DESIGNING A people carrier, or MPV, is a thankless task. They are adopted reluctantly by drivers who have been blessed with a larger family but as a result now find that the freedom of the open road is just a distant memory. Instead, every family journey is accompanied by quiet cursing under the breath as the car is packed, while enduring rip-off motorway service stations and dealing with the cries of “Are we there yet?” from the back seats.
So Volkswagen’s designers and engineers are unlikely to expect any praise for their latest creation, the Touran people carrier. The new seven-seat MPV, which will go on sale in November, brings many improvements compared with the outgoing model, but in a matter of weeks these will be buried beneath a sea of discarded football boots, half-eaten sweets, leaking juice cartons and missing pairs of headphones.
The third-generation Touran is built on the same platform as Volkswagen’s popular and acclaimed Golf Mk VII. Its body has grown by 13cm and the distance between the front and rear wheels – which typically dictates how spacious a cabin can be – has been stretched by 11cm, leading to an increase in space for passengers and luggage, says VW.
Most buyers will be concerned with fuel consumption more than anything else. This means the 1.6-litre TDI will catch buyers’ attention; it can return up to 68.9mpg when fitted with a seven-speed, DSG automatic gearbox. The new Touran range features three petrol engines and three diesels.
VW says the level of safety equipment has been improved compared with the last model. Buyers can order adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking and handy features such as a system that alerts drivers to oncoming traffic when reversing out of a parking space, and another which helps steer when reversing with a trailer attached to the car.
As before, all five rear seats fold into the floor – liberating a whopping 1,857-litres of luggage space, nearly enough to put up a bouncy castle – and there are Isofix mounts for child seats on each of them.
To keep the modern family connected, the infotainment system is compatible with Apple CarPlay, MirrorLink and AndroidAuto, which are intended to make it easier for a driver or front seat passenger to sync their smartphone.
Prices and trim levels will be announced closer to the time the Touran goes on sale in November.