The VW Touran gets a dynamic makeover

Volkswagen’s new Touran is one of the most powerful and practical compact multi-purpose vehicles on the market

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 June, 2016, 6:07pm
UPDATED : Friday, 03 June, 2016, 6:24pm

The Volkswagen Touran has everything a compact multi-purpose vehicle needs to be popular in Hong Kong, where the MPV market is dominated by Japanese marques. The German-made seven-seater comes standard with a range of comprehensive safety features, excellent practicality, a top-notch drivetrain for its class and a competitive price tag.

It is the most popular vehicle in its class in Germany, where VW had produced 1.9 million Tourans since the model’s emergence in 2003. Sales in Asia, however, have not measured up.

VW Hong Kong knows that to compete against established segment leaders, it takes more than just a large number of air bags to grab customers’ attention, so the latest Touran has been given a new suffix. Whereas the 1.4 TSI in the vehicle’s name used in other markets indicates the engine displacement, Hong Kong and Taiwan get the “torque-based” 280 TSI suffix. This points to its “turbo stratified injection” engine with a torque range of 250 to 299 Newton metres (Nm), VW says. Also bear in mind that the number eight is considered auspicious in Chinese culture.

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The Touran 280 TSI’s engine produces 150 horsepower and is mated to an automatic seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, driving the front wheels. It can accelerate to 100 km/h from a stop in 8.9 seconds. This means the vehicle is more powerful than most of its rivals, apart from the BMW 220 Grand Tourer, and VW Hong Kong is positioning it as a dynamic MPV. The first image that pops up on the Touran’s webpage shows a young man wearing a racing-car driver’s suit standing next to the vehicle.

The Touran feels sure-footed, comfortable and predictable, if you treat it like a family car

Although VW’s official line is that the new Touran has had a distinctive sporty makeover, many distributors in Europe seem to be promoting it first and foremost as a family car.

The smooth seven-speed dual clutch transmission offers a choice of two modes. In D mode, the gearbox has a habit of trying to break the world speed record in getting to seventh gear. Any initiative to overtake a heavy vehicle or a bus will not be as swift as you may wish. For one thing, the engine’s peak torque starts as low as 1,500 revs per minute (rpm). If you are in a rush, select S mode and this gives the Touran a gentle push. In fact, by maintaining an engine speed of above 2,000 rpm, S mode offers much better responsiveness, as the new Touran’s superior power is unleashed. By comparison, almost compact MPVs with a naturally aspirated two-litre or smaller engine will feel sluggish. Like most small engines, the 1.4-litre TSI sounds stretched and noisy.

The new Touran performs better than other compact MPVs, on the whole, and is on a par with the Ford Grand C-Max in the same price range. It also has ideal handling characteristics to match its engine output. The Touran feels sure-footed, comfortable and predictable, if you treat it like a family car.

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In Hong Kong, there are two trim levels for the new Touran – Life and Luxury. The latter (HK$284,980 including the first registration tax; HK$25,000 costlier than the Life trim) was the one we took on a test drive.

The Luxury trim comes with extras including three-zone automatic air conditioning, a panoramic glass roof, a bigger, 6.5-inch touch-screen monitor with Bluetooth interface and an eight-speaker audio system. For an additional HK$15,000, customers get a leather package, including power driver’s seat, heated front seats and a power tailgate, in addition to, of course, leather seat covers.

The cabin of the new Touran is well put together and the switches are easy to use. The dash-mounted touch-screen monitor has controls for the audio system and little else. There are no fancy materials here, unless you count the piano-black decorative inserts and LED reading lights.

A big advantage of the Touran is that the interior is highly configurable. For example, all the seats are individual units. The second-row seats can be moved forwards, providing flexibility of the luggage compartment. Their backs can be folded flat so that the Touran can even feasibly be used as a goods minivan.

In terms of configuration and adaptability, there are as many as 47 possible compartments provided in the vehicle. Is that a geometric puzzle?