Having spent several months at the wheel of the Volkswagen Golf BlueMotion, and then with the Golf Edition-R, it's time to move on. Our next long term test car will be a SEAT Exeo, but before that arrives we have the recently updated Volkswagen Touran for a few weeks. You can read our full road test of the Touran here, and we're going to take this opportunity to compare it to living with a Golf. We suspect that's a decision some growing families will have to make.
First up, and despite cosmetic revisions at the end of last year, there's no doubt that the Golf is more desirable - especially if you opt for the Edition-R upgrades. If you're image conscious then the decision is already made. It's no wonder the Golf is seen as a classy hatchback for anyone, being driven by male and female; young and old; those that can just afford it; and those that use it as a second or even third car.
Most people that have had a kid or two soon come around to a more practical way of thinking (present company included) and that's when cars like the Touran become more alluring. Volkswagen offers its compact MPV in five- and seven-seat guises, which may at first seem a little odd, but if you don't need the seven seats then the extra boot space will be more than welcome, and you can save a few thousand Euros in the process. The five-seat version also boasts extra under-floor storage in the boot, despite the reassuring presence of a full-size spare wheel. Somewhat bizarrely we couldn't find an official figure for the luggage capacity of the five-seat Touran, though it's considerably more than the 350-litre volume offered by the Golf.
But there's more to the Touran than luggage space. It's a more spacious feeling car overall thanks to the high roof and more upright seating position and there's buckets of room in the rear seats for adults or children. Each of the three rear seats slides and tilts individually. The backrests fold down, the whole seat can tilt forward and you can remove it completely giving you van-like carrying capacity. Try and do all that in a Golf.
On the road, the Golf is a little nicer to drive, but we're talking relatively small differences as the cars share so many components. Crucially, the Touran is comfortable, but it doesn't wallow about. The 1.6-litre TDI 105 engine is a perfect partner, and we'd be tempted to pair the excellent DSG automatic gearbox with it too - despite the extra cost.
And that may be the deciding factor for the Touran vs. Golf debate. The latter is considerably cheaper to buy and there are more options in the line-up to suit your requirements and budget. Saying that, the Touran is worth the premium if your needs are that of a small family.
Will be interesting to see how a larger saloon like the SEAT Exeo compares.
Model tested: Volkswagen Touran Comfortline 1.6 TDI (five seat)
Engine: 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel
Transmission: six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Body style: five-door, five-seat compact MPV
Rivals: Ford C-Max, Renault Scenic, Toyota Verso
CO2 emissions: 121g/km (Band B, 225 per annum)
Combined economy: 61.4mpg (4.6 litres/100km)
Top speed: 186km/h
0-100km/h: 12.8 seconds
Power: 105hp at 4,400rpm
Torque: 250Nm at 1,500 - to 2,500rpm