Volkswagen Touran (2011-2015) review
VW Touran offers a spacious and flexible cabin, comfortable ride and a great range of engines
A solid interior, a wide range of engines and huge practicality make the Volkswagen Touran one of the most flexible MPVs on sale today. With five- and seven-seat options, think of it as a smaller version of the VW Sharan – but due to its more compact dimensions and lower kerbweight, the Touran has the edge over its larger sibling when it comes to efficiency.
That’s because all of VW’s engines available in the Touran use BlueMotion technology to reduce the rate at which they burn fuel and pump out CO2. The most efficient model in the range is the 1.6-litre TDI, which keeps emissions down to 121g/km CO2 – an impressively low total for an MPV. This means fuel economy of up to 61.4mpg combined according to VW.
There’s a range of petrol and diesel engines on offer, but we’d advise you think hard about the entry-level 1.2 TSI petrol – in a car this large it’s adequate in most situations but it can feel underpowered on motorways when you need some extra power to go for an overtake.
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The Touran line-up is simple – there are just three trim levels on offer: S, SE and Sport. Entry-level S spec is still relatively well equipped and gets cruise control, 15-inch alloy wheels and a DAB radio as standard. Prices start from £19,790, which is more expensive than some rivals like the Ford C-Max, but it’s still affordable. Bear in mind the basic S spec does without an alarm, though.
Upgrading to the SE model will cost an extra £3,810 and benefits from an alarm, front and rear parking sensors, Volkswagen’s Multi Device Interface and larger 16-inch alloy wheels. Above this is the top of the range Sport model, which features climate control and sports seats – prices start at £26,930.
Engines, performance and drive
The Volkswagen Touran comes with a choice of five different engines. The entry-level S model is available with a 103bhp 1.2-litre TSI petrol or a 1.6-litre TDI BlueMotion Technology diesel that offers the same power, but shaves over 20g/km of CO2 to give an overall emissions figure of just 121g/km, combined with an average of 61.4mpg.
The latter is available in SE-spec, as is a 138bhp 1.4-litre TSI petrol and a 2.0-litre TDI BlueMotion diesel with the same power output. The top-spec Sport model also gets the 138bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine, but comes with a more powerful 175bhp version, too, capable of going from 0-62mph in just 8.8 seconds. It’s only available with VW’s DSG automatic gearbox as standard.
The 2.0-litre engines provide strong, smooth acceleration while the 1.2 puts up a good fight and is gutsy in the mid-range. With a firm ride, the VW isn’t as comfortable as a Citroen C4 Picasso, although motorway refinement is on a par with a Renault Scenic. In corners, there’s enough grip and body roll is well controlled, but you’d struggle to call it exciting.
It feels heavy and inert compared to rivals, but fine body control helps prevent passengers feeling queasy in the back, while easy and fluent handling makes for a great ride. The Touran's upright dimensions mean that some wind noise is generated, but overall, it's a refined cruiser in the MPV class.
MPG, CO2 and Running Costs
The most efficient engine in the range is the 1.6 diesel with BlueMotion Technology, which emits just 121g/km of CO2 and returns fuel economy of 61.4mpg – this also means it's free from road tax for the first year.
The 1.2 TSI, and 138bhp 2.0 TDI are also available with BlueMotion Technology tweaks, while stop-start and brake energy recovery means these engines achieve 44.1mpg and 58.9mpg respectively. The most expensive engine to tax is the 1.4-litre petrol, which lands in band G and will cost £180 per year.
As well as a three-year/60,000 mile warranty, Volkswagen offers a three-year/30,000 mile fixed price service plan.
Interior, design and technology
The Touran is characterised with Volkswagen's trademark three-bar chrome grille and angular headlights. Unlike the larger Sharan, which has sliding doors, the Touran has conventional hinged doors, but it doesn’t impact practicality too much. Even the cheapest S model gets 15-inch alloy wheels, but the top-spec sport version get a chrome trim, tinted rear windows and even larger alloys.
However, even with these extra styling details, the basic shape of the Touran is boxy and a touch bland compared to more heavily designed MPVs like the Citroen C4 Picasso family and Ford C-Max.
There’s no doubting the Touran’s roots, because it looks just like a conventional people carrier with Golf styling cues. Unfortunately, although it has tight shutlines and a good finish, it’s dull to look at – especially if you go for one of the uninspiring metallic colours. Climb inside and you’re greeted by a Golf-style layout. While it’s well built and the switchgear works with precision, it’s no better than the Citroen’s and doesn’t have its rivals’ design flair.
Practicality, comfort and boot space
The Touran is available with either five or seven seats, but with the latter, boot space is limited to 121 litres, which means you won’t be able to store much luggage.
Fold the rear seats down, however, and this increases to 700 litres. If the limited boot space is a problem, then the five-seat version would be the better option. With the second row of seats folded, the Touran expands to offer 1,913 litres of boot space – far more than the Vauxhall Zafira Tourer. The seating arrangement is flexible, too; the rear bench can be transformed into two outer seats with a table in the middle. There are 39 storage areas in the front, which includes a sunglasses holder, under-seat storage boxes and a generous glove compartment.
Reliability and Safety
The Touran uses tried-and-tested Golf running gear, and has been on sale long enough to have most of its teething troubles ironed out. Likewise, the engine range is used across the VW Group, and much of the switchgear can be found in other VW models.
Our Driver Power survey reveals that owners admire the Touran’s practicality but little else, and the brand’s overall performance wasn’t great finishing in 19th place out of 33 manufacturers. VW dealers could also do better: they finished 31st, with customers criticising their high prices and unhelpful staff.
Safety kit on the Touran is good, with driver, front passenger, side and curtain airbags fitted as standard, which helped the VW achieve a full-five-star rating when Euro NCAP crash tested the car.