The Volkswagen Touran isn't pretty, but it's practical. If you have a large family this MPV is an admirable choice, writes car reviewer Tim Barnes-Clay.
Volkswagen is the biggest German motor manufacturer and the second largest automaker on the planet.
It also has three models in the top 10 list of best-selling cars of all time: the Golf, the Beetle and the Passat.
When it came to people carriers the Beetle was out, and the Passat had already been used to shape the Sharan.
So the firm launched the VW Touran: a compact multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) based on the Golf.
VW Touran: A larger VW Golf
That was 10 years ago and the idea was to plug the gap in VW's range below the larger Sharan.
A decade later and the Touran is still with us, albeit in a slightly different guise.
In 2010 it was updated to the Golf MkVI platform – the original having been based on a MkV.
It's available as a five or seven seater, but seven is the most no-nonsense choice.
Not sexy but drives well
Appearance-wise no MPV is ever going to be sexy, but the vertically and horizontally extended Golf - for that's what it is - drives well.
Even though the motor was revamped three years ago, its styling looks fresh - for a people carrier.
If you're an anorak, you'll know the current model has a lower, wider look than the pre-2010 Touran. It's also got different wing mirrors and a redesigned backside.
And under the skin the series has an efficient range of engines, including the 1.6-litre TDI 105 PS, lent to me.
VW Touran: Spec
Inside the Volkswagen Touran, the entertainment and climate functions are, well, functional - in a characteristically German way - and the three-spoke steering wheel sits to the front of logical dials.
Naturally, the MPV's focal point is flexibility, with the ability to transport seven people, but this doesn't mean the car behaves like a minibus.
In truth, the ride is much better than you might imagine.
There's little lean when cornering and the Touran's insulation shuts out much of what passes you by.
Everything exudes excellence so the interior, with its air conditioning and upmarket stereo system, is an agreeable place to sit as the miles are munched.
Safety is never an issue with the Wolfsburg-based motor-maker either, so gadgets we've come to take for granted are, of course, fitted to the Touran.
Steering aids to help you park
An anti-lock braking system (ABS), an electronic stabilisation programme (ESP) and six airbags come as standard.
Furthermore, if you find tight parking spaces a strain, the VW Touran's steering aids will help.
Not only do the latest sensors require less space to perform parallel manoeuvres, they allow the VW to be shoehorned into gaps at 90 degrees to the kerb.
There are three trim levels available: S, SE and Sport.
I found my SE version offered more than enough comfort, gadgetry and level-headedness – and all for a tolerable price-tag of £22,675.
'Admirable' choice for large families
So, if you have a large family, the Touran is an admirable choice.
Yes, there are cheaper MPVs, but you won't find many with the drivability of the legendry Golf.
It's not pretty, but it's practical - and, at the end of the day, you'll be able to sell your Touran for a decent wedge because of two things: "V" and "W".
To most people these two letters stand for quality – even on a used car.
VW Touran: Pros & cons
- Practical √
- Build quality √
- Drivability √
- Residual value √
- Not the prettiest X
VW Touran: Fast facts
- Max speed: 114 mph
- 0-62 mph: 12.8 secs
- Combined mpg: 55.4
- Engine: 1598 cc 16 valve 4 cylinder turbo diesel
- Max. power (bhp): 103 at 4400 rpm
- Max. torque (lb/ft): 185 at 1500-2500 rpm
- CO2: 134 g/km
- Price: £22,675 on the road
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