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Tour de force
THE new Volkswagen Touran may look a lot like the VW Sportsvan but that's not necessarily a bad thing.
Where once the Touran was a stubby-looking, multi-purpose vehicle, the new model has been lengthened for a sharper and less mundane profile.
At a glance, the seven-seat MPV could pass for a Sportsvan - a Golf which has been stretched and raised - but there are distinct differences.
For one, the second-generation Touran is immediately identifiable by the deep tornado line chiselled into the doors. Also, the Touran is bigger.
Compared with its predecessor, the 4,527 mm Touran is longer and wider but marginally lower with a longer wheelbase. Built on VW's modular architecture platform, the wheelbase of the compact Touran MPV is identical to that of the mid-sized Passat sedan - 2,791 mm, or a sizeable increase of 113 mm.
This translates into better legroom for the second row seats - up 40 mm - while the three individual centre row seats can now slide forward/backward a total of 200 mm.
More importantly, third row legroom is also enhanced - by 54 mm. In the first-generation Touran, the last row was strictly reserved for children. Now, if a pair of average-sized adults were forced to sit there, at least it will be bearable.
Tipping the second row seat forward for access into the third row is a convenient single-handed operation.
But perhaps the best part about the rear seats is that the two rows now fold flat into the floor.
When the third row is not in use, a privacy cover can be mounted to keep luggage and other belongings out of sight. If required, the retractable cover can be stored away neatly in its own underfloor compartment.
Overall, cabin space is a big improvement, with increased headroom for all. But the interior also has two more important enhancements.
The first is the number of storage compartments - a remarkable 47.
The second takes less time to verify - the quality of the materials used. The soft-touch dashtop looks and feels more upscale, with chrome trimmings that actually don't look faux. An in-dash CD player to complement the centre touchscreen is now positioned neatly behind a flip-up panel above the glove compartment.
The electronic parking brake is also new and frees up space on the lower centre console for large twin-cup holders.
Under the bonnet is VW's trusty 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine. This COE Category B unit drives the front wheels through a seven-speed DSG Direct Shift Gearbox. The gear lever can be used to change gears manually; there are no steering wheel-mounted paddles.
But with turbo lag and the Touran weighing in at 1,478 kg, the 250 Nm of torque available means Sport mode should be engaged for optimum performance.
Handling is generally adequate, with well-tuned suspension for respectable body control, despite the Touran driver sitting high - about 150 mm more than in a Golf hatchback.
As a family wagon that is bigger than a Sportsvan but no less sportier, the Touran is suitably versatile.
Engine: 1,395cc inline-4 turbocharged
Gearbox: 7-speed dual-clutch DSG transmission
Max power: 150 hp @ 5,000- 6,000 rpm
Max torque: 250 Nm @ 1,500- 3,500 rpm
0-100 kmh: 8.9 secs
Top speed: 209 kmh
CO2 emissions: 129 g/km
Average OMV: S$23,000
Price from: S$138,900 (with COE)
Distributor: Volkswagen Group Singapore