I’VE always been left slightly cold by the Volkswagen Touran. Sure, it’s a neat and versatile mini-MPV, but the styling was too van-like to appeal to me.
Step forward Touran Mark II, and this one looks far better thanks to some styling revisions, most notably the adoption of the family face like the Eos.
In truth, the Touran needs it as this sector now has some seriously stylish alternatives.
With the sleek Ford S-MAX already on sale, and the eye-catching Citroën C4 Picasso due to arrive in January, this sector is now as much about looks as it is about family friendliness.
The new front end, incorporating redesigned light units and the adoption of the silver-framed grille from the Jetta, has softened the look considerably, while at the back are revised light units.
Inside, the changes are more subtle with new materials used and some silver detailing around the instrument dials.
But there is one feature under the skin which is all-new, and gives the Touran a unique selling point in the sector. It will be available with an option called Park-Assist which, as its name suggests, gives assistance with parking.
It uses sensors to determine if a space is big enough to allow a parallel park. Once it has decided there’s room, it uses parking sensors to steer the car into the space without any input from the driver through the wheel. All the driver has to do is control the accelerator and brake.
It should cost between £400-£500, and it works. You sit there while it eerily steers itself into the spot.
Elsewhere, Volkswagen has left well alone, which is fine as there was nothing wrong with the layout of the Touran’s cabin before – simple, logical with most dials and buttons positioned high up on the dashboard so drivers don’t have to take their eyes off the wheel for too long.
Also retained is the seven-seat layout, with the rearmost seats which collapse into the floor to create a flat load bay, unlike on the Continent where five seats are standard.
The Touran is available as a five-seater in the UK as a no-cost option and comes with more luggage space as the area where the seats fold down is used for storage, but the vast majority of sales are with the full complement of seats because the seven-seater models have a far better residual value prediction.
RVs for the new version have not been set yet, but in the previous generation a seven-seat version is worth three percentage points more after three years/60,000 miles as used buyers prefer to have the option of a more versatile interior.
Engine and trim levels carry over from the previous model, with S, SE and Sport versions available with a choice of six engines. There are two petrols – a 1.6-litre with 100bhp and the 1.4 TSI unit which uses a turbocharger and supercharger to produce 140bhp – and four diesels, 1.9-litre TDIs in 90 and 105bhp guises, the 2.0 TDI 140 and the range-topping TDI 170.
The DSG clutchless manual gearbox is available as an option on the TSI and 2.0 TDI models. A 2.0 TSI 170 may appear later next year, although less likely is a jacked-up version called the CrossTouran which, like its CrossGolf cousin, is only sold in mainland Europe.
Volkswagen predicts 87% of the 10,750 Tourans it expects to sell during 2007 will be diesels, with the 1.9 TDI 105 the most popular choice.
This is unsurprising, given the number of Tourans bought by fleets.
Last year Volkswagen sold nearly 13,000 Tourans in the UK, and fleet sales accounted for more than half of those. So far this year, Touran sales in the fleet sector are up by 13%.
Prices will be announced closer to the car’s UK launch in the middle of January, although expect the rises to be inflationary only, suggesting the revised Touran will cost a couple of hundred pounds more than the current level, ranging from £15,000 to £22,000.
Behind the wheel
ASIDE from the use of some higher grade materials, little has changed in the Touran’s cabin, and neither has the driving experience.
As befits a vehicle of this type, it majors on function over flair. The steering is over-light and there is little in the way of feel from the pedals or gearbox.
But, to be honest, who cares? What fleet managers need to know is that driving the Touran is simplicity itself, everything working in a logical way, making for stress-free family motoring.
There’s an engine to suit all needs, with the biggest-seller, the 1.9 TDI 105, offering a decent mix of performance and economy.
The 2.0 TDI 170 is probably one step too far for most fleet needs, but the familiar 2.0 TDI 140 unit is strong, refined and offers decent real-world operating economy.
THE facelift disguises the Touran’s boxy look well, while the addition of ParkAssist gives it a USP for fleet managers tired of repairing parking dings. With a wide range of engines there’s a model to suit most needs, although it still lacks the visual flair of its newer rivals.
|Model:||1.6||1.4 TSI||1.9 TDI 90||1.9 TDI 105||2.0 TDI 140||2.0 TDI 170|
|Max power (bhp/rpm):||100/5,600||140/5,600||90/4,000||105/4,000||140/4,000||170/4,200|
|Max torque (lb-ft/rpm):||109/3,800||162/1,500||155/1,800||185/1,900||236/1,750||258/1,750|
|Max speed (mph):||111||124||106||111||124||133|
|Fuel consumption (mpg):||34.9||38.1||47.1||47.9||47.1||42.8|
|CO2 emissions (g/km):||193||176||158||156||159||174|