Volkswagen Touran TDI: Finally, a feasible Cat A diesel MPV

Introduction

There are drivers who prefer zipping around in a comfortable sedan, and there’re those who prefer a more sportier and rugged feel in an SUV. There are also the family-oriented drivers who perhaps see the need for a bigger MPV for their grocery shopping, or even better, ferrying their kids around.

But then again, there’s this common grouse among MPV drivers that their workhorses are extremely thirsty. That’s perhaps true in the past, but with technological advance, these giants are becoming more fuel-efficient.

Especially when it comes in the diesel form.

Exterior

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The petrol-variant Volkswagen Touran TSI proved immensely popular when it was first launched back in 2010, even though most people tend to mix up the Touran with its bigger brother – the Sharan. Now, Volkswagen has introduced the new diesel variant to the Touran family – the 1.6 litre TDI.

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Like its petrol sibling, the Touran TDI appears the same like any othernormal MPV would on the roads – with a typical boxy, tall and stretched body. Standing at close to 1.7 metres high, the Touran TDI adopts a couple of designing lines from the more agile Golf.

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While the petrol variant offers the option of bi-xenon headlights to boost its aesthetics appeal, the TDI comes standard with halogen lamps. But the lighting package offered on the TDI doesn’t really lose out to the higher-optioned TSI, which includes a separate daytime running light system, and your standard “Leaving Home” feature.

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The Touran TDI runs on a striking set of 17 inch wheels, something which stands out from its toned-down body (I mean, how striking can an MPV get apart from its practicality of carrying huge loads?).

Interior

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This being a Volkswagen, you can pretty much be assured of quality finishes when you step into the cabin. It is perhaps one of the very few Category A COE MPVs available in the market, making it more attractive than ever.

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Up front, you get to enjoy decent music quality from Volkswagen’s RCD 510 infotainment system, similar to those found on the entry-level variants. The TDI doesn’t have the luxury of housing the higher end RNS 510 radio/navigation system, but the RCD 510 served me pretty well, proving its user-friendliness where everything is just at the tip of your fingers.

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Stretching close to 4.4 metres in length, the Touran TDI managed to fit a full load (and more!) comfortably during one of our drives. While two adults at the third-row seats may not be a fantastic idea, four in the middle row still worked out pretty comfortably.

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If you decide to save on the seats at the rear, lowering them gives you an increased boot space of 1,913 litres, enough to house the biggest of luggages and golf bags. And on an added note of innovativeness, Volkswagen offers you a small compartment just at the sill to store away the headrests of the third-row seats in the event that you decide to flatten them down – leaving you with a seamless flat surface.

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The Drive

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The 1,598 cc power plant under the hood of the TDI may not be the most responsive of Volkswagen’s vehicular range, but I dare say it impresses for a car its size and weight. It isn’t going to give you much of a head-start from the lights, but it handles extremely well in your day-to-day cruising and ferrying (of luggages and kids).

As usual, Volkswagen impresses in the torque department, and the Touran TDI does not lose out on this. While its horses at 105 may seem short of many Japanese sedans, the TDI puts out 250 Nm of torque, right at your foot from just 1,500 rpm.

MPVs, by nature, are not supposed to be race-able, not the kind where you plant your foot to the floor and expect an instantaneous response propelling you forward. That being said, the 250 Nm of torque available in the Touran TDI gets you to the 100 km/h mark at just short of 13 seconds. That taken into consideration, it might perhaps be a good idea to plan your overtaking on the expressways carefully before you push this workhorse.

But apart from these shortfalls, the Touran TDI handles impressively well in corners, maintaining its agility and comfortness, yet at the same time, living up to the name of the Golf-adapted chassis. The DSG gearbox swings gears up seamlessly, without any tinge of jerkiness or vibrations.

Conclusion

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Despite the past issues with Volkswagen’s DSG gearboxes, the brand still sells particularly well in the Singapore market. It is with no doubt that the Touran TDI might just shine brighter than ever for potential MPV owners, given its level of fuel-efficiency, power, handling, and most importantly, quality built.

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I like:

  • Impressive fuel economy as per all Volkswagen vehicles
  • Huge boot space for all your barang-barangs
  • Interior quality indeed lives up to a German’s reputation

I don’t like:

  • Overtaking in this MPV proves a little laggy
  • Options of the TDI are far less appealing than that of the TSI
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