CAR DESIGNERS tie themselves in knots sometimes trying to create a people-carrier that looks like a saloon or a coupe or an SUV. Anything other than a people-carrier.
Why? Well, people carriers are regarded by some as boring, uninspiring cars and while many people buy them, none really want them.
But at Volkswagen they do things differently. You want a compact people-carrier? Try the Touran.
If it looks ordinary and boxy, that’s because it is. If you want a hatchback, try a Polo or a Golf. If you want a hot coupe, look at Scirocco.
But if you want a no-nonsense people-carrier, then the Touran will do the job without trying to pretend it’s something else.
That’s comes from VW’s confidence because it is a company that knows it makes good cars which do a proper job.
So is Touran boring? Well. It might look understated and unfashionable but that’s deliberate. Volkswagen don’t worry too much about mode and fashion, preferring to build cars which won’t date overnight.
Touran might not make you fizz but it will do everything you ask of it and more.
The test model costs £27,000 which is at the upper end of the market. Touran starts at £22,795, which is still expensive, but you do get a lot of solid car for the money.
It’s big: it seats five people in spacious comfort, or seven if you use the seats in the boot, and the luggage bay holds 917 litres rising to 1,857 with the middle row of seats folded.
Yet it looks neat and compact and, importantly, it rides and handles brilliantly, much more like a car than you could ever imagine. The engine is smooth and the gear-change cannot be bettered.
If the exterior is unfussy and businesslike, then the same theme follows inside. The cabin won’t thrill you but you will find it ever so easy to navigate.
Tested here is the SE Family model which is well-equipped: anti-lock brakes, stability control, traction and handling systems, automatic braking after a crash, adaptive cruise control, air conditioning and stop-start functiom, which is smoother than similar systems on rival models.
Touran is the first people-carrier to be based on a new platform created by the Volkswagen group. It means the vehicle is longer and has a greater wheelbase, creating more space inside and a better ride.
But despite the increase in size, it is considerably lighter which makes for ride, handling and economy improvements.
The new fold-flat seat system in five-seater or seven-seater versions is impressive. It means it is highly versatile and extremely easy to configure.
It is also an easy car to live with. It has 47 storage compartments and a new Pure Air Climatronic system which makes the car exceptionally practical.
Tourans, like many cars, are better connected to the internet than ever before. This model comes with a new spectrum of systems such as MirrorLink, CarPlay (Apple) and Android Auto (Google) featured for first time.
And it boasts the biggest range of assistance and comfort systems in its class.
In short, it won’t let you down. There are flashier and sexy people-carriers and there are certainly cheaper alternatives. But Touran is a sublime model for the serious motorist.
Volkswagen Touran SE Family 1.6 TDI
THE CAR FACTS
Price: £27,270 on the road.
Engine: A 1,598cc four-cylinder diesel engine
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Top speed: 118mph
0-62mph: 11.4 seconds
Economy: 61.4mpg combined
CO2 emissions: 119g/km
Insurance: Group 12E
Warranty: Three years, 60,000 miles
Summary: A wonderful, easy to drive capacious people-carrier which is fun to drive if a little expensive
Citroen C4 Picasso: Reasonably priced, well thought out and spacious. Much fussier in appearance than Touran.
Ford Grand C-Max: Cheaper, smaller and not as well kitted out. A decent alternative but not really a match for Touran.
BMW 2 Series Grand Tourer: A premium product and well worth considering. It has space, great BMW style and value.