Road test - Volkswagen Touran 1.4 TSI DSG Comfortline EQP (A)
Text by Desmond Chan, sgCarMart.
Photos by Low Fai Ming, sgCarMart.
1.9 million - that's the number of people that have bought a Volkswagen Touran since its inception in 2003. This Multi-Purpose Vehicle (MPV) has been a runaway success in Germany, and has proven to be very popular in Singapore as well.
This model you see is the all new second generation model, built on Volkswagen's scalable Modular Transverse Matrix (MQB) platform, which also underpins other models in the brand's lineup, including the Golf, the Passat, and the Tiguan. While it may not look drastically dissimilar from its predecessor, just about everything on the second generation model is new - from the engine to its seating system, and even the air-conditioning system.
It is almost 13 months ago to this day that we first experienced the new Touran in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Now, as it finally makes its way to our shores, it's time to find out how this ever-popular model fares on our roads.
One of the key benefits of the new MQB platform is that Volkswagen can now make the new Touran bigger (both length and width) while managing to shave 62kg of weight off. The wheelbase is now 113mm longer than before, which translates to more usable interior space.
Visually, the car retains the same overall shape of its predecessor, but is certainly much better-looking as a result of more chiselled lines. Once you look a little more closely, many of the new details begin to catch your eye. Among them, the head lights are now much sharper as they cut into the radiator grille while the roof line appears a tad sleeker as it tapers nicely off the edge.
However, the most notable difference is in the positioning of the car's shoulder line - in the old model, it's about level with the top of the wheels, which means a lot more of the car appears atop the line than beneath, creating an impression of height.
For the new car, its located much higher up, along the door handles. This creates a visual sense of girth and muscular presence, with more of the car underneath the sharp shoulder line.
As with all Volkswagens, you can expect the interior to be of high built quality, easy functionality and comfortable utility. The new Touran excels in this respect, of course - it is designed to be the quintessential people-carrier, after all. Materials are soft to the touch and the seats are all upholstered in leather.
From the driver's seat, all your necessary buttons are within reach, and the brand's steering-mounted buttons are idiot-proof. Look closely at the centre console and you can see the words 'Pure Air' - this is Volkswagen's new Pure Air Climatronic air-conditioning system that comes standard on the Touran, which has an active biogenic filter to keep the air fresh and free of pollutants.
Move to the rear, and the interior improvements become more evident. It is comfortable and spacious, with the third row usable for even mid-sized adults. The flip up trays for the second row passengers will appeal to parents - it can be locked at various angles, especially useful for the kids who are glued to their iPads.
The new MPV also features a new fold-flat seating system, which allows for an easily configurable cabin. The second and third row of seats can be folded flat. Pack to the brim, it will allow you to extend the luggage space to a whopping 1,857 litres. To put that in some kind of perspective, that roughly translates to 5,627 Coca-Cola cans.
Our test unit packs the Comfortline equipment level, complete with the additional equipment (EQP) package. This means that additional goodies include a panoramic sunroof and rear view camera, as well as four additional EQP package features - LED headlamps, keyless entry and starting, driving profile selection, and Front Assist.
The 1.4-litre TSI engine in the Touran is also newly-designed. Producing 148bhp and 250Nm of torque, it allows the car to sprint from 0-100km/h in just 8.9 seconds. We realise that while most Touran drivers have no interest in doing so, it's worth noting that the Touran is, on paper, faster than every other 1.4-litre models in the VW range less the Golf R-Line.
So, it is an engine that certainly has enough shove. Admittedly, at lower speeds, this may not initially feel like it. However, the car really begins to gather pace in second to third gear, around 30km/h. When accelerating to 90km/h, it certainly feels more effortless compared to perhaps the Golf Variant or the Sportsvan (both of which we also drove on the same day). There's more usable torque between 2,000rpm to 3,000rpm, and despite the Touran's size, the engine pulls the car along with languid ease.
During normal, sensible driving (which is arguably how the Touran should be driven 100 percent of the time), the car is comfortable and forgiving. The suspension soaks up any bumps with ease, power is readily accessible from your right foot, and the seven-speed DSG gearbox shifts seamlessly. All around vision is good, and because the steering is calm and relatively light, it feels easy to negotiate even in terrible traffic.
Throw the car around a couple of corners, and you will realise that the Touran hasn't been designed to do that. While it certainly manages to remain planted, you do feel a distinct amount of body roll, and there is a tendency for you to slide around in your seat. It's somewhat odd - you can feel the MQB platform doing its job of keeping the four wheels planted to the ground, but the body that sits atop the platform is one that will naturally give in to the laws of physics.
But as we mentioned earlier, this is a sensible people-carrier for sensible family adults who should have absolute no reason to go around any corners quickly. In this respect, it is quite excellent.
In the new Touran, there is an obvious deference towards practicality rather than prance-ability, and rightly so. This is a sensible, practical and highly-functional seven-seater MPV that will appeal to large and/or growing families. But beyond just its people-hauling capabilities, the ride quality and driving characteristics have been improved as well. In every way, this is a better car than before.
With the popularity of the previous generation model, we similarly expect to see many new Tourans on our roads soon. It wouldn't be surprising if that 1.9 million figure continues to grow significantly.
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