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2004 VW Touran review. Image by James Jenkins.

2004 VW Touran review
Since the inception of the mini-MPV in the late nineties virtually every mass-market contender has pitched in with their own model. VW's effort, the Touran, was shown almost two years ago at the Geneva show and went on sale in the UK the following August.

 



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Since the inception of the mini-MPV in the late nineties virtually every mass-market contender has pitched in with their own model. VW's effort, the Touran, was shown almost two years ago at the Geneva show and went on sale in the UK the following August. The mini-MPV market offers strong competition now with the Focus C-Max, Renault's Scenic and the Vauxhall Zafira being the pick of the bunch. VW is pitching the Touran as a premium offering with the equipment, quality and price reflecting this. We drove the 7-seat TDI Sport DSG version.

As is the norm with modern VWs the first impression is one of a quality product. Clean, classy external lines enclose an interior that sets class leading standards in terms of fit, finish and execution. The image enhancing 16-inch rims on our car are standard on the Sport and combine with the chromed roof rails to set off the Touran's fairly conventional shape. Cars like this can never really be seen as beautiful, but the Touran does look good.

The most important aspect of compact MPVs is the interior and here the Touran scores big points. A seven seat layout (effectively a 5+2 with the two rears folding cleverly into the boot floor to give a large flat load space) was fitted to the test car, though a pure five seat variant is an option at no extra cost. As you can see in the pictures the middle row of seats can also be removed completely. The Touran saw sterling service as a furniture transporter during its time with us. Adding to the practicality side of things are a total of no less than 39 storage spaces of various shapes and sizes including the air-conditioned glove box; 12v power supplies are also fitted for phones, computer games etc.

Equipment levels are high, as you'd expect on this range topper. Dual zone climate control, cruise control, multi-functional computer and a raft of safety features are the main items; the Sport also boasts a full leather interior with comfortable sports seats up front. All in all the car has everything you'd need in terms of useful features for moving people as comfortably as possible with the least pain and most efficiency.

Driving the Touran was never going to be a seat of the pants thrill ride but it makes a good fist of providing some entertainment and involvement. The elevated driving position is always a boon for driver and passengers alike giving a good view of the road ahead and scenery elsewhere. The excellent all-round visibility, and a footprint about the same as a Golf, makes the Touran easy to manoeuvre, but I'd still take the parking sensors at 255. Looking through two rows of heads when reversing isn't always easy!

The two-litre PD engine is ideal for the Touran, serving up 236lb.ft of torque low down at 1750rpm, just where you need it for lugging or towing. This engine makes for smooth and deceptively rapid progress and likes to rev as well pulling relatively cleanly to the red line, providing a rated power output of 140PS and a good spread of usable power across the speed range. It's an efficient unit as well as delivering a claimed 51mpg cruising economy figure; we averaged around 36mpg in our week of mixed driving. Only the refinement of the PD engine lags a little behind rivals, particularly from cold. The PD technology does give the engine a distinctive sound compared to others but it is coarser than the engines in the Scenic or C-Max, though you certainly couldn't call it loud. It does work very well in conjunction with the DSG 'box though.

In this context the DSG is an eerily smooth automatic that adds to the refined progress and marginally improves acceleration times. In fact it is preferable to a conventional auto', which is just as well as the more powerful Tourans don't have another automatic option. It also improves fuel consumption as it allows the PD engine to lug down low in the rev range and work in its optimum rev range for more of the time. Its sporting credentials are clear, and it is fun to knock the lever back and forth and chuckle at the throttle blips on down shifts and it provides a instant smooth shift at the red-line, but the Touran isn't the natural home for DSG in a pure driving sense. (We'll understand more of its role as a driver's friend when we drive the TT later in the year fitted with the same 'box). I found myself leaving it in automatic mode and riding the torque for the majority of the week.

All in all the Touran is packed full of clever, thoughtful features that ease day to day motoring and make it a really useful mode of transport for families or those who need that extra load space. A comfortable, refined cruiser, packed with kit and built to the usual high VW standard make it a pretty tough package to beat as a premium mini-MPV. Can Vauxhall's new Zafira, debuting at the 2005 Geneva Motor Show take the fight to it? We'll find out later this year. Watch out for that review in the main Road Tests page.

Dave Jenkins - 26 Feb 2005









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2004 Volkswagen Touran specifications: (2.0 Sport TDI 7-seat with DSG)
Price: 21,205 on-the-road. Test car was fitted with dash mounted CD changer (225), parking sensors (255), Xenon lights (725).
0-62mph: 10.3 seconds
Top speed: 122mph
Combined economy: 42.8mpg
Emissions: 178g/km
Kerb weight: 1595kg

Full technical specifications

2004 VW Touran. Image by James Jenkins.2004 VW Touran. Image by James Jenkins.2004 VW Touran. Image by James Jenkins.2004 VW Touran. Image by James Jenkins.2004 VW Touran. Image by James Jenkins.

2004 VW Touran. Image by James Jenkins.2004 VW Touran. Image by James Jenkins.2004 VW Touran. Image by James Jenkins.2004 VW Touran. Image by James Jenkins.2004 VW Touran. Image by James Jenkins.



2004 VW Touran. Image by James Jenkins.
 

2004 VW Touran. Image by James Jenkins.
 

2004 VW Touran. Image by James Jenkins.
 

2004 VW Touran. Image by James Jenkins.
 

2004 VW Touran. Image by James Jenkins.
 






 

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