Drive the Touran with your nearest and dearest in the back and it’s perfectly pleasant. With it left in normal mode on VW's Drive Select system, the steering is nicely weighted, the gearshift light yet precise and the engine is flexible.
Select sport mode and you get slightly heavier steering along with a more responsive throttle pedal. The change is noticeable but is judged well enough to ensure that you can still drive it smoothly without wrestling with artificially heavy steering or a jerky response at your right foot. There is an optional adaptive damper setup although this isn’t available in conjunction with the sports suspension.
So, what happens when you start chucking it around? Well, it can be hustled along at a surprising lick; there’s plenty of grip from the lower profile tyres (at the expense of a little ride comfort) while the engine has just enough grunt to keep you bowling along briskly.
No matter how hard you try, though, you’ll never feel involved in the process of going quickly. You won’t find any feedback filtering up through the steering and it’ll only ever understeer should you push beyond its limits. A Ford S-MAX is hardly a sports car itself, but it will prove a more entertaining companion.
We should imagine it’s the Touran’s interior that will be of more interest to the overwhelming majority of buyers, though. Like the exterior, there are some R-Line touches – most noticeably stainless steel pedals, R-Line embossing for the seats and a flat-bottomed steering wheel.
Importantly, these have no effect on the usability of the car. Front and middle row passengers will find they have plenty of room, especially with the centre bench slid all the way back. Those in the very back won’t be quite so comfortable; the floor is high which makes squeezing an adult back there tricky.
Ultimately, that’s the price you pay for the Touran’s compact footprint. Should you need more room you’ll need to step up to the larger Sharan. All things considered, a couple of kids should be fairly happy in the very back, especially if the centre bench is slid forwards a few inches.
The Touran also scores by having Isofix points for five of the seven seats, plenty of cubbyholes dotted around the cabin and a touchscreen infotainment system with DAB radio, Bluetooth and sat-nav. There’s even an option that lets you link a GoPro to the infotainment screen to see what your little scamps are getting up to in the back.
Should I buy one?
If you’re in the market for a compact seven-seat MPV, the Touran should most definitely be on your shortlist. Like other variants we’ve sampled, it’s capable if unexciting to drive, has a flexible and high-quality interior and the addition of the 2.0-litre TDI engine means it'll never struggle to haul seven passengers and luggage.
Even with that in mind, we would probably look lower down the range if you are interested in a Touran. R-Line trim really is just a cosmetic garnish that has the disadvantage of costing nearly £30,000 once you've ticked the box for a diesel engine. The big wheels may also look good, but they do make the Touran a little less comfy over scarred surfaces.
Even factoring in very competitive PCP deals made possible by the Touran’s excellent residuals, we would save a few quid a month and go for an SE or SE family model. They may not be as racy to look at or as well equipped as standard, but they are a more sensible choice for a car that embodies the word sensible.
Volkswagen Touran 2.0 TDI R-Line
Location West Sussex; On sale Now; Price £29,210; Engine four cylinder, 1968cc, turbocharged, diesel; Power 148bhp at 3500-4000rpm; Torque 251lb ft at 1750-3000rpm; Gearbox six-speed manual Kerb weight 1627kg; Top speed 129mph; 0-62mph 9.3sec; Economy 62.8mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 117g/km, 23%