Our test car did without the optional sports suspension; it should, therefore, come as no surprise to find that this R-Line doesn’t behave much differently to its less racy-looking siblings.
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.