By on May 31, 2010

Financial Times calls “Volkswagen a long-time skeptic about hybrid and electric cars.” As a long time observer of the Wolfsburg boys, I have to agree. Despite green initiatives for public and political consumption, their private position has been that the consumption and emissions of a hybrid could be achieved with their low displacement supercharged engines and some weight savings. Some electric initiatives notwithstanding, this position has not changed. Case in point: Their new Touran.

“With the launch of every new Volkswagen model, fuel consumption and emissions are falling further,” gushes the latest press release from Wolfsburg. But it shows where their heart is: With the ICE. The new Touran, a compact MPV, consumes only 4.6 liter diesel per 100km. If my mpg calculator is not mistaken, that’s 51.3 miles to the U.S. liquid gallon (your EPA mileage may vary.) Not bad for a 7-seater! It gets there with a 1.6-liter TDI engine with BlueMotion Technology. The planet thanks Volkswagen for a 121 g/km CO2 rating.

The frugal oil-burner is not the only engine. A total of six new gas and diesel engines will be available, along with the usual dizzying array of European trim levels. Which we will spare you.

The Touran will launch in Germany in August. Says VW: “Over the course of the autumn, it will then gradually be introduced to markets across the globe.” And will VW stop wringing every possible kilometer from a liter, or mile from a gallon? Of course not. “Volkswagen’s aim for the future is to get below 4.6 liters per 100km,” says the communique.

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31 Comments on “Volkswagen To Introduce 51.3 mpg 7-Seater...”

  • avatar
    Amendment X

    What happens to the (complete joke that we call the) Routan?

    • 0 avatar

      If it goes away, at least they can still use the badging for the Touran. Since it is only a two letter swap, it will work well and save VW money. Hopefully people don’t mind that it looks like “touRan” on their cars though. :)

    • 0 avatar

      They’re very different animals, even ignoring the Routan’s Chrysler origins, completely different sizes in spite of the seven-seat capability in each.

      Routan: 202.5″ length, 121.5″ wheelbase, 4600 lbs curb weight
      Touran: 173.5″ length, 105.5″ wheelbase, 3350 lbs curb weight

      And just for completeness:
      Sharan: 182.5″ length, 111.5″ wheelbase, 3850 lbs curb weight
      Caravelle SWB: 192.5″ length, 118″ wheelbase, 5000 lbs curb weight

    • 0 avatar


      The tailgate lettering on the Routan is all upper-case block letters of the same size, i.e. “ROUTAN” so nobody will be the wiser if they just swap T/R. Of course, it’s not likely anyone will care either.

  • avatar

    Interesting that this comes on top of the announcement of a Prius-based seven-seater.

    I’m glad to see more high-mileage seven-seaters in the pipe. It’s a neglected market: I’m sure there are people who would like to haul a vanload of people around the city without getting 11-18mpg in the process.

    A question: how much does this Touran weigh? If I recall, the current model is a little bigger (and bit heavier) than the Mazda5, which is not quick. With a 1.6L TDI we’re talking 0-60 in 13+, aren’t we?

  • avatar

    Chances of this getting to the U.S. as a 7-seater with a sub-2 liter engine are none, chances as a 5-seater with a 2L diesel or turbo gasoline engine are slight.

  • avatar

    UK or US gallons?

  • avatar

    Ok, now 7 people can get stranded by the roadside instead of 4 with the Jetta

  • avatar

    I like the Routan We rented one recently to drive from Phoenix to Las Vegas and back. Loaded up with people, pets and luggage it got 24 mpg combined trip. Seemed a little nicer inside and better equipped than the Grand Caravans that we usualy end up with.

  • avatar

    VW still doesn’t grasp that there are some Americans who want very high mileage, not a huge grotesque ‘SUV’ to drive around. The VW Lupo, getting 78 mpg, using a three cylinder Diesel was out in 1999!! 1999!! But VW couldn’t see the utility of a U.S. version of course, preferring instead to send us mini-vans and other large steel stuff. Maybe VW will finally get it—U.S. drivers will buy a Lupo if it’s priced right and gets 78 mpg. Not all will, because Americans like huge ugly ‘I will run you over’ vehicles, but a large number of Americans will buy such a small car. link:

    VW: what are you waiting for? To lose more money?

    • 0 avatar
      Dr Strangelove

      That particular car didn’t even sell at all well in Germany, with its higher gas prices, shorter distances, and less widespread obsession with ‘power’. It would have been a total flop in the States. Moreover, a car as Spartan as the Lupo would undermine the somewhat upmarket image that VW is trying to project here.

      Now the recent Polo BlueMotion is a much better car, and the fuel economy comes close to that of the Lupo. That one might actually succeed.

    • 0 avatar

      As Dr. Strangelove said: The 3L Lupo not just “didn’t even sell at all well in Germany.”

      To be honest, it was a disaster. I worked for VW at the time. The 3L Lupo was expensive. It used space age material to make it light and tough at the same time. During research, people said they would buy it to save the planet, money is no object.

      They lied. When it came to buying a car, they rather bought a Golf GTI. Soon, the car was discontinued.

      I wrote a book about the 3L (for VW, 018.5001.12.00) In the book, I said: “It is simple to build a car that uses little gas. It is hard to build a real car that uses little gas. It needs to be light, so that it uses less energy. It needs to be safe, and must absorb a lot of energy if push comes to shove. It needs to provide room for four passengers and their luggage. It needs to be fun to drive.”

      I did not forget “It needs to be affordable.” But it was the wrong thing to say.

  • avatar

    I’m fairly certain that with the new cafe requirements we will see more diesels in the USA. Hopefully they will find acceptance in the us market.

  • avatar

    this looks like a competitor in the Mazda 5/Kia Rondo class, how big of a market is that really? And why doesn’t VW consider a diesel hybrid? the mpg numbers could be really impressive…

    • 0 avatar
      Mirko Reinhardt

      In Europe, vehicles in that class sell in numbers magnitudes higher than SUVs, CUVs or full-size minivans – and the Touran is the segment bestseller.
      The “new” Touran is really just new body panels (doors weren’t changed at all) and some small interior material/drivetrain upgrades – it has been the same basic car since 2003.

  • avatar

    Wonder what the MPG would be fully loaded with seven passengers.


  • avatar

    If it gets 51 mpg and is as inoffensive to drive as the Prius, then they may have a winner. The catch is that it’s the economy engine option. In the US, if they ever sell it here, would this be available in a fancy trim or will it be cheap?

    I also wonder if VW knows how to market green cars. What are they going to do to tell people this exists? Sometimes I think this is a problem across the car industry – Subaru has a PZEV version of the Outback, which I didn’t even know until I parked next to one. I also hear they are hard to find at the dealer lots (at least outside of California). This IS important, but where is the urgency from the automaker’s and dealer’s side?

  • avatar
    George B

    Bertel, how do US and European fuel consumption tests compare? I like the idea of having a diesel option, but not so sure the Touran would do as well as hybrids in city stop and go driving. The other problem is diesel fuel is now about 20% more expensive than gasoline where I live.

    • 0 avatar

      My recollection is that European numbers are **extremely** optimistic, even taking unit differences into account.

      Have a look at the fuel economy figures for a given model in Canada and in, say, Germany: both use L/100km, but the German figures are, across the board, much better.

      There was a story, relatively recently, about how carbon emissions figures reported in Europe were, basically, a fiction. It was also noted that there’s less oversight in Europe of those figures versus the EPA’s more arm’s-length approach. I would wonder if the fuel economy figures are similarly adjusted?

  • avatar

    I wish VW would sell their 60 mpg 1.4L diesel Polo here. I don’t need a bigger car than that. they’ll need to revamp their dealer network first.

  • avatar

    If it’s as (un)reliable as most Volkswagens, you’d be better off spending the repair money on a more reliable, but thirsty vehicle.

    And sorry, I don’t see 7 adults fitting into that thing. That is not a replacement for a minivan.

    Also, I’m betting the 1.6L TDI never sees US shores; most (American) people will go for a V6. This story should be posted under WAROTD.

    • 0 avatar

      I have similar thoughts concerning the grand c-max’s size. I also get a chuckle at people who say that a midsize car (in particular a Prius) can seat 5 people. Yes the car has 5 seatbelts, but coming from a family of 5 I know you can not comfortably fit 5 people in a midsize. Especially 3 squabbling siblings.

  • avatar

    routan touran routan touran routan touran routan touran routan touran routan touran routan touran routan touran routan touran routan touran

    what the hell is this?

    i don’t see a big issue with this

    The Skoda Roomster is the same concept and that’s a VAG company too.

  • avatar

    So is the Touran going to replace the Tiguan, the latter only seating 4 and approximately the same size as Touran?
    As for 7 people fitting into it, I assume we’re talking 5 adults and 2 children? The 1 foot longer Toyota RAV4 manages that, but not for 7 full sized adults.

    Also, it’s amazing how much Touran in profile looks like a Subaru Forester.

    • 0 avatar
      Mirko Reinhardt

      The Touran isn’t going to replace the Tiguan – it’s a different kind of vehicle. The Tiguan is a small SUV, the Touran is a tall wagon/MPV/small minivan/whatever you want to call it.
      It has been on the market since 2003 and sells like hotcakes in Europe.

      And yes, the last row is for children only. If you want something with a more roomy third row, the next size up is the Sharan, and if you need to haul basketball players you can get a Multivan.

  • avatar
    Tricky Dicky

    Touran = C-MPV, Tiguan = C-SUV. Different cars, different segments.

    I’ve got to say, the Touran looks utterly dull given how mature the C-MPV market is in Europe. Apart from the Gold VI front end, the back looks no different from an 8 year old Opel Zafira (and that isn’t a compliment!).

    Surprisingly, The EU does not have a unified standard for fuel economy testing, so this is left down to Motoring Authorities in individual member states. As each has it’s own testing regime, a vehicle is advertised with different fuel consumption abilities according to each market. Of course, this can be compared to the manufacturer’s own figures, but I think we can all agree that these are optimistic at best.

    Diesel’s don’t tend to perform too badly in city traffic, simply because they have bags of low down torque and accelerate easily in stop and go situations, without excessive fuel burn. Where they tend to do relatively less well is at high sustained speeds (in excess of typical highway speed limits). The high compression ratio of diesel engines mean that they fall back in fuel economy when forced to spin too fast. In comparison, a gasoline engine can spin pretty fast without too much additional fuel burn, but burns a lot to get there.

  • avatar

    A worthy effort by VW. I don’t think the minivan market in the US is really going to revive until somebody comes out with the 30/30 minivan, that is, a traditionally-sized minivan that gets 30 mpg city and highway (ratings anyway). It should be possible with a hybrid (or maybe diesel) drivetrain, low-friction tires and aerodynamic tuning.

  • avatar

    Is there any real indication that they’re actually going to try to market a euro-class people mover here in the states? It’s an interesting looking car, but I’m not sure people will move away from their suvs and minivans for something like this.

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