Review by it
Monday, May 16, 2016
- A practical and economical MPV
- The 1.4-litre engine is a work of art
- Comfortable seats
- The trim build quality is poor
The Touran is Volkswagen's claim to a slice of the burgeoning European compact MPV market. With the Touran they've added a missing link in the family of Volkswagen's MPVs as the expensive Sharan and the utilitarian Caravelle are playing in an entirely different niche. It's name Touran comes from a combination between Tour and Sharan. It's smaller and cheaper than its older brother but doesn't leave an impression of a small car.
Exterior and Interior
The task of the design team was to create a simple, no frills, nothing too fancy and to just create something that looks similar to the Ford C-Max or Vauxhall Zafira. The result is just what the doctor ordered, an elegant and compact MPV that's in no way worse than its direct competitors. The exterior and interior is typically Volkswagen, the car has good proportions, it fits well within the model range and what's even more important for a family car, it doesn't have anything that would provoke strong emotions (like love or hate). That's how many French MPVs have got it wrong, although the designer's work is admirable, there will inevitably be two camps, people who love their MPVs and unfortunately, people who hate them.
With the Touran it's much simpler, it's a straightforward family car that does just what is says on the tin, delivering efficiency and versatility. The exterior is made from good quality materials, but it is conservative and unpretentious. It seats 5 adults and 2 children or with removed 3rd row it provides a 1989litre boot space. It may not be as versatile as French or Japanese MPVs but overall it's a good family car.
Performance and Economy
Quite unbelievably, the best choice in the Touran's engine line-up is the smallest 1.4-litre turbo engine. Normally, a 1.4-litre midget could barely move a full-size car. The Volkswagen's take on a small displacement engine, however, is a roaring success. It features a two-level aspiration system involving a mechanical compressor and a turbo. As a result, the engine can work to its maximum potential and deliver 140bhp. This is a power output that would normally be achieved by a 2.0-litre engine. As a result, the car with a mechanical gearbox can deliver 39mpg, which is quite a remarkable result for a 7-seater.
Other options include 1.6-litre engine with less power and higher fuel-consumption, so we'll probably discount it altogether. The 2.0-litre 147bhp engine is a good power unit, yet only capable of 34mpg. It's up to you to decide if a 7bhp increase is worth losing the amazing savings that the 1.4-litre turbo model provides.
There's something for everyone and the diesel enthusiasts won't be disappointed. The 1.9-litre diesel, although moderately powered, will return 47mpg. The 2.0-litre diesel option is much livelier, but the impact on fuel economy is significant as it only delivers 41mpg.
Like to Drive
The customer looking for a compact MPV doesn't usually have performance as the number one priority on their list. However, you'll be happy to know that the Touran is pleasant to drive. Both the 1.4-litre and 2.0-litre petrol engines provide excellent acceleration and apart from the upright seating position (which is comfortable by the way) you won't notice that you're not driving a high-power sedan. Handling is superb and the clever electronic steering assist system adjusts the response depending on the speed, so it'll be very keen in a city and much harder at high speeds. The suspension is firm, yet optimised to deter the unwanted vibrations.
Faults and Repairs
The car is built on a modified Golf MkV platform so you can expect the same level of reliability. It's a modern and well-built car. The main problem with the Touran is that the craftsmanship displayed is questionable. Although good materials have been selected for the interior, the way it's been put together means that eventually some trim bits will fly off and the rattles will be inevitable. The doors and sunroof is also prone to leaks.