VW Touran - All In Its Stride

by : R Auchterlonie

Hands up who thought 7 Up was a drink? We did too until it took on a completely new meaning, thanks to a compact VW people carrier and a willing bunch of volunteers...

VW's latest version of the Touran arrived in the car park with the obligatory press pack detailing the fact this was the 1.4 litre SE TSI model (£18,250 on the road). 1.4? Surely not. After all, there are seven seats in there. A run down to Stansted (with six empty seats) for an early morning flight served to show what a relaxing car the Touran can be on a motorway trip. No undue road or engine noise, the little 1.4 TSI slipping along effortlessly, belying its sheer lack of cubic centimetres.

Cross country on the way back it didn't let itself down either, having enough zip to get past the lorries stuck steadfastly at 40mph while others were forced to follow in line astern, fingers drumming on the steering wheel in frustration. But that was in single user mode. What, we wondered, would it be like with the full complement of seven seats filled? We picked carefully from the office. Two more petite members of staff for the rear two seats, a couple of lads eager to leave the computer screen for a five minute break and a couple of lardy boys for good measure. And a six foot five inch driver for good measure. Did it falter? Not a bit, to be fair. It had that fully loaded feel to it, but it pulled capably in all the gears and gave the impression there was more there if needed.

It's the engine lettering that gives the game away. TSI means it has an engine driven supercharger as well as an exhaust gas turbocharger. The supercharger works at lower engine speeds with the turbo kicking in as engine speed increases. The end result is excellent driveability and good performance throughout the range. Torque (pulling power) is always good and there's no discernible turbo lag to impede progress. It means you can have a relatively small engine like this that will give good fuel efficiency through its high gearing, especially when you're cruising at motorway speeds and its not having to work too hard at all. Its combined fuel consumption figure is quoted as 38.2mpg. My best was an indicated 34.6. Its power output is given at 140PS at 5600rpm, and the torque figure of 162lb/ft is there from 1500 to 4000rpm, so it is well able to keep up with the flow of traffic.

The styling is surprisingly neat given its shape. Square at the back but in a stylish way, everything inside is pure Volkswagen, from that classic blue backlighting of the instrumentation to the overall fit and finish. I usually prefer to sit low in a car but in something like this it's no hardship to be a bit higher as the view of the instruments can be compromised. And as it's a taller vehicle it helps to give a more commanding view of the road. On which its composure is exemplary.

What a deceptively good car. I like the neat way the rear seat belts for the sixth and seventh seats, and the centre one in the middle row, stow up in the roof well out of the way, as well as the fact it's a really user friendly vehicle. The seats are easy to tip when you need access to the rear, and the back pair can be quickly folded flat when you need a bit more carrying capacity.

This version of the Touran has been on sale since January and like its predecessor, offers pretty good value for money through a good level of standard equipment, decent engines and a flexible outlook on life.

Take your pick from three variants - S, SE and Sport - all of which have alloy wheels, air con, a CD player, and remote centre locking. Touran has always been acknowledged for its safety features and the new model has front, side and head airbags as well as ABS and ESP. There's also a new counter steering feature which improves stability under braking and can actually reduce stopping distances by up to 10 per cent.