The thing to remember about a Multi-Purpose Vehicle is that the clue is in the MPV designation. In the case of the Volkswagen Touran it means we have a mid-size seven-seat vehicle which has many practical uses, none of which include driving thrills, I’m afraid. This is the car you want when there is child wrangling to be done, family road trips to be organised or awkward items to be collected from the garden centre. Enthusiastic drivers need not apply.
It has to be said that in a sea of similar vehicles the Volkswagen Touran doesn’t really set itself apart. Certainly it is smart but also determinedly unflashy. If it was in your wardrobe it would be in the sensible shoe section. The Touran does have several things on its side though and the first of them is build quality. It feels solid and dependable, able to withstand the rigours of family car life.
The two small seats at the rear fold flush into the floor to ensure there is more than adequate boot space. It takes a just a few seconds to raise and lock them into position. At a pinch two adults could sit there for a short trip but really they are for children. Even with the third row up there is still room for the family shop at the back.
The second row will seat three comfortably and they too will fold flat individually or collectively to give an already generous boot almost cavernous qualities. The Volkswagen Touran even has five Isofix fittings for profligate child-rearers: a real plus. The boot itself has hooks, straps, cubbies and 12v power and the tested car also offered a cargo net for extra security. Under the floor is a tyre inflation kit which isn’t to everyone’s taste but serves to better utilise interior space.
The tested Touran is the SE version; one up from the base S model. It has all you need but you have to forgo climate control for more basic air-con. All the now expected technology is on board with a decent infotainment screen covering navigation, music and car controls in one easy to use set-up, augmented by steering wheel controls.
Also included are 16” alloys, a multifunction trip computer with 3.5-inch TFT display, parking sensors all round and auto lights and wipers. Perhaps most importantly, you also get a lot of extra storage compartments and fold-down tables for the rear-seat passengers. Including options this car costs £25,230 and there are cheaper alternatives on the market but that’s VW for you; they don’t do bargain basement.
Pretty much everything has been redesigned to work better than on the Mark 1 version. This means increased safety and more gadgets. The model to avoid is the entry S level which is a tad Spartan. As ever, there are various trim levels and options right up to the range-topping R-Line model.
A nice touch is the CD / SD card player hidden behind a bright panel above the glove box which helps to keep the dashboard neat and tidy. The twelve volt socket, aux plug and USB are tucked away in one of the many useful storage wells. Seats are comfortable enough for long trips and the driving position is good. The interior overall is as practical as you would expect in this class of vehicle.
There’s a good range of engines to choose from. My pick of the range is the 1.6 TDI 110 SE model as tested here. It’s a happy medium between cost, efficiency and performance and comes with either a six-speed manual gearbox or a seven-speed DSG auto.
Volkswagen’s official fuel consumption figure is 64.2mpg but I suspect you would have to be the world’s greatest hyper-miler to achieve that. To be fair though, the Volkswagen Touran as tested resolutely refused to use fuel. On test I routinely saw well over 43mpg locally and on a longer run diesel consumption rose to a heady 51.2mpg without me trying to be abstemious.
The Volkswagen Touran is not the most exciting car to look at but, for what it lacks in styling, it makes up for with its functionality. Its unique selling point is the classy-feeling interior, which is also more spacious and practical than many rivals in this class.
Although it does not really appeal to my petrol-head sensibilities, it is very comfortable to ride in, just not exciting to drive. Subtle improvements across the board over the previous iteration make the new Volkswagen Touran more impressive than ever as a family all-rounder. The sensible choice and recommended on that basis.