By the power of Volkswagen, I have been turned into Touran man.
My latest transport is a versatile seven-seat small MPV with an endless supply of cubby holes and ingenious storage devices. Bliss. No really.
Touran man isn’t a figment of my imagination. He exists in every office. It’s the guy (or girl) with the young family, leading a full life with an empty wallet.
He has swapped going places at weekends with his mates for going places with the kids and, as mine are old enough to want their friends with them, suddenly a traditional hatch becomes a compromise.
If you have two kids who each want to bring a friend along, suddenly your standard transport is deficient in the seating department to the tune of one.
Thankfully, with my new Touran I can accommodate all of the kids and their friends.
The new model has the fresh new face of Volkswagen at the front, including new-style lights, but from the engine compartment backwards, space and comfort is at a premium over style.
Passengers in the middle row of seats get airplane-style trays, complete with an inadequate hole for a drink, set into the front driver and passenger seats. They can also recline and slide each seat individually. Folding the seats forward is as simple as pushing a button. You can remove them easily, too.
It’s the same in the boot where the seats fold flat at the push of a button, although it helps to remove the standard headrests.
Space in the middle row is excellent, but the third row is a more suitable home for small people, rather than fully-grown adults. However, you could squeeze a couple in if needed on a night out.
In the front seats, drivers used to Volkswagen interiors won’t find any surprises as it is based on the three Ss: sombre, sensible and solid.
The whole thing is lifted by the addition of a DVD touch-screen satellite navigation/radio system and six-CD autochanger, which costs £1,445.
It also adds a 30GB hard drive, SD card reader, MP3, WMA and DVD video data files compatibility, and an aux-in socket for connection to external multimedia sources.
In short, an entertainment system for kids who understand these things.
But one of the interesting parts of the car is something you can’t see – the engine.
Engine size envy will become a thing of the past in a few years, as carmakers offer more power per cc than ever before.
So despite offering nearly 140bhp, our Touran displaces just 1.4 litres and uses both a supercharger and a turbocharger. It’s an award-winning design that offers 162lb-ft of torque from 1,500rpm, a power band that spreads over nearly 6,000 revs, all with an average fuel economy figure of 38.2mpg.
I have tested the engine before in a Golf and it works perfectly, although there are the tiniest hesitations in power delivery in the unit we have on test.
Despite this, it’s a marvel, offering the power to easily lug four passengers and luggage yet still returning 45mpg during a series of recent motorway runs.
Is it good enough to knock diesel off its perch? Well, it all depends on real-world experiences.
Company car tax is 22% for the petrol and 21% for the 1.9 diesel. Residual values are pretty much the same and fuel economy is reaching diesel levels in pence per mile terms.
The picture should become much clearer over the next few thousand miles, but my initial estimates suggest the petrol might come out the winner.
However, the real winners here are my family.
The Touran has already been chalked up as a favourite by the Maslen family for a wealth of reasons, from the badge on the front to the number of seats and even the overhead storage bins.
Touran man has arrived and, according to my family, he’s a hero.
The manufacturer’s view
The Touran has established itself as a firm favourite with UK buyers, popularity which we expect to be sustained in 2007 with the introduction of a series of subtle but effective revisions.
Last year more than 11,500 Tourans were sold in the UK alone.
It’s a tremendously versatile vehicle that combines the inherent strength of Volkswagen products with the flexibility of seven seats and the option of advanced new technologies such as the ParkAssist self-parking system and the latest range of petrol TSI and diesel TDI engines.
Vince Kinner, head of fleet services, Volkswagen UK
Equipment and options
Price (OTR): £18,262
Price as tested: £20,147
Price (OTR): £18,262 (£20,147 as tested)
Company car tax bill (2007) 22% tax-payer: £73 per month
Insurance group: 9
Combined mpg: 38.2
Test mpg: 40.0
CAP Monitor RV: £6,800/37%
Contract hire rate: £366
Expenditure to date: Nil
Figures based on three years/60,000 miles