THE Volkswagen Touran TDI is one of those rare cars that manages to squeeze in the maximum number of seats in a compact body with an engine to match. The Touran multi-purpose vehicle has three rows of seats and a new 1.6-litre turbodiesel engine that is below 1,600cc and 130 hp, thus making it the only German seven-seater model in COE Category A.
The Touran is based on a stretched version of the previous Golf hatchback's platform but with a compact MPV body. The boxy interior is, as expected, versatile - the three rows of seats can be configured for maximum comfort or load capacity.
Folding tables are attached to the front seatbacks. Or the second row seats can be folded flat to allow them to be used as a table for the rear seat passengers. The second row seats also slide and recline individually, or can be removed completely. As for the third row, it comprises a pair of single seats which can be folded independently into the floor. Because the Touran is an MPV, the driver and occupants sit relatively higher than in a Golf hatchback. Driving the front wheels of this Touran TDI is a 1,598cc diesel engine producing 105 hp and 250 Nm.
Transmitting the power to the front axles is VW's ubiquitous dry-clutch seven-speed DSG direct shift gearbox. This dual clutch transmission offers crisp gear changes, either automatically or manually using the gear lever or steering wheel-mounted shift paddles. With a healthy amount of low-end torque, the Touran TDI is always enthusiastic despite the engine size. Its elasticity is especially impressive. At the same time, it is also economical, consuming just 4.6 litres of fuel per 100 km under the combined cycle, or almost 22 km per litre.
But, perhaps the nicest thing about the Touran is its handling. Unlike the new Golf whose lightweight construction is based on the Volkswagen Group's new MQB modular architecture, the Touran still uses the old platform. This means the controls have a nice weight to them and the car feels solidly planted. Throw it into a fast corner and the Touran heaves rather than leaps into it. But that is not a bad thing because it also feels more involving.
In fact, it seems almost old school compared with the new range of VW Group products. But because it is also reassuringly familiar, it makes the Touran TDI a very nice drive for an MPV.
Volkswagen Touran TDI
Engine 1,598cc turbodiesel
Gearbox 7-speed dual clutch transmission
Max power 105 hp @ 4,400 rpm
Max torque 250 Nm @ 1,500-2,500 rpm
0-100 kmh 12.8 secs
Top speed 183 kmh
CO2 emissions 121 g/km
Average OMV $25,500
Price $149,800 (with COE)
Distributor Volkswagen Group Singapore
Tel 6474 8288