ONLY the geekiest of petrolheads is ever going to put up a poster of a Volkswagen Touran.
Not that it's unlovely, it's just not the prettiest vehicle in the world. However, before the nerds have their revenge, that ‘geek chic' may be the secret to one of the world's most practical family cars.
Why else would more than 100,00 have found their way into homes across the UK?
The latest model, unveiled 12 years after the first Touran went on sale, boasts more interior space on the smallest possible footprint plus the highest level of safety, convenience, comfort and connectivity in the compact MPV class
In the UK, it comes as standard with seven seats. A new easy-to-use fold-flat seating system allows the two rearmost seats to be folded flat into the floor to free up maximum bootspace. The middle row also folds flat when not needed and there's a folding front passenger seat too.
Loaded to the roof with the rear seats in place, there's still enough room for 917 litres of luggage, rising to 1,857 litres with the middle three seats folded. And, there more than 40 other storage compartments and cubby-holes to stash all those family ‘necessities'.
Though it's a genuine seven-seater, the rear seats really are for children only or for occasional use. However, there's plenty of room for even larger adults in that versatile middle row.
There's a host of petrol and diesel engines to choose from with power outputs ranging from 110 to 190ps and the favourite is almost certainly the 110ps diesel 1.6-litre. Mine was the more powerful 2.0-litre TDI 150ps which comes with the choice of a six-speed manual or VW's slick six-speed DSG gearbox.
It officially returns 60.1mpg and 125g/km with the DSG though I achieved a reasonably friendly 45.9mpg.
There's also five trim levels including the new and market clever SE Family flavour.
Highlights on the entry-level S include automatic post-collision braking and pre-crash systems, seven airbags, the now ubiquitous touchscreen Composition Media system with DAB and Bluetooth, air conditioning, roof rails and seven seats. SE adds 16-inch alloys, Front Assist with city emergency braking function, front and rear parking sensors, iPod connectivity and rain sensor.
The new Family trim also adds family-friendly elements such as an extra-large panoramic sunroof, rear sunblinds and all the smartphone connectivity you to keep the little darlings in the back entertained.
Other nice touches are the luggage area light which can be removed and used as a torch and electronic voice amplification. This uses in-car microphones and speakers so passengers seated in different rows can speak to each other without shouting.
On the down side, it means you'll never again be able to ignore cries of ‘are we there yet?'
I was also taken with the optional Caribbean Blue metallic paint - an extra £615.
The latest model is certainly better looking - sleeker and sharper - than its predecessor and its interior has also been improved, most notably, the dashboard, which is now more logically laid-out and very much driver-oriented with everything in easy reach.
The seats are also much more comfortable as is the ride. And, as you would expect from VW, it is quiet and refined.
It's also a very good drive. It's not going to light up the road but the steering is precise and agile. There is, if you like, a hint of Golf - with which it shares its platform - about it and it doesn't pitch and roll like older people carriers. On the motorway, it's an accomplished performer.
And, as you would expect for a modern family car, it's chock-full of safety gadgets and gizmos each with its own three-letter abbreviation or TLA. You know the onesâ¦ABS, ESC, EDL, ASR, ACC etc. These mean it's very safe for you and the kids.