Top of the World

10 Jul 2015

Text by Julian Kho, sgCarMart. Photos by Volkswagen. Direct from Amsterdam, Netherlands.

By sharing the highly versatile MQB platform with the capable Golf and Passat siblings, the Touran rises above its peers.

Don't be fooled by the familiar looks of the spanking new Volkswagen Touran. It may appear a lot like its predecessor, which we tried in early 2013, but the truth is that everything about the third generation model that you see here has changed in one way or the other. That even includes the fact that the Multi-Purpose Vehicle (MPV) is now based on the rapidly proliferating, scalable MQB platform, which underpins the extremely successful Golf, Passat and many others under the Volkswagen Group.

 

If we have to vomit out a statistic that will immediately sum up the success of this vehicle, it'll be 1.9 million. That's the number of people who have bought the Touran since its launch in 2003, which clearly makes this one of the most popular MPVs in its segment and an extremely important car for Volkswagen.


Exterior

At 4,527mm long, 1,829mm wide and 1,659mm tall, the Touran has grown bigger without coming across as bulky. In fact, being underpinned by the MQB platform has allowed designers to make the Touran 130mm longer than its predecessor and yet managed to shave off 62kg of fats.

Predictably, the styling resembles closely to that of the Golf, albeit in a blown up sheet metal. While it looked rather bland in the past, the MPV is now sharper and more modern-looking, with a bold shoulder line stretching from the A-pillar right through to the C-pillar.

Other visible changes include an overall sharper and tapered front bumper, the three-bar grille, sleeker headlamps and Golf-inspired taillights - all of which help to give the MPV the dynamism it has been lacking in the previous two models.

Of course, it's debatable when it comes to looks. But comparing this to peers like the Citroen C4 Picasso and the Peugeot 3008, it's clear and plain to see why we would prefer the Volkswagen Touran to the said two MPVs.


Interior

While changes to the sheet metal are more obvious than the interior, the cabin is where the Touran really counts. Materials used are up a couple of notches from its predecessor. You can also tell that a lot of thought has been put in to increase the level of comfort and convenience, which are the few main priorities of a people carrier.

Cubby holes are vastly available in here, including Sharan-inspired compartments above your head to place your sunglasses and other barang barang (this wasn't available in the previous model). The new frameless rearview mirror is also a classy touch. More relevantly, legroom has increased for rear passengers, thanks to the increment of 63mm and 113mm in interior length and wheelbase respectively.

Fabric upholstery as well as a powerful air-conditioning unit in our test car certainly came in handy in cooling off our butts in the scorching weather in Amsterdam, although there's a very high possibility the benches will be upholstered in leather when the car arrives in Singapore early next year.

Impressively, our test car also came with MirrorLink capability with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for the first time, which makes it easy for passengers, both front or rear, to meddle with the infotainment system from the smartphone. That said, whether or not the Touran will be fitted with this differentiating feature when it arrives here is still not confirmed.

While there is no doubt that all these small changes do add up to something significant, Volkswagen has done well in ensuring that the Touran's ability to haul stuff is retained. This five-seater vehicle sports a generous area of 743 litres of luggage space - a significant 200 litres more than the Citroen C4 Picasso.


The Drive

After two days of driving the MPV, with a luggage-filled boot, on the highway as well as around the packed city of Amsterdam, you get the sentiment that the Touran feels more functional then fun.

But that doesn't mean it's a bad thing. The car rides well over bumps and humps and is capable of tackling corners with minimal roll, thanks to a calm and causal steering. You may not get the kind of feedback from, say, a BMW 2 Series Active Tourer but the Touran's steering manages to stay consistent and confident at all times.

Mated to a creamy seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, the 1.4-litre powerplant is a hardworking unit, pumping out some 150bhp and 250Nm of torque - 10 more horses and 30Nm more twisting force than the outgoing model. Every step of the right pedal sends the tacho needle punching through the revs and is thus very capable of keeping up with the fast-moving traffic on the highway.

More importantly, it's very refined at high speeds - something that's missing in most cars in this segment. Wind and road noise are kept to a minimum despite travelling at 130km/h and riding on biggish 18-inch wheels.

Although the dashboard isn't as low as the previous model, all round visibility remains to be good, which can be quite an important factor especially if a pint-sized driver like this storyteller has to navigate around a bicycle-friendly city.


Conclusion

The third generation Touran here has further catapulted Volkswagen's values of being the car for the people, with its practicality, humility and safety. It managed to touch the hearts of 1.9 million people because the previous models made absolute sense and this latest MPV is no exception.

Executed with such sound judgement in spaciousness, efficiency and refinement, the Touran is quite simply the family MPV you will ever need. There are some minor niggles, no doubt, but definitely no more than you'd expect from a carmaker that gave us iconic cars like the Golf and the Beetle.

Read the original article here.


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