VW Touran BlueMotion

VW MPV, complete with eco tweaks, makes strong case for itself

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

The Touran wasn’t really broken – so VW hasn’t had to fix it. Instead, it has carried out a raft of comprehensive refinements, which improve the experience for drivers and passengers alike. The new car is better to drive and to look at than before, while cabin quality has taken a step forward, too. Buyers are also likely to be wowed by the technology, which includes the innovative Park Assist system. The trouble is, all these improvements come at a price that’s set to be undercut by more established rivals.

It was late to the MPV party when it arrived in 2003, but the VW Touran has been a huge hit.

In seven years, more than one million have found homes, and now there’s a new version, which promises to be more stylish, hi-tech and frugal than ever. But with Ford’s second-generation C-MAX on sale this autumn, will that be enough?

Ignore the familiar look – this is an all-new car, sharing its chassis with the latest Golf, and much of its design, too. The grille and front bumper air intakes use horizontal lines to make the MPV appear wider than it is, and the angular headlights contribute to the clean and simple design.

The rear gets a vertical tailgate with a large rectangular window to aid visibility, while visual drama is provided by a set of intricate LED tail-lamps.

Inside, VW has paid attention to quality and practicality. There’s a multifunction steering wheel and subtly backlit dials lifted from the Golf, plus a new centre console with improved heating controls.

Bosses claim that there are 39 separate storage compartments – including the air-conditioned glovebox – while the Touran has seven seats as standard. The two rear chairs, which are only really suitable for small children, fold into the boot, giving a 695-litre load area. The middle row of three can all be moved, folded or taken out independently, to provide a total capacity of 1,913 litres.

In addition, this is the first model to get a new version of VW’s Park Assist. This improves on the excellent system that sees the on-board computer take over steering controls when parallel parking. The lights incorporate an automatic beam control set-up, too. When they spot an oncoming vehicle, they dip by themselves.

On the move, the Touran is excellent. Visibility is superb and the slab sides make placing the car on the road easy. The ride is firm but not uncomfortable, while there was very little noise intrusion from our car’s 104bhp 1.6-litre TDI diesel engine.

The unit revs freely, and offers adequate response even when the MPV is fully loaded. But more impressive is the fact it returns a brilliant 61.4mpg – thanks to VW’s fuel-saving BlueMotion tweaks, which include stop-start. It all adds up to another strong seller.

Rival: Ren. Grand Scenic Seven-seater Renault can’t quite match the quality feel of the latest Touran, but it runs it very close in terms of driver appeal. The Grand Scenic’s trump cards include a lower list price, longer standard equipment tally and more spacious interior – so it’s a really tempting proposition.

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