2015 VW Touran 1.6 TDI SE review

VW's latest people-carrier is a cut above most of its rivals, with some great onboard technology. It might not be very exciting, but it's a great advert for the sensible approach...

30 June 2015
2015 VW Touran 1.6 TDI SE review

This is definitely a good time to be shopping for a seven-seater. From S-Max to Sharan, and Alhambra to Galaxy, the better part of the entire people-moving model portfolio has either been renewed or replaced in the past few months, while choice has been enriched even further with the addition to the fold of the new BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer. Now add to that list the third-generation Volkswagen Touran, which comes to the showroom larger and fitter than ever, and with some interesting new comfort and infotainment features.

The Touran uses the same mechanical components that you'll get in the Golf and the Skoda Octavia, but this is the first time it’s been put to use in a seven-seater – and it seems well-suited to the application.

There are two petrol, and three diesel, engines on offer, on average almost 20 per cent more fuel-efficient than the ones they replace. The 108bhp, 1.6-litre TDI manual is expected to be the biggest seller, but if you opt for the seven-speed twin-clutch automatic version it’ll take the car down a percentage point further on company car tax.

What's the 2015 VW Touran 1.6 TDI SE like to drive?

The Touran doesn’t add spice to the usual seven-seater driving experience, particularly in this entry-level diesel form – but it covers the basics very well. The car’s easy to drive, with slick and consistent controls, a pliant and quiet ride, and predictable and tidy handling. 

Neither the steering nor the body control is special enough to deliver much enjoyment, while VW’s 1.6-litre TDI engine borders on the disappointing. It delivers adequate grunt in outright terms, but leaves a bit to be desired on responsiveness, smoothness and willingness to rev.

Real-world economy is more creditworthy, though; expect to regularly better 50mpg.  

What's the 2015 VW Touran 1.6 TDI SE like inside?

The Touran sits between the Sharan and Caddy MPVs in VW’s model line-up, so by definition it isn’t the roomiest car of its kind. The stretched wheelbase has made improvements to second- and third-row legroom, as well as to access to the third row through the car’s long back doors. However this is still only a medium-sized seven-seater, and at the more expensive end of its model range it’ll certainly intrude upon the territory of full-size people-movers and SUVs with proper, adult-sized rear seats. 

The Touran’s second-row seats have good head- and legroom, and they slide and fold independently, but they’re a bit narrow for larger occupants. The third-row seats are still more suited to kids and young teenagers. 

The Touran is still an extremely  practical car, though. Its seats are easy to fold down, its boot is big (743 litres in five-seat mode), it has handy onboard stowage for its load bay cover, and all five back seats have Isofix child seat anchorages (which is very rare to find).

The car’s interior is very solidly constructed and quite richly appointed, with a classier look and feel than the class norm. Standard equipment on our mid-range SE model wasn’t particularly generous, but it did include a crash mitigation system, a DAB radio, and parking sensors all round.

If you’re prepared to spend more on the available options you’ll be rewarded with standout comfort and infotainment technology: a three-zone climate control system with the latest allergen filters, and an 8in touchscreen multimedia set up with mirroring for both Apple and Android smartphones; a wireless hotspot, lots of app-based online functionality, and remote control of the audio system via your tablet. 

You can even connect a wireless GoPro camera to the system in order to keep an eye on the kids in the back, and use the hands-free telephone microphone and speaker hardware in the car to tell them to behave.

Should I buy one?

With your sensible hat on – and assuming larger adults rarely travel with you – probably. The Touran may lack the alternative design allure of a Citroen C4 Grand Picasso, or the unexpectedly deft handling of its competition from Ford, but it’s strong where hard-working family cars need to be strong: on quality, refinement, usability and onboard technology.

Like the VW Golf, the Touran isn’t as generous on standard equipment or simple value-for-money as we’d like – but it’s sufficiently classy and well-mannered to justify its price.

What Car? says…

The rivals:

Seat Alhambra

Citroen Grand C4 Picasso

VW Touran 1.6 TDI SE

Engine size 1.6-litre diesel

Price from £24,000 (est)

Power 108bhp

Torque 184lb ft

0-62mph 11.9 seconds

Top speed 116mph

Fuel economy 64.2mpg

CO2 116g/km