If you’re in the market for an MPV, the chances are that you need one for family transport. What if you really want something with a racier character, though? According to Volkswagen, the answer is the R-Line version of their compact seven-seat MPV the Touran.
Sitting at the top of the range, the R-Line brings a long list of standard equipment plus 18in alloy wheels, twin exhaust pipes, a body kit plus some R-Line badging inside and out. Mechanically, it’s no different to any other Touran, although you can only have this trim level with the range’s more powerful engines.
Importantly, the Touran’s practicality hasn’t been altered: you still get five normal sized seats plus a pair of smaller chairs that fold into the boot floor.
What is the 2016 Volkswagen Touran 2.0 TDI R-Line like to drive?
Being the sporty version, the R-Line can’t be had with the most frugal 1.6-litre diesel engine; as it can struggle when the Touran is fully loaded, we don’t see this as a problem. You can have a 187bhp 2.0 diesel, but we tried the lesser 148bhp version.
In the real world, this offers plenty of performance to easily get the Touran up to motorway speeds. The six-speed manual gearbox fitted to our test car had a light yet precise shift action and the steering was well weighted if devoid of feel.
As standard, you get a four-mode driving system that offers different settings for the steering weight, engine response and behaviour of the adaptive cruise control. You can select Eco, Normal or Sport or Individual, which lets you select a combination of the three, so you can have sporty steering but standard engine response. That said, Normal mode works well and we ended up leaving it in that most of the time.
The Touran has plenty of grip in corners and, although it’s not sporty, it feels safe and secure. Indeed, the only real change R-Line trim brings is a slightly poorer ride thanks to the bigger 18in wheels.
While sports suspension is an option, we fear your children may not appreciate a ride that may be firmer still. Adaptive dampers that can be made firmer or softer depending on your mood are another option, but a smaller-wheeled Touran from lower down the range will have a more comfortable ride.
What is the 2016 2016 Volkswagen Touran 2.0 TDI R-Line like inside?
Like the exterior, the interior gets sporty touches, including a flat-bottomed steering wheel with R-Line badging, stainless steel pedals, some carbonfibre-effect trim, plus sporty looking part Alcantara seats with R-Line embossing.
As this version sits at the top of the range, there’s also a standard fit sat-nav, DAB radio, three-zone climate control and adaptive cruise control. Factor in the solid-feeling plastics and controls that you’d expect from a Volkswagen interior, and you have a soberly attractive environment in which to travel.
Space for front seat passengers is as generous as you’d expect; it’s unlikely anyone will want for any more head room or leg room. The middle row is similarly generous in its spaciousness, especially with the seats slid backwards, although three adults will be cosy.
Once you’ve pulled the third row of seats out of their hiding place in the boot floor, you’ll find accommodation isn’t quite as roomy. There’s no dip for you feet to sit in so taller people will have their knees around their ears. Kids will be fine, but if you want to carry anyone bigger, you’re better off with an Alhambra or Galaxy.
Should I buy one?
Although the Touran might appear an expensive option, excellent resale values mean that when bought with a PCP, its pricing becomes pretty competitive. Even so, we would advise steering clear of the R-Line version unless you absolutely have to have something that looks a bit sporty on your drive.
Not that it would be a bad choice; the R-Line is still practical, has a classy interior and is pleasant if unexciting to drive. Ultimately though, SE or SE Family trim levels offer all the equipment you’d need in an MPV, and they have a better ride and will cost you thousands of pounds less.
Just remember that this is still a compact people carrier, if you intend to transport anyone approaching adult size in the third row for any length of time, a bigger MPV would be a more practical choice.
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What Car? says...
Engine size 2.0-litre diesel
Price from £29,210
Torque 251lb ft
Top speed 129mph
Fuel economy (official) 62.8mpg
CO2 output 117g/km