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Volkswagen Touran Sport 2.0 TDI 140PS

Click to view picture gallery“Volkswagen simply doesn’t do
’. Even the electrifying Golf R
  appears remarkably restrained.
  Instead, VW does another
F fit
  for purpose. And the latest Touran
  follows that standard to the letter

THE 'ONE-BOX' BODY restrictions necessary for a compact MPV with seating for seven does somewhat cramp a designer's style but even so the new Touran manages to look polished. A comprehensively refreshed front-end that continues the Golf 'look' works well, as does the restyled tailgate at the back.

Under the skin, all the improvements and upgrades (actually, apart from the four doors, every other body part of the Touran has been restyled) have been implemented to improve its core appeal of family-friendliness and versatility.

These days, family-drivers are the car buyers most likely to value 'economy' higher than out-and-out driveability when making a decision to buy. For them, Volkswagen has provided fuel-maximising BlueMotion Technology variants that offer pretty impressive real-world economy.

But that's not to say opting for one of the more powerful turbodiesel powerplants incurs serious economy penalties. We've just spent a week in the company of the very driveable 140PS (138bhp) 2.0 TDI that officially returns 53.3mpg on the combined cycle and 42.8 and 61.4mpg respectively for the urban and extra-urban cycles. Our overall average consumption worked out to a figure that most family drivers would be more than satisfied with: 52.8mpg.

Opting for one of the
more powerful
turbodiesel powerplants
doesn’t mean you
ll get
hit at the pumps — the
very driveable 138bhp 2.0
TDI averaged 52.8mpg in
real-world driving
Climb aboard the new Touran and, whichever model it is, you'll enjoy a smart interior. Notable improvements include a smarter three-spoke steering wheel, white backlit dials, redesigned centre stack with smart chrome detailing and new ventilation controls.

Updates aside, range-topping Sport specification models provide just about everything you'll want or need. For a start, the driver and front passenger sit in figure-holding sports seats upholstered in Alcantara with 'Microfibre' side bolsters cool in the summer; warm in the winter both with height and lumbar adjustment and the leather-rimmed steering wheels adjusts for height and reach. A wide armrest between the two front seats offers good elbow room and can be happily shared.

Incidentally, the driver and all passengers sit higher up than in a conventional car which also makes entry and exit nice and easy. Materials in our Sport specification test car felt upmarket and the fit and finish was up to the usually high VW standards. Likewise, all switchgear and controls operate with agreeable precision. The climate control is straightforward and the improved black-faced dials with their white backlighting are crystal clear.

An electric panoramic glass sunroof is optional but at 930 you should consider ticking the box because it really floods the cabin with natural light and makes it an even better place to be the kids will love it; and our test car's panoramic roof stayed open quite a lot of the time. It also comes complete with an integrated roller blind that, unusually, can be used while the roof is open if you want fresh air but not sunshine.

Adding to the C&C (comfort and convenience) is efficient 2Zone electronic climate control with automatic air recirculation, multifunction computer, touchscreen radio/MP3-compatible 6CD autochanger with eight speakers and AUX-in socket, cruise control, four electric windows, heated and electrically adjusted door mirrors, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, rain-sensing wipers, multifunction steering wheel, heat-insulating tinted glass (darker from the B-pillar back), automatic coming/leaving home lighting, Hill Hold, parking sensors front and rear, Park Assist and anodised chrome finish roof rails.

Safety kit includes fog lights with a static cornering function, ESP stability control and a raft of safety aids including ABS and brake assist plus front and front-side airbags and a curtain airbag system for front and second row passengers.

The driving position is spot on and, from behind the wheel, all you would expect from a Volkswagen. Vision out is good in all directions and it's as easy to place on the road as it's easy to drive. Speed-sensitive power-assisted steering makes parking equally easy by providing a light helm at low speeds. If parking is not your forte then you can always leave it to the Touran to do it for you.

SE and Sport versions
are fitted as standard
with VW
s amazing Park
Assist. This parking
really will park
the car for you
SE and Sport versions are fitted as standard with VW's amazing Park Assist. This parking 'android' really will park the car for you. All you have to do is press a button on the centre console Park Assist then detects a large enough parking space for either reverse or parallel parking and the assisted parking proves cuts in.

The driver then only needs to select reverse gear and operate the accelerator and brake while keeping a good lookout. Park Assist (maybe VW should have named it 'Parker' remember Thunderbirds?) then takes care of steering your Touran into its chosen space. Not only does it require far less space (around 5.2 metres) than the average human to perform parallel parking manoeuvres, but it will also park for you in end-on (90 degrees to the kerb) spaces as well as on pavements and between trees!

However, if you're a traditionalist at heart or your ego just won't let a robot do it for you, there are front and rear parking sensors with the by-now fairly commonplace 'beeping' alerts and accompanying graphics on the display. Specify the optional rear-view camera (just 215) and you'll get an electronically straightened image on the display combined with an unobscured view behind that makes 'human' parking even easier, even when towing a trailer.

A thoughtful touch whether it's you or Parker who does the parking is the climate control's trick of momentarily switching automatically to recirculating mode when reversing (and also when the screen washers are used) to prevent smells of exhaust or windscreen wash entering the cabin.

Notwithstanding the convenience of having your very own 'parking butler', the Touran's forte is to serve you in a number of transportation ways: for everyday commuting or the school run; and at weekends, half-term and summer holidays as the family's personal people carrier; and even as an out-and-our load-carrying van.

Guaranteeing its fitness for purpose are seven seats laid out in the classic 3-3-2 configuration. For the record you can, for the same price, have a five-seater specification although as the third row of two individual seats fold flush into the floor (to make a very big 695-litre boot) there's seems little point in not having seven even if you use them only occasionally.

For the record, with all seven seats in use there's 121 litres of boot space about enough for the weekly family shop but it is supplemented by storage compartments in the rear side panels and the floor. The good news is that the new tailgate is easier to close, doing so gently in one swing.

Challenge the kids
to find all 35 storage
compartments in
the Touran
s cabin.
And when they
ve done
that you could get
them checking out the
500 — yes, 500!
For heavy-duty cargo duties the centre row of seats can be folded, giving a level-floored and van-like 1,913 litres of load space (if the rearmost two seats are not fitted this increases to 1,989 litres). Not only can all three individual middle-row seats be slid backwards or forwards (to suit legroom or luggage requirements) and even moved sideways, but each can also be removed completely.

There are decent amounts of leg and head room in the middle row and the centre seat can be folded to serve as a table that can be used by all four rear passengers. Usefully, it's made of robust plastic and is rimmed so no problem if drinks get spilled.

For less sizeable items you might like to challenge the kids to find all 35 storage compartments (depending on spec) within the Touran's cabin. Here's a couple to start you off: a large, lidded compartment on top of the fascia and storage drawers beneath both front seats. And when they've done that you could get them checking out the 500 yes, 500! seat combinations.

The third row's pair of seats can be used by adults although knee room is a bit restricted. But they're fairly well padded and we did fit in a couple of thirtysomethings for a 50-mile round trip. Of course they're perfect for and loved by youngsters. All seven seats have proper three-point seat belts and adjustable and removable headrests. Isofix child seat mountings are provided on the two outer middle row seats.

Its dedication to family values doesn't stop the Touran being a pleasant drive. The ride quality is just about right; forgiving enough for comfort and firm enough for handling. Bumps are mopped up without penalty and it's precise and predictable on the road. Body lean is kept in check on the twisty bits, aided by the light but direct speed-sensitive steering that keeps it faithfully on track. The brakes are strong, reassuringly progressive and haul the Touran up as powerfully as you want. All the family, and not just the driver, will enjoy the lack of road and wind noise and the relaxed ride, above all on long journeys.

Powerwise, the four-cylinder 2.0 TDI is a strong but relatively quiet performer and, averaging 50+mpg in the real-world, fuel-efficient too. It's also the right powerplant if you want some get-up-and-go under your right foot. With 138bhp, it's more than up to the job and backed-up by its diesely 236lb ft of torque (on tap from 1,750rpm), low down power is always there for the taking. On quick A-roads and motorways overtaking is undemanding, with slick 'n' smooth gear changes kept to the minimum. Top speed is 125mph and zero to 62mph takes a crisp 9.9 seconds.

As we said at the beginning, the Touran's as far from flashy as you can get; but intensely fit for purpose. It's well planned interior and seating flexibility will endear it to the families who use it and, given its evident robustness, long will they sail in her!

Volkswagen Touran Sport 2.0 TDI 140PS | 24,615
Maximum speed: 125mph | 0-62mph: 9.9 seconds | Overall Test MPG: 52.8mpg
Power: 138bhp | Torque: 236lb ft | CO2 140g/km