Car Test   R0349
 
July 2003
First Drive Volkswagen Touran
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When VW, Ford and Seat decided to challenge Renault’s dominance in the larger MPV market sector, they went in together, with Sharan/Galaxy/Alhambra emerging with few differences – and mainly VW engines underbonnet. No such co-operation this time, however; the Ford C-Max, in fact, relies on Peugeot-Citroën diesels, while VW has used the launch of this Touran as the debut of its own new-generation of 16-valve diesel engines. We shall see this power unit in the new Golf soon, and the Touran shares both that car’s chassis platform and independent rear suspension, as well.
  
   The Touran’s most significant body feature – its pair of (third-row) foldaway seats – aligns it with the Zafira, however; the Ford emerges as a five-seater only. In fact, these seats can only be used on an occasional (or child) basis, but they’re available on all Tourans for £500 extra. Their clever foldaway potential leaves the fully restored load deck virtually unsullied, except for seat-top latching pins that are left intruding into the luggage width.
  
   Their only other demerit is that they stow where the five-seater’s spare wheel is housed, so the seven-seater has an aerosol repair/inflation kit instead.
  
   Moving forward, the seats in the centre row of three, prove comfortable in use, with perfectly adequate legroom in their most forward position (for maximum load deck length); they have notched sliding runners and backrest rake adjustment (unlike the C-Max), and the centre seat can serve as a table-top, or be removed to allow the outer pair to use its mounts and be repositioned inwards.
  
   Yes, you do have to remove any or all three to achieve maximum cargo-space, but, like the latest Scenic, this Touran does its best to make the job less of a chore, with carry-handles and automatic relatching. Other neat rear compartment details include picnic tables on front seatbacks, well-sited footwell and face-level vents, under-floor stowage boxes and a cushion height that ensures a good view, but isn’t too high for the less agile.
  
   Same story up front – especially in the SE with lumbar and height adjusters to complement the steering wheel reach/rake. Oddly, there’s less space beside the 1.6 petrol version’s clutch, for an idle left foot, than in the diesel’, but all have “knife-through-butter" six-speed gearshifts and are very pleasant to control, with only minor irritations (see Likes and Gripes).
  
   The steering feels very linear and progressive in its response, benefiting undoubtedly from the directional precision available from the new, fully independent rear suspension. The ride can feel rather jittery on broken surfaces, but the car always holds a steady course – and remember, we sampled the cars unladen.
  
   We were expecting a lot from both the new engines – petrol direct-injection and diesel. Yet it was the carried-over 100bhp diesel that satisfied us most. The problem is noise, a distinct mechanical coarseness that afflicts the ears when cruising speed on the tacho rises to 2500rpm. Below this, the 1.6FSi is purring but gutless and the 2.0 diesel, although smoother than some, lacks the ultimate responsiveness and velvet touch of its Peugeot counterpart in the C-Max. We expect more.
  
AT A GLANCE
  considering size, price and rivals
Controls/displays
Handling/steering
Comfort
Space/practicality
Safety Euro NCAP
Security, theft of
theft from
LIKES ...
  • passenger's airbag deactivation switch with lamp
  • every oddments' receptacle soft-lined'
  • two-height tailgate opening
  • three-pulse indicator lane-change position
  • 'intelligent' wiper parking prevents blade warp
and GRIPES
  • thick screen pillars block driver's view
  • some warning lamps much too dim
  • no front seat lumbar/height adjusters on S
  • no door sill protection - just paint
  • no spare wheel on seven-seater
  • display lighting sexy, but not always effective
VERDICT
Whereas the new Ford’s interior furniture didn’t impress us as much as its road and mechanical manners, we find ourselves feeling just the opposite about the Touran. It doesn’t come cheap, either, so one has the right to expect the best. Perhaps it would have been better, after all, if Ford and VW could have got together, because their individual efforts both leave something to be desired.


THE TOURAN RANGE
size and type lower-medium, multi-purpose vehicle (MPV)   trim levels S, SE. Sport
engines petrol: 4 cylinder/1.6 litre/102bhp (direct-injection FSi version 115bhp), 4/2.0Di/150
diesel: 4/1.9/100, 4/2.0/136
  drive front-wheel drive, 6-speed manual standard on all (petrol and diesel) direct-injection versions; 5-speed on base 1.6. 6-speed stepped automatic optional extra on 1.6 FSi
notable features available foldable, third-row seating option; comprehensive standard safety features include stability, traction and anti-lock controls; alarm standard on SE/Sport; semi-automatic air-con standard - dual zone climate control on Sport; most models use six-speed gearboxes


SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
  in centimetres (5-door MPV - 5 seats)
  outside
  length 439
  width - including mirrors 205
    - mirrors folded 190
  height (with roof bars) 164
  load sill height (inside/outside) 0/60
  steering
  turns lock-to-lock 3.0
  turning circle (metres) 11.2
   
  easy to park/garage?
  inside
  front - legroom 84-107
    - headroom 99-105§
  rear - typical legroom 93-105#
    - typical kneeroom 60-75#
    - headroom 98§
    - hiproom 136
  load area(all seats in use)
  load space
(litres/cu ft)
578/493:/:20.4/17.4#
  load length 89-134+
  load length to facia 264
  load width 105-129
  load height (to shelf/to top of aperture) 51/88
# rear seat forwards/rearwards  § no sunroof  + rear seat folded (167 seat removed)
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