VW’s Touran is one terrific MPV

By Jesse Adams Time of article published Mar 24, 2011

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What business do I have driving VW’s seven-seater Touran MPV? I’m a single bachelor with no kids and my grocery-getting escapades hardly ever involve more than a litre of milk and a six-pack of hotdogs.

I feel like Chuck Yeager flying solo in a Boeing. Not to imply that the Touran is huge or anything. It’s just that my average weekly routine would hardly test the capabilities of such a spacious and versatile car.

My sister gives me a steely stare as I arrive at her place for a visit. She’s unpacking her two toddlers from the back of her tiny Yaris; the boot lid about to burst under pressure from all the kiddy stuff packed in there. I’m about to offer a helping hand, but one look at what a bottle of baby formula can do to Toyota’s finest cloth upholstery and I back away. At least I think it’s baby formula ...

The Touran is designed for her. This test version, with an optional third row of seats (R7 900), could comfortably fit her, her two lighties and all those prams and tog bags full of whatever things little boys need to get through a day. For her, it’s a common occasion when her kids’ two cousins also need a lift to school, or soccer, or whatever, and that folding third row would come in very handy. A couple of my fully-grown buddies might struggle to fit comfortably back there but could squeeze in if they really had to.

And my nephews too would enjoy the ride. There’s a pair of folding trays from the front seat backs that they could plaster with an emulsion of animal biscuits and Oros, and there’s pockets and drawers everywhere to cram action figures into. Our car was fitted with an optional alcantara (suede) seat package, but if you’re anything like my sister with two kids you can ignore this and save yourself R15 080.

The Touran’s based on the Golf platform but with strengthened suspension bits to handle the extra weight. It’s also lengthened by 100mm, and because it’s a van the raised seating height allows for a good view of the road. I also noticed that the all surrounding windows are designed to give good visibility and there’s a full 360 degree vantage from the driver’s perch.

My sister probably wouldn’t notice that the chassis is very soft in this MPV application. Funny, considering it’s based on the very solid Golf, but if you take a speed hump diagonally you can hear all the door rubbers creak under flex. But torsional rigidity isn’t exactly high on the criteria list for small family transport.

In typical VW fashion the cabin is vacuum sealed from the outside world and it’s a serene place even at high speed. However, because it’s so quiet in there, irritating dashboard noises like the metallic squeak coming from our test car’s instrument cluster, are all the more prevalent.

The recently revised Touran range comes with four engine choices – two petrol and two turbodiesel, and this particular car was the more powerful petrol option with 103kW and 220Nm available from its super- and turbocharged 1.4-litre four cylinder. We at Motoring have commended this engine in the past when we drove it in other VW models because it revs so smoothly and the power delivery is nice and linear. There’s zero lag here and it pulls strongly right through the rev range.

Motor industry fuel consumption claims are rarely achievable and in the Touran our real-world 9.3 litres per 100km is far from VW’s quoted 6.8 average. Still it’s reasonable, especially for the peppy performance, but we just wonder whether all the complicated charging systems are worth the trouble. A simple 1.8 turbo would most likely achieve similar performance and petrol consumption figures.

Our satellite-based Vbox test equipment (which doesn’t lie, all ye non-believers) says the 1.4 TSI Touran is good for 10.4 seconds to 100km/h, and 17.3 seconds over the quarter mile. With one single bachelor on board that is.

VERDICT:

My sister and her two little boys would kill for a Touran. And believe it or not, I wouldn’t mind driving one day to day either. It’s so comfortable and convenient, and in this model the performance isn’t too shabby either.

At R299 800 before options (R333 200 as tested) the Touran’s not the cheapest small MPV available, but it would be my first choice. -Mercury Motoring

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