rattle like the proverbial lavatory door! Vorsprung durch P.R.

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