Drive Test – VW Touran 1.4 TSI

Surprise package


Now a new VW Touran might not be just what you’ve been waiting to hear about… Then again perhaps it is. Either way, this one is a bit interesting by virtue of it having a Polo GTI engine beneath the hood!

All right so that’s a little bit of sensationalism right there. Although, technically, the 1.4-litre twincharged VW lump is the same at its core as the GTI unit, this one is still in a standard state of tune more consumption- than performance-oriented. Which makes a lot more sense after all in a car destined to be a hard-working family runabout and not some sort of fully-equipped trackday refugee.

Now if you’ve really lost all will to drive, you can get a Touran which will be even lighter on fuel – the new 1.2 TSI model. But this 1.4 provides a better balance between light fuel habits and at least some level of performance to pass the lorries labouring up the N3.


The new bodywork is – well no you could hardly call it shapely could you. It is a better sight than say those humdrum Toyota Avanzas that currently do this kind of duty, and a bit smoother and cleaner than its own forebear too. There’s nothing exactly astounding or revolutionary about it of course, the VW family face in the grille and then a square box for cramming people in behind that. Let’s just say it’s been done once or twice before.

Anyone remotely familiar with any VW family product is going to recognise the interior straight away as well. Our test car came with leather upholstery, but that adds a ludicrous R15K to an already pretty steep R299 900 price tag. It lifts the ambience of the interior nicely, yes, but I doubt I’d be willing to stump that kind of money up for a liberal smattering of dead cow. Still it’s not as bad as the satnav at R28K – how do these car companies think they’ll sell satnavs as optional extras at ten times the cost of a decent, non-fixed system?

Anyway, fire the little, quite heavily blown four-pot up and you’ll be surprised at the pleasant wee rasp that’s emitted. And when you get down to business with the effortless clutch and slick six-speed manual shifter, the feeling will continue to mount. Because this Touran drives a lot better than we expected it to, better than anyone beholding the bland body and cookie-cutter dashboard is likely to expect in fact.


Despite the tall side profile and titchy standard 16” wheels, the Touran 1.4 TSI handles very much like your regular Polo. You can chuck it into bends with gay abandon and it never feels like it’s about to topple over, and also manages to dig down to find pretty good traction for decent cornering speeds.

Again, despite the versatility, it isn’t all that heavy either, weighing in at just about 1500kgs. Which is good for both the handling and acceleration. Certainly the Touran isn’t a robot-robot GP champion, no, but the little motor delivers a healthy amount of shove throughout seemingly throughout the rev range thanks to its unique combination of blowers, and it puts its claimed 220Nm to good use.

On the economy front, VW of course claim a combined rating of just 6.8 l/100km, and for quite probably the first time ever we actually came pretty close to achieving that. All right, so we averaged just under 8 l/100km, but that’s still remarkably close to the usually drastically understated claimed average, and that’s with a fair deal of trademark driving exuberance to boot. You could probably get to that claim if you drive with a healthy dose more maturity than we do.


Typically, it’s the quality feel that shines through more than anything else. The Touran is impeccably engineered and put together to last, even In the face of daily trips with an entire U-13 soccer squad in situ. The motor is happiest loping along at low to medium revs so you don’t feel like you’re revving it to an early grave to go anywhere, and although the upright face lends itself to some wind noise the cabin insulation is decent so it doesn’t intrude.

That 1.4-litre TSI shines bright in this application. Sure to be overshadowed of course by the fire-breathing version in the fast Polo, but I feel it just fits a bit better with the Touran image. Hard-working and strong but always focussed on saving you money at the pumps, that’s sort of what the Touran is all about.

It is expensive at first purchase however. Sure for your R300K you’ll be getting a fine example of the best-made car in this class, but it’s still a healthy chunk of money to pay for something which by it’s very design is never meant to be emotionally moving or in any way loved. For a utilitarian people-moving appliance, albeit one which goes surprisingly well and has fuel consumption figures which are actually achievable in the real world.

Russell Bennett

Liked: Build quality

Little 1.4 TSI feels truly at home here

Nice manual shift

Achievable claimed economy

Disliked: Expensive list price and options

Not exactly what I’d call sexy, although then again it isn’t exactly meant to be

Drive stats: Volkswagen Touran 1.4 TSI

Engine: 1390cc turbocharged and supercharged four-cylinder petrol

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Power (kW) 103 @ 5600rpm

Torque (Nm) 220 @ 1800 – 4000rpm

Kerb weight (kg) 1516

Driven wheels Front

0-100km/h 9.5s (claimed)

Price R299 800


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