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Car group tests

Toyota Verso vs Volkswagen Touran

We see if the versatile Toyota Verso MPV has what it takes to beat its VW rival

It's been a tough few years for traditional MPVs. Despite their space and practicality, these sensible cars have struggled to make a sales impression against the ever-increasing waves of fashionable crossovers and SUVs.

No car highlights the struggles of the people carrier more than the Toyota Verso. The current version debuted in 2010, before receiving a thorough mid-life makeover three years later. Yet even this facelift wasn’t enough to lift its fortunes, and the Verso has now been treated to its second refresh in as many years. The update brings more kit, a revised line-up and an improved interior, and aims to inject a much-needed dose of desirability into this practical, durable and dependable car. So, has Toyota done enough to lift the Verso to the top of the class?

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Best MPVs and people carriers

To find out, we’ve put it head-to-head with another no-nonsense MPV. The Volkswagen Touran is smartly styled, solidly built and thoughtfully designed, plus it delivers composed driving dynamics and strong refinement. It’s not all change, though. While rival firms downsize their engines, Toyota has stuck with more traditional units. We sample the tried-and-tested 1.8-litre petrol here.

Head to head

Rear space

Both our contenders are only occasional seven-seaters. Access to the third row is easier in the Touran, plus there’s a fraction more space, but it’s tight. Still, like the Toyota, the two rear chairs rise in one easy movement and fold into the boot floor when not needed. The VW also benefits from a couple of handy cup-holders and a cubby.

Engines

VW has fully embraced the trend for downsizing, and its latest turbo 1.2-litre TSI delivers 175Nm of torque, which is only 5Nm less than the Verso. The Toyota’s 1.8-litre engine is only available with a CVT box. Buyers wanting a six-speed manual can opt for a 134bhp 1.6-litre petrol.

Safety

All Verso models get Toyota’s Safety Sense tech. This brings autonomous emergency braking (AEB), lane departure warning and auto high beam technology as standard. The VW is fitted with AEB, but you’ll have to pay an extra £885 for the other kit.

Verdict

First place: Volkswagen Touran

The Touran’s higher price is justified by its extra practicality. Add to that its sharper styling and more frugal running costs, and the car’s appeal is clear to see. Still, compared to the more spacious Citroen Grand C4 Picasso it feels a bit dull, while this 1.2 TSI lacks performance, looks expensive and isn’t as well equipped. If you really like how the Volkswagen drives, spend the extra on the 1.6 TDI.

Second place: Toyota Verso

Extra safety kit makes the family-friendly Verso a more tempting option than before, but despite the updates the uninspiring design and drab interior are hard to recommend over the VW. While there’s a decent level of performance, we’d still go for the 1.6 diesel manual – but even then, the lack of space and flexibility compared to the best in the class make the Toyota a hard sell.

Other options in this category

Citroen Grand C4 Picasso 1.6 THP Exclusive

Price: £24,785 Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl, 163bhp

Citroen Grand C4 Picasso - front static

The Grand C4 Picasso is our favourite seven-seat MPV, and it’s easy to see why, as the cabin is spacious and versatile. Add in a low list price, 130g/km CO2 emissions and 50mpg for the auto, and the Verso looks small and pricey. Just be aware, a facelifted version is due in September.

Kia Carens 1.6 GDi SR-7

Price: £19,295 Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl, 133bhp

If you like the appeal of the Verso’s seven seats in a relatively compact package, the Carens is worth a look. You can’t add an auto to the 1.6 petrol car, but the special-edition SR-7 has lots of kit and a seven-year warranty for a £6,155 saving over the top-spec Toyota.

Figures

 Volkswagen Touran 1.2 TSI SEToyota Verso 1.8 Icon CVT
On-the-road price/total as tested£23,660/£25,125£22,155/£22,155
Residual value (after 3yrs/30,000)£8,612/36.4%£7,643/34.5%
Depreciation£15,048£14,512
Annual tax liability std/higher rate£1,039/£2,077£1,183/£2,367
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)£1,736/£2,894£1,839/£3,064
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost11/£454/D/£11015/£498/G/£185
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service£288 (2yrs/20k)£180/£330/£180
   
Length/wheelbase4,527/2,791mm4,460/2,780mm
Height/width1,659/1,829mm1,620/1,790mm
Engine4cyl in-line/1,197cc4cyl in-line/1,798cc
Peak power 108/4,600 bhp/rpm145/6,400 bhp/rpm
Peak torque 175/1,400 Nm/rpm180/4,000 Nm/rpm
Transmission 6-spd man/fwdCVT auto/fwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel58 litres/foam60 litres/space-saver
Boot capacity (7/5/2-seat mode) 137/703/1,857 litres114/399/1,655 litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight1,436/699/1,300kg1,450/675/1,300kg
Turning circle/drag coefficient11.5 metres/N/A10.8 metres/0.29Cd
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery3yrs (60,000)/1yr5yrs (100,000)/1yr
Service intervals/UK dealersVariable (1yr)/22310,000 miles (1yr)/181
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.24th/30th*16th/2nd*
NCAP: Adult/child/ped./assist/stars88/89/71/76/5 (2015)89/75/69/86/5 (2010)
   
0-60/30-70mph11.0/10.3 secs9.7/8.8 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th 5.3/6.8 secs3.5 secs**
50-70mph in 5th/6th 10.2/12.8 secs5.3 secs**
Top speed/rpm at 70mph 117mph/2,500rpm115mph/2,500rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph 50.8/34.3/8.9m48.1/35.5/12.1m
Noise levels outside/idle/30/70mph70/52/30/72dB68/52/64/72dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range34.2/7.5/436 miles32.3/7.1/426 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined41.5/61.4/52.3mpg32.8/52.3/42.8mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined9.1/13.5/11.5mpl7.2/11.5/9.4mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket191/126g/km/22%202/153g/km/27%
   
Airbags/Isofix/park sensors/cameraSeven/yes/yes/£170Seven/yes/£400/yes
Auto gearbox/stability/cruise controlNo/yes/£230^^Yes/yes/yes
Climate control/AEB^/heated seats£445/yes/£385Yes/yes/no
Metallic paint/LED lights/keyless go£610/£1,000/£320£495/no/no
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/Bluetooth£810/yes/yes/yes£750/yes/yes/yes
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