Volkswagen Touran Review
The Volkswagen Touran is a practical family car that has lots of space, seven seats and a huge array of storage areas, but it’s not exactly eye catching
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The Volkswagen Touran doesn’t look exciting at all, but the payoff for its high roofline and slab-sides are lots of interior space and huge doors for great access – making it one of the most practical family cars you can buy.
It also has seven seats, and those big rear doors mean anyone with a degree of flexibility can access the back row, which – unusually for a seven-seater – can accommodate an adult so long as they’re under six-feet tall. That means there’s plenty of room back there for kids. The middle row, meanwhile, has three individual seats that slide backwards and forwards, so adults will have no trouble getting comfortable. Both front seats are height adjustable too.
The Volkswagen Touran only has a 137-litre boot with all seven seats in place, which is barely enough space for a weekly shop – so if you need to carry seven people and their things then the larger Volkswagen Sharan will be a better bet. However, the Volkswagen Touran’s boot grows to a whopping 937 litres when the car’s in five-seater mode. Factor in the 47 separate smaller storage areas that are dotted around the interior and few cars this can size can compete with the Touran’s practicality.
You’re not going to buy a Volkswagen Touran on account of its interior style. It has none of the flamboyance of the Citroen Grand C4 Spracetourer, but it does have a straightforward layout and build quality that feels like it’ll stand up to years of use.
A lot of thought has gone into the design – simple mechanisms make the seats really ease to fold, the cup holders have a sprung grip that wraps around energy drinks as easily as they hold a can of coke, and the picnic tables on the backs of the front seats have a ratchet function that holds them in place even if you lean on them. These are the things you’ll appreciate for years to come.
The Volkswagen Touran is a safe car. It scored five stars when Euro NCAP crashed-tested it in 2015’s tough Euro NCAP conditions, but it’s worth upgrading from S to SE models and above just to get automatic emergency braking fitted as standard – it’ll reduce the chance of low-speed crashes.
The Volkswagen Touran tells people that your family takes priority over style when you’re choosing a car
The Volkswagen Touran’s 1.6-litre diesel is the best all-round engine – it’s just about quick enough and cheap to run. Go for the punchy 2.0-litre diesel if you’ll do a lot of fast motorway driving, or the cheap-to-buy 1.2-litre petrol if you’ll use your Touran mostly for short town journeys.
You’ll be surprised at how well the Volkswagen Touran drives. Although it looks like a van it doesn’t feel like one – in corners it feels like a taller VW Golf. It doesn’t lean much going around corners and the light steering makes it a doddle to park and easy to use around town.
In fact, ‘easy to use’ pretty much sums up the Volkswagen Touran. It does exactly what it says on the tin – it’s built to carry people comfortably and easily, and it doesn’t let frivolities such as sexy styling and sporty driving dynamics steer it off course from its main objective of being family friendly.
The Touran is about as practical as a car this size can be – it has room for seven and lots of storage spaces – the only downside is that the boot’s small when you’ve a full load of people
The Touran’s back-seat picnic tables lock in place so the interior doesn’t look like the aftermath of a food fight the minute you hit a bumpy road
There is loads of room on the Touran’s front and middle row of seats, and enough space for adults on the third row, where kids will be more than happy.
Every Volkswagen Touran come with a height-adjustable driver’s seat and a steering wheel that adjusts for rake and reach, so you can get comfy regardless of how tall or short you are. A front centre armrest is also standard, so you have somewhere comfortable to rest your elbow on long motorway cruises. If you want extra comfort then upgrade to an SE car or above – they come with lumbar support for both front seats and add height adjustment to the passenger seat.
SE cars and above also add extra features to the middle row, such as a recline function for all three seats, sturdy picnic tables attached to the backs of the front seats and a centre armrest. The Touran’s massive rear doors give excellent access to the middle row, so passengers should have no trouble getting in, and once seated they’ll find there’s plenty of knee room and headroom, even with a space-eating panoramic sunroof fitted.
Even if you have three passengers sat on the second row, the person on the middle seat shouldn’t feel too squashed, and there’s no hump in the floor so foot room isn’t an issue. The view out from the middle seat is decent because you can see between the two front seats.
Your passengers won’t struggle to get into the rear pair of seats because the doors open wide and the middle row easily folds out of your way. Although the rearmost seats aren’t overly spacious, adults under six foot tall should be able to get comfortable and they’ll be absolutely fine for kids.
All five of the Touran’s back seats have Isofix child-seat mounting points fitted, and you’ll find it easy to actually get seats into the car thanks to those huge rear doors and the fact that all the Isofix points are clearly marked behind plastic tabs.
The Volkswagen Touran has storage places everywhere you look. All the door bins can hold a one-litre bottle of water, there are several cup holders and you’ll find additional storage areas on top of the dashboard and in the roof. In front of the gear stick there’s a tray with an auxiliary plug and USB sockets to charge electricals. The glovebox is big enough to hold a 0.75-litre bottle of water and you also get a rubberised cubby next to the steering wheel that is a perfect place to store change without it rattling about.
SE cars and above get a larger overhead storage area and there are drawers under the front seats. If you want the ultimate family-friendly specification, though, go for the SE Family model which has electrically activated child locks, roller blinds for the middle-row windows and a system that amplifies the driver’s voice through the stereo – perfect for getting the full attention of riotous children.
The Volkswagen Touran is extremely practical when it comes to carrying passengers, but with a full load of people there’s only 137 litres left over in the boot for luggage. With all its seats in use, a Citroen Grand C4 Spacetourer has a 165-litre boot, which might not sound like a big difference but does mean you can fit a stroller or a large suitcase, neither of which will go in the VW.
You’ll fit a whole lot more in the Touran’s boot when you fold the rearmost seats away – doing so opens up a 937-litre load bay. That’s big enough to swallow two large and two small suitcases and a couple of soft bags without even having to remove the load cover.
All the VW’s seats fold away easily and neatly, revealing a total capacity of 1,875 litres – doing the same in the Citroen involves a lot more faff.
Although the Volkswagen Touran is perfectly pleasant to drive and has a good range of cheap-to-run engines, it’s never fun… but will your family care?
The Touran may look like a van but it doesn’t drive like one – it doesn’t roll around in bends so your kids won’t feel sick
The Volkswagen Touran’s choice of engines ranges from a 110hp 1.2-litre petrol up to a 190hp 2.0-litre diesel. The 190hp diesel comes as standard with a six-speed automatic gearbox, while all other models get a six-speed manual, with the option to upgrade to a seven-speed auto on all but the 1.2-litre petrol.
The best all-round engine is the 115hp 1.6-litre diesel. It offers more effortless performance than the 1.2-litre petrol and although you’d never call it quick, it’s fast enough. Fuel economy is excellent – Volkswagen claims 61.4mpg and you can expect to get 53mpg in real-world use.
Consider the 150hp diesel if you’ll do a lot of motorway miles. Its extra power makes it easier to overtake at higher speeds and it copes better with a fully loaded car than the 1.6-litre diesel. It costs about £1,500 more than the smaller engine but returns comparable fuel economy.
The 1.2-litre petrol is the engine to go for if your Volkswagen Touran will spend most of its life in the city. It’s quick enough to keep up with slow-moving street traffic and VW claims fuel economy of 51.4mpg should be possible.
The Volkswagen Touran may look like a van with extra doors and windows, but it feels like a Volkswagen Golf hatchback to drive. There’s very little lean in corners, plenty of grip, the manual gearbox is easy to operate and there’s no slack in the steering – it does everything that you want predictably, and doesn’t feel as cumbersome as a Citroen Grand C4 Spacetourer.
The standard suspension is comfortable enough, so there’s no need to specify VW’s adaptive dampers which allow you to flick between firm and soft suspension, and on the motorway the Volkswagen Touran is noticeably quieter than comparable models – ideal if you want the kids to sleep. The 1.2-litre petrol drones if you accelerate hard, but settles down at a cruise. SE Family models and above come with active cruise control, so you can set a speed limit and let the car accelerate and brake for you – it’s a really handy feature on busy motorways.
The Volkswagen Touran earned a five-star rating from Euro NCAP in 2015, so it’s a safe car. SE models and above come with automatic emergency braking that can sense an imminent collision and apply the brakes hard to avoid it. The system makes the Touran safer and will also cut the cost of your insurance.
In town, the Touran’s light controls make it easy to drive smoothly. The big windows give you a brilliant view out and should stop passengers from feeling sick. Most models can be specified with a seven-speed automatic gearbox that shifts smoothly and gives your clutch foot a rest in stop-start traffic.
The Volkswagen Touran’s interior is inoffensive looking – it’s solidly built, logically laid out and has easy-to-operate infotainment systems, but it’s all just a bit drab and boring