Driven: VW Touran SE 1.6-litre TDI 105 PS
By Tim Barnes-Clay
VOLKSWAGEN is the biggest German motor manufacturer and the second largest automaker on the planet. It also has three models in the top 10 list of best-selling cars of all time: the Golf, the Beetle and the Passat.
So, when it came to people carriers, the Beetle was out, and the Passat had already been used to shape the Sharan, so Volkswagen launched the Touran – a compact Multi-Purpose Vehicle (MPV) based on the Golf.
That was 10 years ago – and the idea was to plug the gap in VW’s range below the larger Sharan. A decade later the Touran is still with us, albeit in a slightly different guise.
In 2010 it was updated to the Golf MkVI platform – the original having been based on a MkV. It’s available as a five or seven seater, but seven is the most no-nonsense choice.
Appearance-wise, no MPV is ever going to be sexy, but the vertically and horizontally extended Golf – for that’s what it is, drives well. Even though the motor was revamped three years ago, its styling looks fresh – for a people carrier. If you’re an anorak, you’ll know the current model has a lower, wider look than the pre 2010 Touran. It’s also got different wing mirrors and a redesigned backside. And, under the skin, the series has an efficient range of engines, including the 1.6-litre TDI 105 PS, lent to me.
Inside, the entertainment and climate functions are, well, functional – in a characteristically German way, and the three-spoke steering wheel sits to the front of logical dials. Naturally, the MPV’s focal point is flexibility, with the ability to transport seven people, but this doesn’t mean the car behaves like a minibus.
In truth, the ride is much better than you might imagine. There’s little lean when cornering and the Touran’s insulation shuts out much of what passes you by. Everything exudes excellence, so the interior, with its air conditioning and upmarket stereo system, is an agreeable place to sit as the miles are munched.
Safety is never an issue with the Wolfsburg-based motor-maker either, so gadgets we’ve come to take for granted are, of course, fitted to the Touran. An anti-lock braking system (ABS), an Electronic Stabilisation Programme (ESP) and six airbags come as standard.
Furthermore, if you find tight parking spaces a strain, the Touran’s steering aids will help. Not only do the latest sensors require less space to perform parallel manoeuvres, they allow the VW to be shoehorned into gaps at 90 degrees to the kerb.
Three trim levels – S, SE and Sport are obtainable, and I found my SE version offered more than enough comfort, gadgetry and level-headedness – and all for a tolerable price-tag of £22,675.
So, if you have a large family, the Touran is an admirable choice. Yes, there are cheaper MPV’s, but you won’t find many with the drivability of the legendry Golf. It’s not pretty, but it’s practical – and, at the end of the day, you’ll be able to sell your Touran for a decent wedge because of one thing: ‘V’ and ‘W’. To most people these two letters stand for quality – even on a used car.
PROS ‘N’ CONS
Build quality √
Residual value √
Not the prettiest X
Max speed: 114 mph
0-62 mph: 12.8 secs
Combined mpg: 55.4
Engine: 1598 cc 16 valve 4 cylinder turbo diesel
Max. power (bhp): 103 at 4400 rpm
Max. torque (lb/ft): 185 at 1500-2500 rpm
CO2: 134 g/km
Price: £22,675 on the road