What is the VW Touran?
The Touran is the car Ned Flanders would drive if he lived in Surrey rather than Springfield; the most sensible, rational and dull buying choice a family man or woman can make. This is a five or seven-seat mid-sized MPV with impeccable engineering credentials and the structural integrity and design flair of a nuclear bunker.
The Touran sits in a class that continues to do well as people realise they don’t need a full-sized MPV to carry seven people once in a while. Key rivals include Ford’s impressive Grand C-Max, Citroën’s eclectic and interesting C4 Picasso and the Vauxhall Zafira.
The Touran is available with either of two small petrol engines, of 1.2 and 1.4 litres, or a pair of larger diesels, displacing 1.6 and 2 litres. As ever with such cars, the petrols are not worth considering, and even the 1.6-litre diesel struggles to haul the Touran’s weight at a respectable rate. We’d recommend the cheaper and lower-powered of the two specifications of 2-litre motor as the one that achieves the best blend of performance and economy. And you’ll be grateful for at least pleasant acceleration because there’s nothing else for the driver to enjoy here.
The Touran rides well, is quiet at speed and steers accurately, but even by the frankly dire standards of MPVs, the Touran offers an unremittingly dull way to go about your business.
It’s dull in here too. The driving environment is laid out with typically impeccable VW clarity, but while rivals such as the Citroën C4 Picasso and Renault Scénic add architectural interest through the shapes and materials used, the Touran interior is a monotone of unrelieved plastic. It’s not even a great MPV by modern standards. It lacks the sliding doors of the Ford C-Max, and access to the cramped third row of seats is restricted. Of course, they do fold flat into the floor and the second row can be entirely removed to turn the Touran into a small van, but that’s no more than is to be expected in this class of car these days.
What you can count upon is the designed-in quality, a strength likely still to be appreciated long after the novelty of its rivals’ style has worn off. It doesn’t just look like a brick privy but is built like one too and, with indestructible mechanicals, will provide many years of safe and effective – if far from joyous – motoring.
What to look out for
The Touran has received mixed reviews for reliability; some of the across-the-board engine problems that VW has had in recent years afflict the 2003-2010 range, and the latest DSG transmission is not trouble-free, either. Warranty Direct rated the first-generation model tenth-last in its survey of family cars, citing axle and suspension problems as particular issues. Other lows include the Touran being rated 83rd out of 100 for reliability in the 2008 Auto Express Driver Power survey, where it had been placed 73rd in 2007.
Owners of the older model have reported faults that include failure of the antilock braking system and associated ESP stability system, clutch and flywheel failure, various electrical problems, turbocharger failure on the diesels, water and oil leaks, poor real-life cabin durability and troubles with some unsympathetic VW dealers presenting eye-wateringly high bills. There have been three recalls, for fuel pump problems, issues with the engine flywheel, and DSG transmission faults, although these barely seem to address the multitude of problems endured by owners.
The latest range, however, performed better than average in the 2012 JD Power survey, which moved the Touran in the right direction to 66th place in the 2012 Auto Express top 100, which suggests s have been made.
The one to buy
The Volkswagen Touran 2.0 TDI SE.
- £23,995 (correct at first publication)
- 1968cc, 4 cylinders
- 138bhp @ 4000rpm
- 236 lb ft @ 1750rpm
- 6-speed manual
- 0-62mph in 9.9sec
- Top speed:
- 53.3mpg (combined)
- Road tax band:
- L 4397mm, W 1794mm, H 1674mm
VW Touran rivals
- Audi Q7 (Click here for used car prices on driving.co.uk)
- Volvo XC90 (Click here for used car prices on driving.co.uk)
- Mercedes-Benz R -class (Click here for used car prices on driving.co.uk)