VW Touran I, Betty White of the auto world. A car that has lasted on the market for 12 (twelve) years and still fills the fleets of car dealers. Why it’s so good (is it really?) VW Touran I, we find out in today’s article.

 We discussed in the Ford Fiesta article about the life cycle of a car. A car stays on the market usually for 8 years, and in year 4 it gets a more or less substantial facelift. Unless you are Renault and you bring facelift models every year, or if you are Honda and you bring facelift models every 3 years.

And the VW Touran I? No, they kept it on the market from 2003 to 2015. This car, like a student who has seen parties in his lifetime, comes in among the first and leaves among the last. It was the first car in the MPV segment to come with electric power steering, it was the first car in the VW group to come with the famous 2.0 TDI that ruined the market in Europe and distorted the view of the europeans  more than 5 beers and the first car in the VW group to come with Park Assist. That is, the car parks for you if you don’t feel like a good enough driver to do so. All that’s missing is to choose a bag that matches your shoes and especially your eye color.


The VW Touran I has been a bigger hit among europeans than even Big Brother, or beer. Basically, in a VW Touran I you had several cars capable of many things, possibly at the same time. If you had to carry family, children, bags of cement, and a bottle of wine from the relatives you had just visited, you could carry all this at the same time, in the same car. If for you there is no difference between children and sacks of potatoes, then the VW Touran I is an excellent car. Plus it’s VW, so you’ve heard somewhere that it’s a cool, German car. Not toys or cheap tired ones like Dacia Logan which beats the Touran in reliability. It’s not as big or horrible as a Sharan either, you don’t get instant cataract when you see it, it comes with engines you’ve only heard legends about, like they don’t break down and don’t chugg diesel or oil and it comes in 5 or 7 seat versions. Basically, you have two extra seats for two relatives that you don’t stand, because in those two back seats you only send someone you wish “only the best” for. 


VW Touran I Engines


  • 1.2 TSI of 105 horsepower – The base engine for the facelifted version of the VW Touran I, but suffering from the classic timing chain issue. I wrote more about this in the article about the Golf VI.
  • 1.4 TSI of 140, 150, and 170 horsepower – The base 122 horsepower single-turbo version is too small for the Touran. Not that anyone would ever buy it. So it got the heralded 1.4 TSI TwinCharger, which has both a turbocharger and supercharger, so it can break down more often and VW can make sure no one buys it.
  • 1.6 MPI of 102 horsepower – The simplest engine in the VW Touran I and the most balanced for the city. Doesn’t break down, occasionally consumes oil and coil packs, runs on LPG, and moves decently. If you go around town often, this is the engine you want.
  • 1.6 FSI of 115 horsepower – Same 1.6 MPI that gets the FSI system and a few extra horses. Prematurely retired in 2006, it’s marginally more muscular than the plain version, but not 100% LPG compatible. As if you need muscle in a Touran.
  • 2.0 FSI of 150 horsepower – On the same principle as the 1.6 FSI, the engine was retired in 2006. However, if you want a comically fast car and you want to confuse everyone with a Touran that takes on a 3 Series of the same era, this is the engine you want.
  • 2.0 TSI of 170 horsepower – The turbocharged version of the 2.0 FSI, fitted exclusively to the VW CrossTouran. Why you’d need a 2.0-liter, 170-horsepower petrol in a Touran, I don’t know. But it’s good to know you can. Oil consumption and timing chain issues.


  • 1.6 TDI of 90 and 105 horsepower  – What was meant to be a sequel to the legendary 1.9 TDI turned out to be just a mechanical lemon. Serious issues on the injector, EGR and DPF side if you dare to drive more than 100 meters in town. An engine exclusively for driving outside town.
  • 1.9 TDI of 101 and 105 horsepower  – The old, the ancient, the legendary 1.9 TDI. Somewhere around 350,000 km the camshaft wears out, and on the BXE version sometimes the pushrod spectacularly leaves out through the engine. It’s the only diesel with a single mass flywheel, the DSG version is the only Euro 3 version, it’s the most economical and reliable on the list.
  • 2.0 TDI of 136, 140, 170, and 177 horsepower  – The infamous 2.0 TDI PD that had serious issues on the VW Passat B6 is coming to the Touran to cause a stir. Essentially the oil pump is geared by a axle that wears out over time. When the axle is sufficiently worn, the oil pump stops spinning, the engine stops getting oil, and the rest you can imagine. If you still insist on buying a pre-2008 VW Touran I 2.0 TDI (that’s when they switched to Common Rail and solved the famous issue) then you’ll also pay extra for the dual mass flywheel which breaks more often than you’d like.


VW Touran I General Issues

  • The DSG automatic transmission is not the most fortunate and technological tool possible. It needs regular oil and filter changes every 60,000 miles and pray the mechatronic doesn’t fail. The mechatronic is the automatic gearbox computer and it is only replaced, not reconditioned. A new Mechatronic costs as much as a 2004 Touran.
  • If the taillights are burnt out then you’d better make friends with the dark because the change procedure is more complicated than my relationship with work.
  • ABS and ESP modules may also have issues on VW Touran I, because by 2005 ATE was sending bad modules to VAG group (VW, Seat, Skoda) as well as BMW and Mercedes. If you don’t want a child to fly out of the back seat straight through the window, look out for the ABS module. I wouldn’t worry about ESP instead because the car is low, slow, and weighed down by bags of cement so it’s more stable than my relationship with work.
  • All diesels have particulate filter issues if driven in town, short distances. It’s not a Touran-specific issue, but it should give you pause to think about whether it’s really worth a diesel or a petrol.
  • The 7-seater versions come without a spare wheel. But if you have a car full of people, in case of a flat tire you can carry it in the back up to the first tire shop. There are enough of you.


VW Touran I Verdict

Surely there will be people in the comments section throwing stones at me. They’ll kill me, wax me. That’s because the VW Touran I is one of the most popular cars in Europe, simply by virtue of its versatility and the fact that it’s VW. Moreover, cars like this don’t hold their price very well so they’re even cheaper than, say, a Passat, an Octavia, or a Golf. But is it really worth driving one of these just because you want the VW logo?

Which engine do you recommend? For petrol fans, definitely the 102-horsepower 1.6 MPI. A simple, trouble-free engine. For diesel, I recommend any 2.0 TDI Common-Rail after 2008, because it got rid of the classic issues. And if your car maintenance budget is comparable to the budget of a student living on parents’ money, then it’s impossible to beat the eternal 1.9 TDI.