As experienced journalists we’ve grown accustomed to driving on the other side of the road. Where it gets tricky, however, is through a city centre like Amsterdam with hundreds of cyclists crossing your path at various angles and kerbstones that are far from uniform. Add to this the odd speeding tram and you need to have your wits about you. As such, your vehicle needs to be responsive and light on its feet in order to avoid the rage of a cyclist; not traits usually associated with a family MPV. The new Volkswagen Touran, however, excelled at the task.
Approaching the parked Touran outside of Schiphol airport, I found myself second guessing whether it was rather the recently-introduced Golf SV I was seeing. Indeed, while the styling is similar to that of the SV a longer wheelbase and stretched luggage area differentiate the two. That said, the new Touran shares the same air of quality as the aforementioned Golf derivative. Certainly, new LED headlights add a nice touch too.
Inside too a similarly stylish, Golf-based, interior has been adapted for application in the Touran MPV. I was, however, disappointed with the quality of the flip-up picnic tables at the rear of the front seat backs and the fitment of the central console storage lid in our test vehicle.
Allowing for improved visibility the Touran's driving position is slightly raised compared with that of a standard Golf. The seats are comfortable and the steering wheel offer both rake-and-reach adjustment. A tri-zone climate control system is standard fitment while the 5,8-inch touch infotainment screen can be upgraded to a 6,5-inch (Discover Pro Media) unit incorporating satellite navigation.
As in the previous Touran, a second row of seats is configures as three individual pews, each with a slide and/or folding function. An optional third row of seats should provide adequate legroom for children. Unfortunately an audio system-based voice amplification setup for clear communication with the occupants of this third row of seats has yet to be approved for our market. Additional storage space below the boot board is available in models that don't feature these additional seats. Not that any extra space is necessarily needed once the impressive claimed 743-litre luggage area is considered. Given all the seat configurations, the Touran should be able to swallow everything this side of a piano.
My front-wheel-driven 1,4-litre turbopetrol test vehicle featured VW's impressive 7-speed DSG transmission. It provided reasonable performance but can feel strained under a heavy right foot. I was impressed with the handling capabilities of the MQB platform on which the Touran is built; proving more than competent for the needs of the everyday family person.
A comprehensive safety list includes nine airbags, ESC stability control and a multi-collision program aimed at bringing the vehicle to an halt after an accident. It's a pity the adaptive cruise control and autonomous city braking systems will not be offered in our market. The same goes for a trailer assist system that helps the driver avoid embarrassment while reversing a trailer. I tested this particular feature at the lunch stop where I successfully backed a caravan into a parking space using the mirror adjust button as a joystick. The corresponding steering inputs are taken care of by an algorithm on the control system.
The new Touran builds on the success of the MQB platform and provides ample space for the active family. That said, for the sake of a potential saving it would also be advisable to check whether the similarly-accomplished (yet ultimately smaller) Golf SV does not tick the relevant boxes. Should you need more space (and/or extra seats) the Touran represents a competent choice in the MPV segment; one that significantly undercuts other supposedly more premium options in this niche.