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The Top Gear car review:Volkswagen Touran
For:Cabin quality, refinement, semi-usable third-row rear seats
Against:Forgettable, taxi-driver image
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What we say:
Not small but still perfectly formed, the Touran is a testament to VW's expertise at dull but good cars
What is it?
A Golf, only with seven-seats and, erm, little else besides. But we’re not complaining. The Golf ranks among our favourite hatchbacks, so the Touran really ought to be good. And it is, if a bit worthy. This new one sits on the hugely versatile MQB platform, which underpins everything from Golfs and A3s right the way up to the tremendous Skoda Superb. It’s a bit wider and significantly longer than the car it replaces, but lighter and oftentimes more economical. As the added benefit is a great deal of extra interior space, particularly for passengers, this is one example of new car growth we thoroughly approve of.
On the road, it’s good, predictably with welcome traces of Golf. It’s agile enough for its size and has decent steering, but it’ll sooner have you driving smoothly than especially swiftly. More importantly for its target market, the ride is fine over all but the most jarring potholes, and the body doesn’t heave and roll about like big MPVs of old, which bodes well for car-sick kids. There’s a bit of wind noise from the door mirrors, but you’re otherwise looking at a quiet, refined, fine-driving MPV.
On the inside
There’s nothing in here especially new or noteworthy, but what strikes you is just how well everything works together. There are seven seats and the rearmost five fold completely flat with little to no effort. With everything stowed, there’s 1,857 litres of space (remember, the wheelbase is 113mm longer than the old car’s). A fair way behind the 2,300 litres of the bigger, more expensive Sharan, but somewhere in between a Ford C-Max and S-Max, so not to be sniffed at, and it’s all easily accessible and eminently usable. And while any adult sat in the third row of either of the Fords would start to seize up after about 10 minutes, if you’re in the Touran, you’ll fare better for longer.
It certainly looks as though the dashboard and all the switchgear is a straight lift from the Golf, which is fine by us because it’s brilliantly tactile. Classy, but doesn’t half make the interior a bit dull. The Golf somehow manages to pull it off, so it must be the bigger expanses of grey plastic that nobble the Touran.
Though VW says all six engines on offer (it’s an all-turbo line-up) are either new or reworked, they are something of a known quantity. Were it our money, we’d go for the 187bhp 2.0-litre TDI from the Golf GTD, but seeing as one of those would cost you north of £30k, sensible money buys something a little more appropriate. Go for the middling 148bhp 2.0-litre TDI or similarly powerful 1.4-litre TSI petrol, or risk struggling up hills if you load it up with many people and things. Both choice motors are brisk and economical enough, and can be coupled with DSG autos if required.