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Dashboard, infotainment, sat-nav and passenger space

To occupant space first. VW claims that the new Touran has 40mm more leg room in row two and 54mm more in row three than the old one, as well as greater head room in both rows.

The second-row chairs also now slide fore and aft by 200mm. So where does that leave it?

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Set the front seat for one metre of typical driver leg room, as we always do, and the cabin measures up well. Those individually sliding second-row seats allow for up to 720mm of second-row leg room – more than a Ford S-Max, equal with a Citroën Grand C4 Picasso and narrowly beaten by a Vauxhall Zafira Tourer. Plenty, in other words.

What that leaves for the third row is less plentiful, but there is more leg room in the Touran’s case than in any of its aforementioned rivals. And although head room is generous enough for larger adults in row two, it’s still respectable in row three – bettered only by the Ford, and then by only a solitary centimetre.

You still wouldn’t ask a grown adult to travel in the Touran’s third row for very long, but you can seat one back there fairly comfortably when you need to – provided you don’t pick your lankiest passenger. The middle-row seat tilts and slides forward to make a tough access route just about tolerable.

In seven-seat mode, the Touran has a smidgen more loading length in its boot than any of its rivals. Add to that a very spacious front row with plenty of oddment storage, Isofix child seat anchorages on all five rear chairs and seating that folds down completely flat right through to the front passenger seat when carrying long loads and the picture’s complete: this is one of the most practical cars in its class and probably the most convincing attempt yet at downsizing a true seven-seater.

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The Touran’s front seats are a good size and comfortable over long distances. Although you sit about four inches higher in this car than you might in a family hatchback, a fairly upright steering wheel anda moderately reclined seating position mitigate the sense of meerkat-like vulnerability.

The instruments are conventional analogue ones sited right in front of you, and they’re easily read at a glance. Meanwhile, the cabin materials look and feel at once pleasant and robust – like they’ll withstand family life manfully and won’t show much wear.

As for standard equipment, there are five trims to choose from. Entry-level S models get 16in steel wheels, roof rails, post-collision braking system, electronic locking differential, electric windows and heated wing mirrors on the outside, while inside there is air conditioning and Volkswagen's Composition infotainment system complete with a 6.5in touchscreen display, DAB radio, Bluetooth and USB connectivity.

Upgrade to SE or SE Family and you'll find the Touran adorned with 16in alloy wheels, anondised silver roof rails, parking sensors, automatic lights and wipers, folding picnic tables and vanity mirrors, while the latter adds sat nav, VW's online services, adaptive cruise control, rear sunblinds, a panoramic sunroof and electrically-operated child locks.

Those looking for more standard equipment should consider the SEL trim which adds 17in alloy wheels, lots of chrome trim outside front foglights, tri-zone climate control, electrically folding door mirrors and smartphone integration, while the range-topping R-Line models are adorned with 18in alloys, a sporty bodykit, stainless steel pedals, and cloth and microfibre covered seats.

All of the infotainment systems are powered by Volkswagen’s second-generation MIB infotainment hardware and the one in our test car certainly seemed responsive. The Discover Media system comes with MirrorLink compatibility for a wired connection to your Apple or Android smartphone and also offers a Guide & Inform app that uses your data connection to feed you live traffic information, parking space availability in nearby multi-storeys and even local fuel prices.

The Media Control app also allows passengers in the back to have full control over the entertainment functions of the car via a tablet PC connected via wi-fi. Volkswagen’s Discover Pro infotainment system expands the central touchscreen to 8.0in and includes a DVD drive and 64GB of hard disk storage.

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