Volkswagen Touran

Meet the VW Touran that’s giving a new meaning to the term ‘hands-free’

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

The changes are only minor, but the Touran is still a capable family car. It’s great to drive and has numerous seating configurations, providing outstanding versatility. The big news is the Park Assist option; at around £500, it’s not cheap, but it’s very convenient. If reversing into tight gaps isn’t your forte, the set-up will soon pay for itself – as there will be no more dented bumpers!

In a world first, the revised compact MPV is debuting the sort of technology you might expect to find on a luxury car costing three times as much.

As well as some minor updates to the looks – the most obvious being a Passat-style family grille – every new Touran will be offered with a very special optional extra. Called Park Assist, the amazing technology can scan an empty bay, then move the car into it without the driver even needing to steer!

Here’s how it works: first, you find a parallel parking space. But before you reach it, push the Park Assist button that’s located ahead of the gearstick. Two sensors mounted in the front bum­per scan the gap as you slowly pass it, and tell you – via a diagram displayed on a dashboard-mounted screen – if it’s big enough for the VW to fit in.

If there is sufficient space, you stop, select reverse gear and then just let go of the steering wheel. You need to work the accelerator, brakes and clutch as you normally would, but the Touran does the rest. It’s as simple as that!

It’s an unusual feeling watching the steering wheel spin all on its own. Yet you soon get used to it, and just have to remember to hit the middle pedal when the rear parking sensors start to bleep. To judge a space big enough, Park Assist needs only the length of the vehicle plus 1.4 metres.

So is it the perfect answer to parking? No, there are some limitations. The system is a £500 cost option, and you must have your indicator on so it knows which side of the road to scan. If the kerb isn’t straight, the technology can leave you badly parked, while it only works in re-verse; not if you need to shunt forwards again. The facelifted Touran is on sale from mid-January, but the only other technical change involves the introduction of bi-xenon adaptive headlamps. Everything else is cosmetic; the shape of the lights is new at the front and rear, while inside there are fresh upholstery options and a revamped centre console.

More than 85 per cent of Tourans sold in the UK will be diesels, and the most popular variant will be the car we tried, the 1.9 TDI 105. It’s as smooth and impressive to drive as you would expect. This powerplant also comes in 90bhp guise, while there are 140bhp and 170bhp 2.0-litre TDIs, too.

Petrol choices are a 102bhp 1.6 and a 140bhp 1.4 TSI. Buyers can pick from S, SE and Sport trims, and prices start at £14,800 – an increase of around £300.

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