Sensible and good-to-drive MPV now better-looking and self-parking.

What is it?

The facelifted Touran MPV, which comes with a big range of engines and a choice of five or seven seats. And from early next year, the option of self-parking.

What's it like?

Good to drive, and now with a prettier face, restyled rump and slightly posher interior. But the real question is how's your parallel parking? Are you the sort of person who swings their car into a space in one fluid movement, or do you take repeated kerb- and bumper-bashing attempts?

Naturally everyone here at Autocar can park like a pro… But for those who can't, help is now at hand. The self-parking system – called Park Assist – is optional, but VW reckons it will cost around £450, or about half that if you pick the top-spec car with standard parking sensors.

To these sensors, it adds a couple of side-facing ones, which detect empty spaces automatically when you’re travelling under 18mph. Should you decide to park in a space you've just passed, simply press the Park Assist button.

The car then tells you if the space is large enough. If it is, the Touran's electric steering will automatically turn the wheel for you to guide you to the space. All you have to do is control the throttle, brake and clutch, stopping when the rear sensor emits an uninterrupted tone.

If the car's not correctly aligned, it will also help you straighten up. It's a strange feeling, letting something else do the steering. The system's also far from perfect – the kerb must be reasonably prominent, and Park Assist won't work on bends.

But it does work, and you could soon get used to it, especially if all of the Touran's five rear seats are filled with rowdy kids. And £450 is a lot less than two new bumpers. What's more, the system could be fitted to any VW with electric steering. Watch this space, you could say.

Should I buy one?

The Touran's not cheap, but it feels like a classy product, and we suspect it will cope well with the tough life of a family car. And if you want a self-parking car, this system works better than that on Toyota's Prius.

Rory Lumsdon

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