Volkswagen Touran S 1.2TSI

WITH rock solid residuals since its launch in 2003 – just try finding a decent example under �6,000 – it’s obvious that some fairly unadventurous styling hasn’t hindered the Volkswagen Touran from becoming established as a firm family favourite, says NEIL GREENFIELD

And why should it? With seven seats, a wide range of engines, solid build and a cavernous boot, the Touran has always offered the versatility and branding that many people want.

Now its second revamp in seven years is in showrooms, sporting VW’s new family face as worn by the latest Polo supermini and full-size Sharan people carrier.

The fresh look comprises of new front wings, bonnet and bumper while, moving backwards, new wing mirrors, rear lights and a restyled tailgate and bumper – complete with bigger rear glass to improve rearward vision – complete the exterior updates.

The changes give the Touran a welcome lift because, inside, the alterations are far more subtle – with revisions to improve the climate control, sound system and restyled dials the main changes. But with a flexible and impressive interior since its launch, there isn’t much else to improve without busting the bank.

One obvious example too costly to change for a mid-life facelift is the middle row of three individual seats. These slid, fold and tumble but have to be completely removed to access the Touran’s maximum load capacity (1,913 litres) – unlike main rivals like the Toyota Corolla Verso and new Peugeot 5008, which both boast more advanced systems, allowing the middle row seats to fold flat to the floor.

That aside, the VW excels – and where other rivals are getting bigger and bigger, pushing the “compact” MPV tag to the very limits, the Touran retains its more manageable dimensions. Yet despite this, with its two rear seats folded into the boot floor, its class leading 600 litre plus boot is one of the highlights.

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The Touran feels reassuringly solid with good quality materials and superbly comfortable front seats – and on the move a smooth-shifting six-speed manual gearbox makes life pleasant for the driver. The VW’s multi-link rear suspension has been retained and further improved and now delivers what is a nigh on perfect performance over a typical mixture of UK roads. Tackle a typical potholed side street with a few dozen speed bumps thrown in for good measure and the new Touran simply smooths them out and gets on with its main business of transporting your loved ones about in comfort. On faster roads it’s composed and surefooted. And though the VW lacks the dynamic edge displayed by some rivals, 99 per cent of prospective owners will be more than satisfied once the ignition key is turned.

Things get better when you consider electronic stabilisation (ESP) is most standard on all versions, as are six airbags, air-con and alloy wheels. The wide range of engines continue but the highlight has to be the model tested in the �17,525 S model – a 1.2 litre TSI turbocharged unit which takes the German firm’s downsizing philosophy to new levels.

With what seems like acres of space around the diminutive engine when you pop the bonnet for a stunned look, the engine does its best to defy its small capacity with some quite impressive figures. Think 104bhp, 175Nm (129 lbs ft) of torque from just 1,550rpm to ensure quick pick-up, 0-62mph in 11.9 seconds and a top speed of 115mph. Impressive stuff. Even better is the smooth and refined way the little engine goes about its business as it comfortably returns 44mpg on the Combined cycle.

Specify your Touran with Bluemotion technology complete with low rolling resistance tyres, a stop/start system and battery regeneration for an extra �635 over the S and these figures improve further.

VWs continue to be desirable vehicles, exuding a level of quality that rivals continue to use as a benchmark.

And while other brands have had to hike up prices, Volkswagen has held its own and in some cases reduced them further. Who would of thought the entry level Touran S 1.2TSI would be �1,200 cheaper than the new Ford Grand C-Max?

It’s a strange world – but I know where I’d rather put my hard earned. Drive in a Touran anyone?


VOLKSWAGEN TOURAN S 1.2TSI - from �17,525otr