Volkswagen Touran

New race season - new paddock bus. But while the Uniroyal Team Challenge race series is expanding, our circuit HQ is getting smaller. In successive campaigns we've moved through Volkswagen's MPV range. We started out with a Caravelle, then changed to a Sharan and have now opted for the newest (and smallest) people carrier in VW's current line-up, the Touran.

  • Punchy, flexible engine, driving position, cabin storage, clever seating options, sharp handling
  • Engine vibration on tickover, low-opening tailgate, no CD when using satellite-navigation<br/>

New race season - new paddock bus. But while the Uniroyal Team Challenge race series is expanding, our circuit HQ is getting smaller. In successive campaigns we've moved through Volkswagen's MPV range. We started out with a Caravelle, then changed to a Sharan and have now opted for the newest (and smallest) people carrier in VW's current line-up, the Touran.

But our racing readers needn't worry about space for all those helmets and race suits - the Touran is plenty big enough for the task at hand. While the Sharan's rearmost seats spent most of the year in my garage so there was usable load space in the boot, the Touran's chairs fold into the cargo area's floor. It may be a couple of inches shy of its bigger brother in all directions, but this stowage feature makes the car far more practical, and still allows space to accommodate our paddock Go-Ped, pit board and race gear.

In fact, as you'd expect from a new model, the Touran is a lot cleverer all-round. In its predecessor, there were no suitable cubbies for the handbook, but in the newcomer we are spoiled for choice. There are two handy spaces in each front seat, plus more on the dash-top and under the floor in the rear. Add in the boot and glovebox, and brollies, first-aid kits and warning triangles never need roll around the interior. There's even a slot to store the luggage cover when all seven seats are in use. Our only loading gripe is that the tailgate needs pushing up the last few inches to clear my head - I have the bruises to prove it.

The Touran is also much more car-like than its two forerunners. Its driving position is lower, and the seat hugs you more firmly. Despite the smaller dimensions, even my 6ft 3in frame can get comfortable, thanks to the reach and rake adjustable steering wheel, plus height-adjustable seat. I've long since found the right set-up, although the steering wheel blocks part of the dash display.

On the move, the MPV feels livelier than its bigger stablemate, having sharper handling, less body roll and an improved engine. The 2.0-litre common-rail turbodiesel may only boast 136bhp (just six more than the Sharan), but the way the output is delivered is significantly better. It still has that low-down surge as the turbo kicks in, but the power just keeps on coming right up to the red line, rather than tailing off significantly. The action starts lower in the rev range, too, and there's less need to work the six-speed gearbox, which is now loosening up nicely after initially being a bit stiff.

Not only does the all-new diesel powerplant perform better, we are also getting improved fuel consumption, averaging just over 40mpg compared to the Sharan's 37mpg. The only downside appears to be a little harsh vibration felt through the clutch pedal at idle - a small price to pay for such a flexible, potent and economical engine. To top up the Touran's standard Sport spec, we have gone for a few options. In keeping with its motorsport support role, we've added a dealer-fit detachable tow bar at £200 (in case I get time to take my own race car out), reversing aid (£255) and the £1,295 satellite-navigation system, complete with 6.5-inch screen.

The sat-nav works well, but really needs to be combined with a CD changer. This is because when you're using it, the mapping CD occupies the slot that you would normally use to play your audio discs - so it's radio only as far as in-car entertainment goes. But it's a minor grumble and, as with the slightly sticky tailgate, I'm sure we'll get used to it. Let's hope our race season goes as well as our new paddock bus.

Most Popular

UK petrol and diesel prices: petrol stations urged to make price cuts
Kia Niro long-term - petrol station
News

UK petrol and diesel prices: petrol stations urged to make price cuts

Retailers are pocketing bigger margins on petrol and diesel, instead of passing on the 12p per litre oil price cut
30 Nov 2021
Next-gen Volkswagens to get smarter and more comfortable
Volkswagen tech
Volkswagen

Next-gen Volkswagens to get smarter and more comfortable

Volkswagen is working on a host of new technology, including fly-by-wire steering, a driver-facing interior camera and an intelligent chassis
30 Nov 2021
New seven-seat Dacia Jogger priced from £14,995
Dacia Jogger - Munich front
Dacia Jogger

New seven-seat Dacia Jogger priced from £14,995

Pre-orders open for the new Dacia Jogger ahead of 2022 deliveries, and low prices make it Britain’s cheapest seven-seater
1 Dec 2021