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.
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.