The 1.6-litre diesel is a popular choice as it comes with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard and offers good economy. It might not be breathtakingly quick, but it’s powerful enough to cope with everyday use and the real-world fuel efficiency is excellent. If you want a bit more power then look at the 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel which offers more performance and good economy, but costs more. We’ve yet to try the more powerful 187bhp 2.0-litre diesel, but the extra power could make it a good option if you regularly tow a caravan or travel with a full load.
It’s the same story with the 148bhp 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine that also comes only on the pricier trims. This is a shame because it makes a good alternative to a diesel, offering more than enough pace for open-road driving, along with decent economy. The 1.2-litre petrol, on the other hand, is fine as a city car, but on faster roads it feels gutless.
Volkswagen Touran ride comfort
The Touran rides with easy fluidity over most surfaces, softening all but the worst bumps, and only fidgeting a little over scruffy town roads. It rides well even on the larger wheels of the R-Line trim, though for the smoothest progress we’d recommend sticking with the smaller 17in alloys.
You can add adaptive dampers at a fair cost, but you’re better off saving your money given how settled the Touran remains on its standard suspension. We’d also avoid the optional sports suspension as ride comfort is almost certain to suffer.
Volkswagen Touran handling
Anyone who’s driven a VW Golf will feel at home with the Touran’s handling. The steering is predictable and well-weighted, there’s loads of grip, and body lean is kept well in check – more so than any rival.
It’s not a particularly involving car to drive but it tracks well on the motorway, and is easy to steer around town. It actually doesn’t feel like a big car to drive, which is not something you can say of its more cumbersome rivals.
S and SE trims have variable drive modes available as a very affordable option. Eco boosts economy but dulls responses, Normal is a happy medium and Sport brings heavier steering and a sharper throttle response. It’s an unnecessary extra given how well-judged the control weights are as standard, but you do get this function as standard on higher trims and it doesn’t spoil the way the Touran drives.
Volkswagen Touran refinement
The 1.6 TDI is not the quietest diesel. It generates a gritty-sounding dirge that creeps into the cabin when you’re accelerating, which only relents on a steady throttle. The 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel is much smoother and quieter throughout. We haven’t driven the 187bhp diesel yet, but it’s likely to be gruffer, although not to the point of annoyance.
Both the petrol engines are very smooth and relatively quiet in everyday use. The 1.2-litre only gets noisier by dint of being underpowered, and needing to be revved hard to keep up with fast-moving traffic.
The Touran doesn’t suffer undue wind or road noise, and indeed, in our noise tests, it proved to be quieter than the Citroën Grand C4 Picasso at 30mph and 70mph. The Touran is also one of the best cars in the class for keeping mechanical vibration to a minimum, while the clutch is light and precise, and the gearshift is no chore.
This is the entry-level diesel option, and comes with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard. It serves up enough pace for easy everyday use (even with a loaded car) and is a good option if you want high economy and low emissions. It’s one of the best value picks of the range.
2.0 TDI 150
The 2.0 TDI 150 is more refined than the 1.6-litre diesel, and offers a great balance between performance and economy. It picks up smartly from low revs and has plenty of mid-range shove, meaning you can make good progress without having to thrash the engine hard, even on the motorway. This also helps the economy, which it’s claimed is up to 64.2mpg.
2.0 TDI 190
We haven’t tried this engine in the VW Touran, but we know from experience of it in other Volkswagen products that it delivers very strong performance. However, it’s only available in very high trim levels on the Touran. It’s really not worth the high cost over the 2.0 TDI 150, which feels similarly punchy in real-world use.
1.2 TSI 110
This is a smooth revving and refined engine, but that’s slightly undone by the fact it can feel underpowered, forcing you to rev it hard to keep up with faster traffic – particularly if you have a car full of passengers. This is less of an issue for slower-speed city driving.
1.4 TSI 150
We haven’t tried this engine in the VW Touran, but we know from experience of it in other Volkswagen products that it delivers great refinement and performance, and decent real-world economy. However, it’s only available in higher trims, which makes it very expensive.