|Photos by Ulysses Ang|
A walk around the Touran reveals its clean-cut and understated design. It carries the very same Volkswagen family look seen of late, but toned down further; especially in the demo unit’s Midnight Blue color. There’s absolutely no frivolous design element outside, well perhaps except for the chrome work on the grille and the standard 16-inch “Davos” alloys. But go into the details and you’ll start to appreciate the precision work done to the Touran. The heavy doors close with an authoritative “thud” while the paintwork is sublimely consistent from panel to panel. There are also some distinct details such as the side mirror turn repeaters that light up on both sides of the mirror housing and the complex-looking headlamp and tail lamp clusters. Indeed, the Touran’s exterior beauty is in its details.
Inside, the Touran’s understated execution continues. A passing glance will likely make you dismiss it as a bare-looking car; especially true since the interior’s all-black. But sit in the driver’s seat or any seat for some time and you’ll begin to appreciate the Touran more and more. There are no cheap plastics; everything is soft to the touch and finished excellently. The dashboard, the center console, the door panels—they all exude a high-quality feel. Like its exterior, the Touran scores no points for interior design, but everything works very well with excellent ergonomics and precise controls.
The seating positions is typical MPV which means it’s a bit raised compared to that of a compact sedan, but lower than that of a crossover. The steering wheel adjusts for tilt and reach while the driver’s seat moves six ways, but the recline knob control, a Volkswagen trademark, is a love-it-or-hate-it affair. Given that the second and third row seats have to sit five more adults, the comfort is a bit compromised. Those in the second row still have supportive seats with adjustable headrests, but the cushion length is a bit lacking meaning those requiring good thigh support will find long travels on the uncomfortable side. Meanwhile, the third row is clearly designed as jump seats with its thin cushion and knees-up seating. That said, given most families will use only the first two rows of seats, the Touran is more than comfortable enough for city driving.
While the Touran feels a bit compromised in terms of seat comfort, there’s no denying that it’s the king of hauling. There is ample storage scattered through the Touran including a large overhead roof console for the front row. The second row reclines, folds, and slides in three while the third row folds flat in two creating more than 500 seat combinations. With 121 liters of luggage space with all seats up, the Touran can expand almost magically to 1,989 liters with the second and third row seats folded. It must be noted though that to make all that space, the Touran ditches the spare tire. It only has an air pump and a can of sealant in case of emergencies.
Seating configurations aside, what really sets the Touran apart from the sea of MPVs is its surprisingly good road manners. From the get-go, the Touran immediately feels sophisticated. Twist the 2.0-liter TDI engine to life, and you’ll be amazed at how quiet it sounds. There’s almost no diesel clatter inside or out, something that can’t be said with some German cars at twice or thrice the Touran’s price. Slot the gearbox into ‘D’ and gingerly press the throttle and the Touran moves with immediateness thanks to the six-speed DSG (dual-clutch) gearbox. With only 110 horsepower on tap, the Touran may seem underpowered on paper. In reality though, the gearbox works wonders to keep the engine in the optimum making the Touran surprisingly lively to drive. Plus, the gearbox is well-engineered with none of the usual problems commonly associated with dual-clutch gearboxes such as lurching or gear hunting. This makes the Touran an absolute joy to drive even in stop-and-go traffic. And speaking of traffic, despite not being equipped with Volkswagen’s BlueMotion technology (idle start/stop, low rolling resistance tires, etc.), the Touran still manages 10.10 km/L in pure city traffic.
Don’t let the Touran’s boxy looks fool you either: this MPV loves corners. Underneath is a well-tuned all-around independent suspension with double wishbones in front and multi-links at the back. Yes Manila, the Touran’s got the same suspension as the Mark VI Golf, so you know where it got its driving genes. The overall experience is a nice balance between handling and comfort. The electric power steering is light, but responsive. The chassis absorbs all sorts of ruts, bumps, and potholes while remaining lively and entertaining through corners. The body feels rigid with absolutely no wiggles or rattles. It’s mighty quiet too with road, tire, and wind noise kept to a minimum even at speeds past 100 km/h. Perhaps the only limiting factor to the Touran’s driving fun is its higher center of gravity (again, it’s a vertically stretched Golf) and the less than stellar front three-quarters visibility with the A-pillars always getting in the way.
Now comes the hard part: the price. At P 1,775,000, it’s easy to see why a lot of people are turned off by the pint-sized Touran. It doesn’t help too that it doesn’t dig deep in terms of luxury features. Or does it? Aside from the obvious absence of leather seats and a sunroof, everything you could wish for in an MPV is standard: automatic headlights with daytime running lights, front and fog lamps, privacy glass, power folding mirrors, parking sensors, a good sound system with USB input and 8 speakers, and a multi-function computer. Even in terms of safety, the Touran’s got it all: 6 airbags, anti-lock brakes, and stability control. In fact, it’s got everything you need in an MPV.
On the surface, the Volkswagen Touran may seem too small, too simple, too bare—but these adjectives clearly fit only the misinformed. Dig deeper and you’ll find a sophisticated MPV that handles beautifully, swallows seven without taking up a huge footprint, and loaded with features you’ll actually need. Yes, the Touran may not be as spacious as other larger MPVs and may lack leather seats, but it’s designed and engineered where it counts. That single reason alone is why you should show some love to the Touran. After all, it’s the MPV for car enthusiasts.
2014 Volkswagen Touran 2.0 TDI
|Ownership||2.0 TDI ComfortLine|
|Vehicle Classification||Luxury MPV|
|Body Type||5-door MPV|
|Engine / Drive||F/F|
|Under the Hood|
|Layout / # of Cylinders||Inline 4|
|BHP @ rpm||110 @ 2,750-4,200|
|Nm @ rpm||280 @ 1,750-2,750|
|Fuel / Min. Octane||Diesel|
|Dimensions and Weights|
|Curb Weight (kg)||1,582|
|Suspension and Tires|
|Front Suspension||Independent, Double Wishbone|
|Rear Suspension||Independent, Double Wishbone|
|Front Brakes||Vented Disc|
|Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS)||Yes|
|Traction / Stability Control||Yes|
|Fog Lamps||Front, Rear|
|Steering Wheel Adjustment||Tilt/Telescopic|
|Steering Wheel Material||Leather|
|Folding Rear Seat||Yes, 30/40/30 (2nd), 50/50 (3rd)|
|Power Door Locks||Yes|
|No. of Speakers||8|
|Steering Wheel Controls||Yes|