The Volkswagen Touran is not a new car. It was actually launched a whole decade ago, as then-VW boss Bernd Pischetsrieder filled glaring gaps in the range.
It was a model arguably developed in a hurry, yet has remained a mainstay of the range ever since.
The one I’m testing right now feels its age. Not in a glaring way – there are no major flaws and in some ways it can still teach newer models a thing or two. But the clues are there…
Pedal position, for example. Compact MPVs used to be compromised here (if you’ve driven an original Vauxhall Zafira, you’ll know what I mean; think buses…). The Touran is duly compromised, by pedals that are simply too close even with the seat right back. You feel this the instant you step in.
The dash too, despite a heavy facelift in 2010, also looks aged-era VW. It was never the most stylish thing and it’s really feeling its age these days.
It also doesn’t have the feeling of no-expense-spared detail engineering models such as the Mk4 and Mk5 Golf exhibited in spades. SoMany plastics are hard and scratchy, there’s no nice soft-touch covering on the doorhandles and the electric windows switches lack a fancy covering too.
The little touches that made, say, a Golf Mk6 feel so incredibly rich simply aren’t there.
Touran: it still can
But in other ways, it’s excellent. Refinement is superb, for example, even at motorway speeds. The 1.6 Bluemotion Tech diesel is just as good here as in other applications. The ride’s pretty good too.
And it passes the family test, to which I spent the Bank Holiday weekend challenging it to, with aplomb. Huge boot, low sill, high seats, plenty of stowage, big windows, great visibility. This isn’t a stylish machine by any means, but it’s a great working tool that does what it says on the tin really, really well.
It’s green, too. I had it out to test the new eco-biased model and struggled to get it below 60mpg. Fast motorway cruising, fully-laden family driving, the lot. The eco bit certainly works.
And, you know what? Sitting high up in a cabin flooded with light, rolling along effortlessly, family all perfectly content, I suddenly saw the appeal of the Touran. Big, boxy, hardly the newest thing on the block, but still a jolly good family car if that’s your sort of thing.
Bernd may not have been at VW all that long, but some of the products he created while there certainly have the right sort of staying power.