Looks dull and it's pricey. But first VW midi-MPV hits the spot, dead centre

The medium-sized MPV market is turning into a warzone. Battle lines are being drawn between those that believe we want five seats (Renault Scenic, Ford C-Max, Citroen Picasso) and those that believe we want seven (Vauxhall Zafira, Grand Scenic).

But right from word go we've got the VW Touran available in both five and seven seat versions, the latter a £500 option that folds flat into the floor.

Despite the importance of the Touran's people carrying abilities, we can't hide our interest in the way it drives. Simple really, it's our first taste of the Golf Mk 5 platform - Audi A3 aside - on UK roads.

A few hundred yards shows it drives like no current Golf ever could. The Touran flows down the road with real poise, containing vertical body movements well and resisting roll, especially on the Sports suspension-equipped versions we were driving.

There's an excellent ride too, while a VW driver can now appreciate steering with genuine accuracy.

There's three engines available at launch but the 2.0-litre TDi tested here is the most interesting. A four valves per cylinder development of the ubiquitous 1.9 TDi, it pulls strongly, revs freely and has a substantial 236lb ft of torque on tap over a wide band.

Overall refinement is impressive, if just behind the best diesels. Some hard grafting in the emissions department means the CO2 rating falls to 162g/km and the new engine also conforms to EU4 emissions regulations, avoiding the usual three per cent company car tax surcharge for diesels.

As an MPV it's rather good too. Although you can order the car as a 5-seater, VW expects most buyers to choose the seven seat option. That will make the most sense come trade-in time and gives the full MPV practicality.

Take all the easy to remove chairs out and you have a useful 1913 litres of space, but installed they can be moved around or flipped down. What you must know is the third row is best reserved for the kids and with a third row being used luggage space drops to a paltry 121 litres.

The rest of the cabin reflects the charmless exterior. It's spacious and practical, but a little bland. It's not a total thumbs up for quality either. The bits you see and touch are high quality, but some of the more hidden areas feel cheap and look poorly assembled.

It's little things such as this that built VW's reputation for top notch build quality and they're conspicuous by their absence here. If feels no better than average.

At over £20,000 on the road, this Touran costs considerably more than many other MPVs but there's the VW to consider and it outdrives most rivals.

But while the Touran may be every midi MPV you'll ever need; it's a shame it might not be one you really want.

Adam Towler

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