VW Touran mini-MPV
05 December 2006
|Key rival:|| Vauxhall Zafira|
The Touran mini-MPV has never been the most exciting model in Volkswagen's line-up. It's a plain family-orientated vehicle - however, a fairly impressive 7000 found homes within fleet last year.
According to VW at a press conference introducing the car's mid-life refresh, it's mostly the Touran's rational attributes that are attractive to customers.
Unless you're looking for the differences between the facelifted model and its predecessor, you won't notice them, although the Touran is more noticeable than many thanks to the adoption of the more curvy headlights similar to those fitted to VW's new Eos coupe cabriolet. They certainly lift a previously drab front end. The rear lights are different too.
Standard kit also rises slightly, with the S model getting an upgraded stereo, SE adding climatic aircon and the Sport coming with sports seats.
The interior's been pretty much left alone, save some new trim, and a quality feel remains, even if it is a little uninspiring. The full seven-seater is still standard, but the back two seats can be deleted as a no-cost option, with a full-size spare instead fitted in the gap vacated by the sixth and seventh seats.
VW expects the 105PS version of its 1.9 diesel to be the biggest seller, taking as much as 85% of volume, despite the emergence of the company's new supercharged and turbocharged 1.4-litre TSI that offers bigger engine performance but better economy and emissions.
We drove the 1.9 diesel with the standard six-speed manual gearbox, although it's also available with the highly acclaimed DSG auto. The 1.9 is noticeably noisy and, even allowing for the extra 35PS, the 2.0 diesel felt both significantly quicker and quieter than its smaller sibling. The 1.9 booms when beyond 3000rpm, but it at least provides adequate performance, though that was with two adults on board. With five and a full boot it might be another story. Despite being the engine of choice for the vast majority of buyers, the 1.9 isn't the best option if you can afford to move up to either the better 2.0 diesel, or the excellent 1.4 TSI petrol.
The Touran rides well, even when encountering potholes and rutted roads, and the body roll is well controlled, reducing the chance of small children unpleasantly revamping the interior if the road gets twisty. The car itself is somewhat underrated from a driver's point of view: while it's never going to be a sports car, the steering and gearchange are both pleasing, and it handles better than several rivals.
The Touran's still a fairly sober choice, but it's easy to see why more than 10,000 people will choose one next year.